Category Archives: CC – Listening 2015

First-time listening for December 2015

27149. (Ferde Grofé) Hud­son River Suite
27150. (How To Dress Well) Love Remains
27151. (Leon­i­nus [Leo Léonin]) Messe du Jour de Noël
27152. (Nathan Chan & ThatVi­o­laKid) “Hello” [Adele cover]
27153. (Young Thug) Barter 6
27154. (tUnE-yArDs) Nikki Nack
27155. (Du Mingxin) Sym­phony “The Great Wall”
27156. (Bran­don Flow­ers) The Desired Effect
27157. (Girls At Our Best!) Plea­sure
27158. (Charles Min­gus) Charles Min­gus Group with Konitz & Cello Read more »

Mbongwana Means Change

15-12-28 LISTENING Mbongwana Star

Mbong­wana Star

I fell in love with African pop music long ago, in Nige­ria, dur­ing the heady days of Vic­tor Owaifo, Dele Abio­dun and King Sunny Adé (whose hand I got to shake in Toronto, many years later). I’ve tried to fol­low it ever since, but there is sim­ply too much to keep track of. Africa pro­duces wave after wave of new music, the hotspots shift­ing back and forth from region to region. Kin­shasa is a hotspot, lately.

Mbong­wana Star is tak­ing African pop in a new direc­tion with the release this year of From Kin­shasa. Mbong­wana actu­ally means “change” in Lin­gala, and the change is appar­ent. Musi­cians in the Congo* have long been in a groove whose out­side influ­ences were pri­mar­ily reg­gae, souk­ous and clas­sic rhyhm and blues. From Kin­shasa is quite dif­fer­ent. It has a spacy, almost psy­che­delic sen­si­bil­ity that pulls influ­ences from punk and elec­tron­ica, and has an ambi­ence some­thing like the sci­ence fiction-motown exper­i­ments that George Clin­ton made back in the 1970s. This amount of inno­va­tion is all the more remark­able because the founders of the band, Yakala “Coco” Ngam­bali and Nsi­tu­vuidi “Theo” Nzonza, are men in their six­ties, con­fined to wheel­chairs, and vet­er­ans of the brief celebrity of Staff Benda Bilili.

15-12-28 LISTENING Staff Benda Bilili

Staff Benda Bilili

Staff Benda Bilili was a freak suc­cess a few years ago. It emerged from the slums of Kin­shasa, and was com­prised of four elderly men who had been con­fined to impro­vised tricycle-wheelchairs by child­hood polio, accom­pa­nied by a teenager who played an elec­tric lute that he had hand-made from scraps. They appeared periph­er­ally in a French doc­u­men­tary on Kinshasa’s slum life and music scene called Jupiter’s Dance in 2006. Four years later, the same pro­duc­ers and direc­tors made a slicker doc­u­men­tary focused on them, which was a hit at Cannes and made them overnight stars in Europe. What fol­lowed was the clas­sic tragi­com­edy of instant suc­cess. They toured the world, giv­ing hun­dreds of con­certs, released two fine albums, Très très fort (2009) and Bouger le Monde! (2012). They made a for­tune on paper, but the money evap­o­rated in the unfa­mil­iar maze of con­tracts, hangers-on, per diems, and tour­ing costs that plague the global music indus­try, and which they were unequiped to nav­i­gate. At one point, they found them­selves pen­ni­less in Trinidad, with no gig, no place to stay, and no air­fare home. Finally, the band broke up with the usual con­fu­sion and ran­cour. But the two albums they issued are fine exam­ples of the Kin­shasa sound, lively and entertaining.

Ngam­bali and Nzonza did not give up, how­ever. They returned to Kin­shasa and dug up some young musi­cians back in their old neigh­bour­hood. They found per­cus­sion­ist Randy Makana Kam­bal­aya in a shel­ter for the dis­abled, a young street urchin known only as “Sage” who played vibes, and Jean-Claude Kam­ina Mulodi, a bril­liant gui­tarist. Mbong­wana Star was born, and they were open to new musi­cal influ­ences, for the Staff Benda Bilili vet­er­ans had been exposed to a lot of stuff in their world tour, and absorbed it with inter­est. Con­nect­ing with an expe­ri­enced Irish pro­ducer, Doc­tor L, famil­iar with the African scene but also savvy in the music busi­ness, put them back on track. While the two ear­lier albums are good stuff, worth repeated lis­ten­ing, From Kin­shasa is some­thing entirely new, and I’ve been play­ing it over and over again with pleasure.

— * the for­mer Bel­gian Colony, pre­vi­ously called Zaire, not the Congo Repub­lic, a for­mer French colony next door to it.

First-time listening for November 2015

27099. (Ferde Grofé) Avi­a­tion Suite
27100. (Gio­vanni Pier­luigi da Palest­rina) Missa Viri Galilaei
27101. (Gio­vanni Pier­luigi da Palest­rina) Motet: Viri Galilaei
27102. (Gio­vanni Pier­luigi da Palest­rina) Mag­ni­fi­cat Primi Toni
27103. (Alpha Blondy & The Solar Sys­tem) “Yitzhak Rabin” [sin­gle]
27104. (Pink Indus­try) Who Told You, You Were Naked
27105. (Ferde Grofé) Hol­ly­wood Suite
27106. (King Jammy) “Jump Song Dub” [sin­gle]
27107. (Frank Ocean) Dream Killa [mix­tape]
27108. (Del-Bizanteens) Lies To Live By
27109. (Wolf Alice) My Love Is Cool Read more »


15-11-10 LISTENING Yate HallelujahLeonard Cohen’s 1984 song “Hal­lelu­jah” has been cov­ered by many artists (begin­ning with John Cale), but I don’t think I’ve ever heard any­thing as mag­nif­i­cent as this per­for­mance by Francesco Yates, a soul-pop singer from Toronto who has entered the music scene with an EP, but has yet to release his first album. I just heard it on the radio a few hours ago, and was aston­ished by it. In the inter­views I googled, he comes across as witty and intelligent.

After this Youtube clip check out his fine ren­di­tion of Kendrick Lamar’s bit­ter “Swim­ming Pools (drank)”:

and he’s just as good at the piano, rein­car­nat­ing Mar­vin Gaye:

First-time listening for October 2015

27051. (Zchiw Song Ensem­ble) Zchiw [Жъыу] [Zamudin Ghwch’e & Zawir Negh­wey on
. . . . ancient Adi­gean instru­ments]
27052. (Orb) Orb’s Adven­tures Beyond the Ultra­world
27053. (Edward Sharpe & the Mag­netic Zeros) Here
27054. (Glenn Miller) Sec­ond Press­ing [5 disk set]
27055. (Eric Salz­man & Michael Sahl) Civ­i­liza­tion & Its Dis­con­tents [musi­cal com­edy]
27056. (Bobby Vee) Come Back When You Grow Up
27057. New­port in New York ’72 — The Jam Ses­sions, vol. 1: Jumpin’ at the Wood­side &
. . . . Lo-Slo Bluze [Charles McPher­son, Charles Min­gus, Alan Daw­son, Milt Buck­ner,
. . . . Roland Hanna, Buddy Tate, Cat Ander­son, Jimmy Owens]
27058. (Ray Noble) Ray Noble Plays Ray Noble
27059. (The­ory of a Dea­man) The­ory of a Deadman Read more »

First-time listening for September 2015

27040. (Giro­lamo Fres­cobaldi) Messa Madona
27041. (Adam and the Ants) Dirk Wears White Sox
27042. (Gilles Bin­chois) Triste plaisir et douloureuse joie
27043. (Fuck But­tons) “Bright Tomor­row”; “Lit­tle Bloody Shoul­der” [sin­gle]
27044. (Erroll Gar­ner) Erroll Gar­ner [Verve Jazz Mas­ters #7]
27045. (Swans) Filth
27046. (New Order) Move­ment
27047. (Notker the Stam­merer) Natus ante saec­ula
27048. (Sleater-Kinney) Dig Me Out
27049. (Veena Sahasrabud­dhe) Raga Abhogi
27050. (Veena Sahasrabud­dhe) Raga Jog

First-time listening for August 2015

27027. (Philopoc­tus de Caserta) En remi­rant vo douce pour­trai­ture
27028. (Henri Dutilleux) Tim­bres, espaces, mou­ve­ment, ou ‘La nuit étoilée’ Part 1
27029. (Iron But­ter­fly) Heavy
27030. (Adam & the Ants) “Deutscher Girls” [from Derek Jarman’s Jubilee sound­track]
27031. (Géry de Ghersem) Missa Ave Virgo Sanc­tis­sima
27032. (Duke Elling­ton) Buf­fet Flat
27033. (Kam­barkan Folk Ensem­ble) “Jolughabuz az kündö [We Will Meet Soon]”
27034. (Antje Duvekot) New Siberia
27035. (Adam and the Ants) Live at the Round­house, 1978
27036. (Toumani Dia­baté & Bal­laké Sis­soko) New Ancient Strings
27037. (Anni­bale Padovano) Messe à 24 voix
27038. (Plat­ters) Four Plat­ters and One Lovely, Vol.8
27039. (Jacobus Gal­lus Cornio­lus) Missa Super Sancta Maria

First-time listening for July 2015

27004. Did­jeri­doo: Musique aborigène d’Australie
27005. (Off­spring) The Off­spring
27006. (Kas­siani) Dox­a­zomen sou Christe
27007. (Kas­siani) Ek rizis agathis
27008. (Kas­siani) O syna­po­s­ta­tis tyran­nos
27009. (Kas­siani) O Phar­iseos
27010. (Kas­siani) O Vasilevs tis doxis Chris­tos
27011. (Kas­siani) I Edessa
27012. (Kas­siani) Tin pen­ta­chor­don lyran
27013. (Kas­siani) Igapisas theophore
27014. (Kas­siani) Yper ton Elli­non
27015. (Kas­siani) I en polles amar­ties
27016. (Kas­siani) Pela­gia
27017. (Kas­siani) Tou stavrou sou I dynamis
27018. (Kas­siani) Olvon lipousa patrikon
27019. (Kas­siani) Petron ke Pavlon
27020. (Kas­siani) Isaïou nyn tou prophi­tou
27021. (Kas­siani) I ton lip­sanon sou thiki
27022. (Kas­siani) Avgous­tou monar­chisan­tos
27023. (Kas­siani) Christina mar­tys
27024. (Fela Kuti) Koola Lobitos: The ’69 L.A. Ses­sions
27025. (Suede) Dog Man Star
27026. (Vic­tor Uwaifo) Guitar-Boy Super­star 1970–76

First-time listening for June 2015

26985. (Henk Bad­ings) Sym­phony #3
26986. (Wu-Tang Clan) Enter the Wu-Tang
26987. (Real Estate) Days
26988. (Tarun Bhat­tacharya) Hyp­notic San­toor
26989. (Miley Cyrus) Bangerz
26990. (Dinah Wash­ing­ton) Dinah Wash­ing­ton [Verve Jazz Mas­ters #19]
26991. (Louis Arm­strong) “West End Blues”
26992. (Paul White­man & George Gersh­win) “Rhap­sody in Blue” [short ver­sion]
26993. (Fats Waller) “Ain’t Mis­be­havin’” Read more »

First-time listening for May 2015

26800. (Sergei Rach­mani­nov) Liturgy of St. John Chry­sis­tom
26801. (Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd) The Moon and the Melodies
26802. (Bohuslav Mar­t­inů) Con­certo #1 for Cello and Orches­tra
26803. (Kendrick Lamar [as K-dot] & Jay Rock) Train­ing Day [mix­tape]
26804. (Suede) Suede
26805. (7oi) Lost Under a Pile
26806. (Jhené Aiko) Sail­ing Soul(s) Read more »