For this podcast we decided to try something we have never done before — set out to do a show without any records from our collection. Instead we went to a local record swap meet with a set budget of $50 each to create our playlist for the day.
North Oakland record swap meet—time to start digging
Arjuna (DJ Smokestack) is in his happy place
May-Li (DJ China Tu Madre) previewing a possible winner
Jacob (Dj Pozole) scrutinizing each track
Federico (DJ Papicultor) sampling West African treasures
After a full afternoon of digging through many boxes of records from all over the world we headed straight back to La Sala to see if we spent our money wisely. We think we did pretty well, but have a listen and let us know what you think.
Fela Ransome-Kuti and Africa ’70 with Ginger Baker – Let’s Start
20th Century Steel Band – Heaven and Hell is on Earth
Monarco – Silenciar A Mangueira
Avohou Pierre Et L’Orchestre Black Santiago – Makoba Houi Dé O
We’ve had some wacky weather with some false starts, but I think it’s safe to say that finally Spring is here, at least here in the Bay Area. Today the sky is a pure blue and there is that signature Bay breeze that carries a new sense of optimism and excitement this time year. This past weekend in Oakland California we had our annual Malcolm X Jazz Festival where everyone was looking fly in their new Spring fits, kids were running wild in all the parks, and everywhere I went I could smell barbecues lofting through the air. So what we have here is something I think you’ll find quite fitting — a beautiful example of Brazilian forró (a 3 insturment form of music consisting of an accordian, a bass drum and a metal triangle from the Northeastern region of Brazil) by Trio Nordestino called Minha Bahia from their album Dia De Festejo. I highly recommend opening up all your windows to let that Spring breeze mix with this music to fill your home and carry out for you and your neighbors to enjoy.
This one is especially dedicated to our honorary pelanguero, DJ Smokestack, who is laid up right now and is the one who hooked me up with this great record. He’s been supplying all us pelangueros with incredible music lately and I can’t wait to see him back flying around the soccer field and rocking the turntables with us again soon. Wishing you a full and fast recovery homie!
Nana Vasconcelos is a Brazilian percussionist, who in the course of a very long and varied career has played with the likes of Gato Barbieri, Don Cherry, Jean-Luc Ponty and The Talking Heads. In the early 1980s, he collaborated with the Italian accordion player Antonello Salis, and made this record, “Lester”. Just the two of them, but really, they make such a big sound together, it doesn’t feel like anything is missing. This track, “Sogni Caraibici” (Caribbean Dreams) is my favorite. It has the feel of some of that great Balkan gypsy music (I’m thinking of the soundtracks to Emir Kusturica’s films), but with Vasconelos providing an upbeat tempo that makes everything take off. There are spots where his percussion sounds almost like a double bass. We’ve been featuring some great accordion playing at La Pelanga recently, and Salis is certainly a virtuoso in his own right, but the conversation between the two of them is what makes this track (and this album) special. Hope you enjoy.
Sogni Cariabiciby Nana Vasconcelos/Antonello Solis
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“Funeal do lavrador” (Funeral of a worker) has got to be one of my all-time favorite tracks. The heavy cowbell, the simple, dark minor chords on the piano, and Zelia Barbosa’s powerful voice–it all works. I don’t know much else about Ms. Barbosa, but my ignorance of Brazilian music is matched only by admiration of it, so if anyone can educate me (us) that would be great. With a little YouTube search, I found a video of Zelia Barbosa endorsing Lula’s Workers Party, which seems appropriate given this song, though I can’t be sure if it’s the same woman. (Seems she’s running for office? My Portuguese is worse than my Haitian creole…)Visually, I like the French cover (on the Le Chant du Monde label) better than the American cover, but both commit what I consider one of those unforgivable sins of the so-called world music labels: placing the name of the country above the artist, as if the singers and musicians were interchangeable. Even with a cursory listen to this track, you’ll know Ms. Barbosa’s voice is unique. (I had a similar issue with the presentation of Atis Independant on the Paredon label, which had extensive linter notes about Haiti but not a single musician’s name.)The French record doesn’t even credit Ms. Barbosa anywhere on the front. I’d wager the Brazilian album does not commit this oversight. In spite of these reservations, I will say a kind word about Monitor Records: they did some incredible work in the Sixties and Seventies, and thankfully, their catalogue is part of Smithsonian/Folkways now. Get this album. You won’t be disappointed.