Back in the day bands were always coming up with their own dances and rhythms that they hope would catch fire. In the early days of El Gran Combo they had something called Mazucamba. It’s a fun tune that starts out very danceable, but then get’s a little nuts when they virtually decide to switch the speed of your turntable up to 45rpm. Hold on.
Close to this time last year, November 30, 2013, the music world lost the great Tabu Ley Rochereau —leader and singer for his band Orchestre L’International Afrisa. I wish I could boast that I owned a great number of his records, but the man produced so much music over his career I doubt I will ever come close. Just days before he passed I happened to be doing a little “Black Friday” record shopping and came across an original two volume set of LPs from 1960s that highlighted his amazing Cuban influenced songs and features Dr. Nico on guitar before his departure to form his own group. I really can’t express enough how much I love this music. Just listen…
Tabu Ley Rochereau et Orchestre L’International Afrisa – Arsene Dionge
While in France a couple months ago I made sure to pick up more his records, specifically his material from the 70s when he branched out from Congolese Rumba and Cuban songs to produce more Soul influenced music. Here’s a wonderful example from 1973 that highlights the brilliance of Tabu Ley by his ability to lyrically construct a song using only 1 word — Sambuluma.
Hosts Arjuna (dj smokestack), Jacobo (dj pozole), Federico (dj papicultor), and May-Li (dj china tu madre) welcome special guest Daniel French from one of the hottest bands from East LA Las Cafeteras to La Sala. Our vinyl journey begins with classic sounds from Egypt then continues onto Tanzania, Zaire and Colombia before returning to California to connect the old with the new.
I really like where you’re headed with this, Pozole. While I cue up the next song, I have to say I can’t agree more with you, man. I have to walk behind the booth every other song to see what y’all are playing! And even in a record that I own, you guys bring to light these amazing songs that I haven’t even noticed. I hadn’t really paid too much attention to Ray Barreto’s ‘Power’, and on an album called ‘Power’! Thank you for rectifying.
That track got me all excited to post an old favorite, but I just realized that I let Smokestack borrow it. Well, it’s in very capable hands, I can’t wait to see what he’ll do with it. So let’s try something else, inspired by your lasttwo posts (and by the opportunity to blast “Sofrito” on La Peña’s sound system last Saturday. Someone asked me what ‘Sofrito’, and the best (only?) answer was to have her look at the record cover.)
No doubt many of you know Mongo Santamaria’s “Sofrito”, a Pelanga favorite and a classy, classy tune. A just-so-slightly melodramatic piano intro turns into one of the most memorable tumbaos in salsa, adorned by such an elegant horn section and beautiful solos waay up top. Monguito’s subtle work on the congas keeps everyone grounded and lets them shine. Restraint can be so powerful!
This is not the song I meant to post, but I can’t help it.
What you might not know is how Monguito follows this up. In the next track he brings us back down low, with a praise to Shangó that is equal parts heavy funk and pure rumba cubana. What else can I say?
…with Franco and L’Orchestra TP OK Jazz! I mean no offence to Zumba enthusiasts out there, but with Franco’s hypnotic guitar playing and trademark Congolese Rumba, why workout to anything else? Here’s a 9 minute groove that’s guaranteed to get your whole body loose!