Dienstag, 30. August 2011

The Mighty Duke, Canary, Fighter, Blakie - This Is Calypso!

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of enslaved Africans, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song. This forged a sense of community among the Africans, who saw their colonial masters change rapidly, bringing French, Spanish and British music styles to the island of Trinidad. The French brought Carnival to Trinidad, and calypso competitions at Carnival grew in popularity, especially after the abolition of slavery in 1834. While most authorities stress the African roots of calypso, in his 1986 book "Calypso from France to Trinidad, 800 Years of History" veteran calypsonian The Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) asserted that calypso descends from the music of the medieval French troubadours.
Kelvin Pope, known in the Calypso world as 'The Mighty Duke', is a legendary Calypsonian whose work spans a period of over fifty years.

Born in 1930 in Point Fortin, south Trinidad, 'Duke' grew up in a period that was marked by striking workers who challenged the colonial authorities by protesting against working conditions, wages, racism and exploitation in the oilfields.

Growing up in this turbulent period would have a lasting impact on Kelvin Pope and the music that he would create in years to come.
He started his calypso career at a calypso tent in Point Fortin but moved to the Southern Brigade Tent in San Fernando in the early 1960s. He then joined the Original Young Brigade Tent in Port-of-Spain where he performed from 1964 to 1967. He won the National Calypso Crown four times: 1968 ("What Is Calypso" and "Social Bacchanal"); 1969 ("Black Is Beautiful" and "One Foot Visina"); 1970 ("Brotherhood of Man" and See Through"); and 1971 ("Mathematical Formula" and "Melvine & Yvonne"). He also won the Road March title in 1987 with "Thunder." He died in 2009.

1 The Mighty Duke - What is Calypso ?
2 The Mighty Duke - Woman baccanal
3 Canary - Beatnik generation
4 Canary - Tribute to Luther King
5 Fighter - What you sow you reap
6 Fighter - Pom pom
7 Fighter - Send me instead
8 Blakie - Monica
9 Blakie - We ain't going back again
10 The Mighty Duke - Send them girls by me

(320 kbps, cover art included)

Sonntag, 28. August 2011

Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Scratch and Company - The Upsetters, Chapter 1 (1982)

Making sense of the Lee "Scratch" Perry oeuvre has long been a troubling affair. Though the advent of reissued material and printed retrospectives in The Wire and Grand Royal answered many questions, the occasional release still slips through the cracks. Enter "Scratch & Company: The Upsetters, Chapter One", a 1982 collection from Jam Clockwork. Both the origins of the music and its place in Perry's catalog are something of a mystery.

It matches a handful of the producer's known collaborators and a series of more obscure figures, creating an assemblage of pulsating organs, distorted guitar scratches, and deep bass. Vocals come in the form of the standard dub production fragments ("Curly Dub") and occasional Rasta philosophizing ("Who You Gonna Run To," "When Jah Come").

The most striking moment is "Tighten Up." Here, an infectious tune with banal lyrics and fine groove is transformed through Perry's absurd production methods. Warped beyond belief (and anything resembling conventional logic), it's as if Perry placed the entire track underwater just to see what it sounded like, then sat back, satisfied with his creation. Only the saxophone escapes. The vocalists sound like alien versions of Alvin & the Chipmunks have landed on the island of Jamaica. Nothing else on "Scratch & Company" quite matches it. The rest of the collection, while inconsistent, has its merits. "A Serious Joke," with its deceptive aural balance, takes second place. "Scratch the Dub Organizer" offers little surprise, but it's a fine dub moment nonetheless with great horn harmony, smooth soloing, and chest-rattling bass. The cool and calm instrumental "Scratch Walking" would indeed be the perfect soundtrack for Perry himself, strolling through town. Though it's not of the caliber of the Upsetters' finest releases, "Scratch & Company" contains some fine music for those looking deeper into the producer's catalog.

Lee Perry & The Upsetters - Scratch And Company - The Upsetters, Chapter 1 (1982)
(256 kbps, front cover included)

Dienstag, 16. August 2011

VA - Independence Jump Up Calypso (1966)

"Independence Jump Up Calypso" is a wonderful album with calypso tunes released on Treasure Isle in 1966.

Before the rise of ska in the late '50s/early '60s, calypso was the music of choice in Jamaica. Calypso originated in Trinidad, but it had no problem spreading to Jamaica. One Jamaican who easily made the transition from calypso to ska and reggae was a DJ/label owner, Duke Reid, who put out some calypso singles in the '50s before focusing mainly on ska and reggae in the '60s. Reid revisited calypso in 1966, when he celebrated Jamaica's independence from Britain with "Independence Jump Up Calypso". (Jamaica had become independent in 1962). Most of the songs on this enjoyable album feature Count Lasher, a talented but little known calypso singer, and other noteworthy contributors to the project include trumpeter Baba Brooks, and singer Count Alert. Lasher's noteworthy contributions to the date range from the exuberant "Jump Independently" and the troubling "Hooligans," to the humorously risque "Mufridite" (which warns against marrying a hermaphrodite).
1 - Count Lasher - Jump Independently
2 - Count Lasher - The Weed
3 - Count Alert - Old Man's Drive
4 - Count Lasher - Hooligans
5 - Lynn Taitt With Baba Brooks Band - Dog War Jumpup
6 - Count Lasher And Williams - Bam Bam
7 - Count Lasher And Williams - Mufridite
8 - Count Alert - In The Park
9 - Count Alert - Hard Times
10 - Lynn Taitt With Baba Brooks Band - Seven Guns Alive Instrumental

VA - Independence Jump Up Calypso (1966)
(320 kbps, front cover included)

Sonntag, 14. August 2011

Barbara Dane - Barbara Dane Sings The Blues (Folkways 1964)

During all her years singing blues and jazz, Barbara continued to weave in appearances as a solo performer on the coffeehouse circuit with her folk-style guitar. She also stepped up her work in the movements for peace and justice as the struggle for civil rights spread and the war in Vietnam escalated. She sang at every big peace demonstration in Washington and many of those in small towns and byways all over America, taking her songs to the Freedom Schools of rural Mississippi and right up to the gates of military bases from Japan to Europe as well as all over the USA.

Link removed to support Folkways. Check out the comment section.

Donnerstag, 11. August 2011

Amiri Baraka - New Music New Poetry (1980)

Poet, playwright, critic, and novelist Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoi Jones) is best known to the jazz community for his two books, "Blues People: Negro Music in White America", published in 1964, and "Black Music" in 1967, both as LeRoi Jones.

Long before this, however, Baraka was identified with the New York School of poets and the Beats (he was included in Donald Allen's seminal anthology "The New American Poetry"). His first book of poetry, "Preface to a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note" was published in 1961. With Diane Di Prima he founded and edited the legendary "Floating Bear" newsletter. Baraka founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater/School and won an Obie award for his play "Dutchman" in 1964. He was an outspoken leader in the Black Nationalist movement in the late '60s and was a close associate - as well as spiritual godfather - to the Black Panther Party.
He changed his name to Imamu Amiri Baraka, and later dropped "Imamu" (a Muslim word for "spiritual leader") in 1970. Remaining an activist, Baraka dropped his nationalist stance in 1974 and adopted a Marxist/Leninist one and is regarded as one of the most influential African-American writers of the 20th century.

With influences on his work ranging from artists as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane,
Thelonius Monk, and Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, Malcolm X and world revolutionary movements,
Baraka is renown as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s that became,
though short-lived, the virtual blueprint for a new American theater aesthetics.

He recorded the wildly controversial play "Black Mass" with Sun Ra & His Arkestra in 1968 (issued on the Jihad label) and the amazing "New Music New Poetry" with saxophonist David Murray in 1980 on India Navigation. Baraka has added one more volume to his shelf of music criticism, "The Music: Reflections on Jazz and Blues", which he and Amina Baraka, his wife, published in 1987. Baraka has taught at SUNY Buffalo and Columbia University, and he is currently a professor of Africana studies at SUNY, Stony Brook. He lives in Newark, NJ.

Amiri Baraka - New Music New Poetry (1980)
(230 kbps, cover art included)