Ties that Bind

6 10 2010

Staying in NYC for the weekend for this and that, for both of them, saw and heard some very nice performances by Khaira (or Haira) Arby and Laurie Anderson.

On Saturday Khaira , ‘The Nightingale of the North,” aka, “The Aretha Franklin of Mali“ was playing a houseparty on the now nightlife-friendly Bowery.  Her North is the desert region of Mali, north of Timbuktu; the temp would make it the south in most countries, just about on a straight line with Jamaica.  The style is being marketed as ‘desert blues’ (she’s a cousin of Ali Farka Touré) and ‘duskcore,’ (think desert, not jungle or techno), but let’s say it fits in with the more established Songhai tradition (named for the Renaissance era African empire, village based, griot, largely secular, Islamic influenced, high tessitura praise singing) tweaked by monumental psych electric guitar runs from 17 year old Abdramane Touré.   One thing I noticed, and something I have seldom seen, is that for two plus hours no one in the band tapped their feet to the beat, any beat.  It just flowed.  So the voice is keening, soaring, evocative, the structure circular, haunting, hypnotic…but the guitar, but the guitar.

Here’s your dashing (means showing appreciation with cash in much of West Africa, not an attribute) author, reduced to singles in these hard times.

Like a lot of musicians in this world Khaira hopes her reception on her first US tour, and readily available music, will allow let her leave her day-job, as a salt trader along the old caravan routes.

It was a privilege to hear such a high quality performance in such an intimate space, the entire band smokin’ (but the guitar…).  I guess that’s why we live here, or in Timbuktu.

Here’s the discography I’ve been able to track down.  Cassette-player-less?  Get a copy of here first CD avail stateside.  I’ve never heard any of these, but did I mention I loved the guitar work I heard live?

• Moulaye     (Samassa Records, Mali, CS, 1990) We have also seen this listed as Diabira.

• Hala    (Mali, CS, 1994)

• Ya Rassoul   (Samassa Records, Mali, CS, 2002 or 2005?)

• Timbuktu Tarab    (Clermont Music, USA, CD, 2010)

This just in : a note from Clermont says they are looking to release all of the cassettes on CD in the future.

 

Now Laurie Anderson is also from the North (Illinois, Ireland, Sweden) and has brought her urban griot vision full circle, from the playful wondering of the early days to looking back and wondering why.  Her latest (Delusions) at BAM was majestic, the visuals not as striking as I wanted them (sheets of rain best), and the music better than ever (able accompaniment by Eyvind Kang on violin and Colin Stetson, sax.).   It was stories, non sequiturs, space-lore, snippets piled high, that by the end of the show are both zero sum and fully loaded, and you have no idea how she did it.

Her latest release is Homeland on Nonesuch Records.  For those of you who don’t know, I released LA’s first single, ‘O Superman,’ back when NYC was full of making, not the curatorial place holder it is now.   Nice to see her wearing my skinny ska tie I gave her in the 70s.

As both performers referenced their ancestors and offered unfamiliar nods to the Divine,  an e-mail that only came in today, addressed to “the Whole World,” seems to tie the skinny all together.

I, Margaret Veronica Nabakooza Kiyaga,

Katonda Afirika, WIFE OF GOD,

have the great honour and pleasure to announce to the whole world that The Lord God, has today,

the 27th September 2010,

beatified the beloved musician of Afirika, Franco.

MAY GOD BE GLORIFIED. AMEN.





Turn Around with Confidence (when the internet can’t dance)

28 09 2010

Like you, I look for records all the time.  But there are over two million here @ ARC, so it’s difficult to know when what you’ve found is what’s needed.  Not everything in the library is cataloged, and my computer is not always with me.  I’ve found that by just seeing the cover, I can keep about a quarter of a million items straight.  In general, when deciding if I should buy something or not, I guess.  The upshot is that I mostly buy junk.

Junk here, is of course, a well defined, highly selective term – an unusual item, in good condition, that catches my eye.  Under a dollar is a plus; completely bizarre, a must.  Nestled in the 40 or so discs I found this past weekend were a few gems, like…

What I liked about this misguided masterpiece is that some of the bandmembers were “unavailable for photographs due to hectic schedules.”  Now does that show confidence in this recording?

What amazes me is that there is little or no info on these recordings available on that internet thing.  The best known artists here, pioneering Calypsonian Sir Lancelot, is the subject of some online ink, but even WorldCat fails to deliver any sense of his recorded output.  i-tunes sez: “No results were found. Please try a different search.” (but he is on some compilations).  This is a 78rp ‘album’ containing 3 pristine discs, including one of his best-known recordings, “Ugly Woman.”

Sometimes there’s real musicianship buried here, like the trippy and yet unexplained People’s Victory Orchestra.  I’ve been searching for years for more than snippets of their history (70s releases, from Queens, principals William (or Richard or Robert) and Carla (Lund) Alt (or Arlt). Bill engineer @ Atlantic, with Carla ran vintage clothing store) and they have had the good grace to keep a secret, secret.  ‘Victory’ is seriously non rock-ey, unlike the other two LPs (The School and Weltschmerzen), but a nice hippy concept concerto of an LP, complete with a 64 page booklet chronicling a Canadian train ride.

Here’s another no informationer, recalling that fateful day, August 27th, 1965, when American and British royalty partied.  It’s by Lady KKK, sometimes Lady KinKyKarrot, but I bought it for the Chris Jones cover, he a major penciller for DC Comics.  This 10” is a soundtrack for the no doubt intriguing eponymous film, claims to be Various Artists but all the tracks are very much alike – filled with bad MS and BR accents doing mock-doc over very nice, moody lounge, with an occasional side of sitar.

It’s on Rockinbones Records, but their webthing has never heard of the Lady.  She’s from Brescia – Parma, Italy, and just a bit o’info @ http://www.myspace.com/ladykinkykarrot

Rounding out and down, here’s a late blooming singing nun, for our growing, and never listened to, singing nun section @ the ARC.








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