Sound Travels this week with African Funk firm in the crosshairs. Classic Afro Funk from all over Africa all week and today we started our safari in sound with West African artists like El Rego and Joni Haastrup who have recently seen their best work re-released on new compilations recently. Also got in a couple of artists whose work is so good that it should receive the same treatment soon; bands like Kyerematen Stars and Blo who I also played in today's set.
Though the music is pretty vintage, the fact that the records are being re-released suggests a sense of due reward. Daptone Records gets it with their release of El Rego et Ses Commandos prime material. El Rego is actually from Benin and the material on the self-titled album runs a nice gamut of James-Brown style funk and soulful ballads. Joni Haastrup, often compared to Jimi Hendrix for his innate feel for the music as well as his electrifying stage presence, has no fewer than three re-issues out now with his old band MonoMono. His story is one of almost having made it big time; he wound up never getting the major-label deal he sought and despite a string of hits and appearances with other major African bands as well as with Ginger Baker of Cream, he faded from view over time and that tragedy has only recently been allayed with the re-issuance of this very funky material.
El Rego "Hessa" El Rego
Joni Haastrup & MonoMono "Tire Loma Da Nigbehin" The Dawn Of Awareness
Followed these two masters with some crucial psychedelic Afro-Rock from the band Blo. Blo also had connections to Ginger Baker, who as it turned out was nutso for African sounds, and were fromed from his direction. They are a perfect example of an African band reconnecting with a sound that was invented in Africa and made in America, in the process owning it in a way that few bands of their day could. Kyerematen Stars, though they too were from Nigeria, were a different sort of tropical funk. Though they've yet to get their own re-issue their music is certainly due. The one I played is one of my favorite Hi Life grooves…
Blo "We Are Out Together" Chapters & Phases
Kyerematen Stars "Maye Obi Den"