Archive for April, 2009

Zani Diabate & The Super Djata Band

April 26, 2009

The music from contemporary Mali is justly celebrated for its immediacy, intricacy and power. Check out recent releases by Rokia Traore, Oumou Sangare, Amadou & Mariam, Tinariwen, and Toumani Diabate for rich evidence. All these modern stars come from long traditions that are thankfully being kept alive. Recordings of previous generations still exist, not yet lost to the sands of time. One of Mali’s most electrifying performers of recent decades past was the guitarist Zani Diabate who led the amazing Super Djata Band. I found his Mango LP, Super Djata, in a used album bin somewhere in town a few years back and it ranks as one of my best musical discoveries. The guy was simply one of the hottest guitar players ever yet is more or less forgotten today. There appear to be at least 7 or 8 other Djata Band albums in existence, mostly French pressings, all from the early to mid 80s. Later, there was a superb cassette called Ni Zani Mana from 1991. After that, silence…

The clip above is Djegnogo Djougou from a concert in France in 1984.

Discography of Malian music

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20 Shots: Murder At The Vanities (1934)

April 21, 2009

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Glenn Kenny has already weighed in on the sublime strangeness that is Murder At The Vanities (part of Universal’s new Pre-Code Hollywood Collection). For me it reinforces the powerful attraction of even middling movies from this period. Despite its sometimes ham-handed acting (Carl Brisson, leading man?), a few terrible songs, and paint-by-numbers murder mystery plot, the film got under my skin. It’s overloaded with sleek deco imagery, the dialog is often pointed and funny, and tough guy mugs Victor McLagen and Jack Oakie prove to be great foils. I also have a soft spot for backstage stories and this one has a lot of enjoyably choreographed bustle. And it has Duke Ellington!

Reggae in the Bronx

April 15, 2009

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Protege of Coxsone Dodd at Studio One in the mid-60’s, Lloyd Barnes moved to New York and established his own studio, Wackie’s, home of many seminal roots and dancehall recordings of the late 70’s and early 80’s, including Dance Hall Style by Horace Andy. Wackie’s closed in the late 80’s, but has since reemerged at a new Bronx location, complete with record shop on the first floor.

20 Shots: Hot Saturday (1932)

April 9, 2009

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“It wasn’t until his twenty-first movie, in 1935… that Grant gave a truly solid and distinctive performance; until then he had been simply a very good-looking though fairly bland leading man.” – Peter Bogdanovich, Who The Hell’s In It.

Maybe that quote attests to the obscurity of Hot Saturday from 1932 (just released as part of Universal’s Pre-Code Hollywood Collection), because if the voracious movie-viewer Bogdanovich had been aware of it, he would have acknowleged that in this early Grant film (his seventh, according to IMDb), the Cary Grant character is already in full flower. He’s the sophistcated cad (“Romer”) who spoils the reputation of the small town’s most sought after ingenue (Nancy Carroll, who holds her own quite nicely) in a love quadrangle. It’s not a classic, but at an hour and ten minutes Hot Saturday moves along at a good clip, and in a rare move even in pre-code movies, the “bad girl” heroine ends up OK.

Global Beat, KFAI 04/08/09

April 8, 2009

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I filled in for Doug Cain today on Global Beat. We were able to shoehorn in a fair amount of music during the two hour time slot, including tracks from Oumou Sangare, Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou, Gilberto Gil, Psapp, Neco Novelas, and much more. The program is available for streaming for two weeks at the KFAI site, and you can click through here for the playlist.

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The Lost Tribes of New York City

April 5, 2009

From London Squared, a brilliant bit of animation reminiscent of Aardman’s Creature Comfort films (cleverly incorporating man on the street interviews), but these guys have found a way to do it without spending a fortune and an eternity working with claymation.

BYG Actuel Jazz LP Covers

April 3, 2009

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So I’m in a bit of a purging phase, going through the stacks of records and books here trying to determine what’s essential and what can be parted with. When confronted with the small collection of BYG Actuel LPs I accumulated a while ago I had to balance their hipness factor (high) with the number of times I’ve listened to them in, say, the last five years (low). BYG was the Parisian home for a number of adventurous artists from the US and elsewhere in the late 60s, issuing a string of records that only the bravest of American labels (Impulse, for a minute, was approaching there; Blue Note, for a second) would contemplate releasing. Known for their striking, semi-uniform front covers, I’d forgotten how great the back covers were, often a dramatic full-bleed shot of the artist in question. So here’s a little salute to them. (I’m holding on to Don Cherry’s Mu parts 1 & 2 – brilliant minimalism that still sounds fine today.) (And if you need any of these for YOUR collection, you can place a bid on eBay until April 7 at 7 PM PST!)

(related posts: Vintage Jazz Record Covers, More Vintage Jazz Record Covers, Brazilian LP Covers, More Brazilian LP Covers, Reggae 45s, Reggae 45s Part 2, LP Cover Bonanza, Record Covers: Global Tour)

Beat Digging in Kolkata

April 2, 2009

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On Arjuna Sayyed’s third trip to India in 2007 he decided to make a (somewhat madly) heroic effort to track down some of the amazing Bollywood soundtracks of the 70s and 80s on original vinyl. The fruits of his labor are a stack of records for his collection and a new funky mixtape CD called Shitala.