August 8, 2020

Uhuru special

It's an all-African edition of Global A Go-Go this week (Monday August 10, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site).  In the first hour, I'll play female singers from Cabo Verde; sounds from the Horn of Africa featuring music of Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti; and two multicultural takes on Afrobeat.

The second hour will be entirely dedicated to modern highlife -- the amazing sounds of Ghana since 1970, based on Akan traditional music played on Western instruments and incorporating a full slate of outside influences from foxtrot, calypso and big band jazz to rock and funk.  You'll hear from seminal figures like Ebo Taylor and Alhaji K. Frimpong, new music by Santrofi (pictured above) who are revitalizing highlife for the current generation, and more.

August 4, 2020

Charts Jul 28 - Aug 3, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 ANDRE ABUJAMRA | "Alma Nao Tem Cor - Multi 25" [Single] | Tratore
2 KELEKETLA | Keleketla! | Ahead Of Our Time
3 MINYO CRUSADERS AND FRENTE CUMBIERO | From Tokyo To Bogota [EP] | Mais Um
4 DZAMBO AGUSEVI ORCHESTRA | "Old Bazaar Groove (DJ Branski remix)" [Single] | Asphalt Tango
5 LA DAME BLANCHE | "Cogelo Con Calma" [Single] | Nacional
6 FRANCK BIYONG FEAT CRISTINA VIOLLE | Trouble [EP] | Hot Casa
7 K FRIMPONG AND SUPER COMPLEX SOUNDS | Ahyewa Special | Hot Casa
8 WU FEI AND ABIGAIL WASHBURN | Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn | Smithsonian Folkways
9 LINGO SEINI ET SON GROUPE | Musique Hauka | Sahel Sounds
10 AKSAK MABOUL | Figures | Crammed

August 1, 2020

The king of Sudanese jazz

In Sudan, as in many African countries, if you made music in the 1960s with electric guitars and electric keyboards and a drum trap kit (all newly introduced on the continent), you probably called it "jazz."  You might have been playing rock 'n' roll or R&B or Cuban rumba or local styles on the new instruments -- didn't matter, it was all jazz.

Sharhabil Ahmed, still with us at age 84, is the King of Sudanese Jazz, crowned in a 1970s contest and never dethroned.  His sound, a unique mixture of traditional Sudanese music with early 60s rock, surf, funk, Congolese music and East African harmonies, is the soundtrack of the the swinging 60s in Khartoum.  Sharhabil has been anthologized for the first time ever, by Berlin's Habibi Funk Records, and you'll hear one of his tracks this week on Global A Go-Go.

Also this week (Monday August 3, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): throat-singing Hank Williams; trippy cumbia; more IPM (intelligent pop music) from Brazil; two great central African guitar tracks; and John Lee Hooker crashes a Balkan beats dance party.

July 27, 2020

Charts July 21-27, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 KELEKETLA | Keleketla! | Ahead Of Our Time
2 ASHER GAMEDZE | Dialectic Soul | On The Corner
3 ALHOUSSEINI ANIVOLLA AND GIRUM MEZMUR | Afropentatonism | Piranha
4 CHEZIDEK | "Inna Dem Eye / March" [Single] | Tad's
5 LADAMA | Oye Mujer | Six Degrees
6 ACID COCO | "Yo Bailo Sola" [Single] | El Palmas
7 BARRINGTON LEVY | "Praise His Name" [Single] | 17 North Parade
8 MULATU ASTATKE AND BLACK JESUS EXPERIENCE | To Know Without Knowing | Agogo
9 CABRUERA | "A Vida" [Single] | Polen
10 CALIBRO 35 | Momentum | Record Kicks

July 25, 2020

Motion is imperative. We keep moving.

Here's an implausible scenario: You develop the idea for a debut album as part of your masters' thesis.  You write and record and the album.  It's released, and it's immediately compared to the best work of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Don Cherry.

Implausible yes, but that's what's actually happening to South African drummer Asher Gamedze, whose debut Dialectic Soul seems likely to be one of the most acclaimed releases of 2020.  I'm here to tell you: it is really good.  Tune in to Global A Go-Go this week and hear two selections from it as part of an entire first hour dedicated to South African jazz.

Also this week (Monday July 27, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): reggae both devotional and topical; a short trip to Brazil, the world capital of intelligent pop music; and a taste of electro-cumbia.

July 21, 2020

Charts July 14-20, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 LA DAME BLANCHE | "Cogelo Con Calma" [Single] | Nacional
2 MINYO CRUSADERS PLUS FRENTE CUMBIERO | "Cumbia Del Monte Fuji" [Single] | Mais Um Discos
3 JUAN PINA CON LA REVELACION | Juan Pina Con La Revelacion | Vampisoul
4 JIMI TENOR | "Sugar And Spice / Lover's Bridge" [Single] | Philophon
5 PETE RODRIGUEZ | "I Like It Like That" (Uproot Andy Remix) b/w "I Like It Like That (Original)" [Single] | Craft Latino
6 BAMBA WASSOULOU GROOVE | Dankele | Lusafrica
7 FADHILEE ITULYA | Kwetu | Naxos World
8 JUNGLE FIRE | Jungle Fire | Nacional
9 CEU | APKA! | Six Degrees
10 DANDANA | "Free The System" [Single] | Rebel Up

July 19, 2020

101st century global raw soul

Sometimes a record label has its own sound -- the combination of esthetics, players, equipment, place and time all are in alignment.  As soon as you hear one of their records, you know: that's a Blue Note, this one is Motown, that's Sun or Factory or Stax or Daptone or now maybe Spacebomb.

Philophon Records in Berlin is in that category: all their sides (mostly 45s but also some LPs) sound like nothing other than Philophon, no matter where the named artists were born or live.  I'll illustrate on this week's program with four Philophon tracks by artists from four different countries.

Also this week (Monday July 20, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): two imaginative takes on the Ethiopian tradition, big band cumbia from the 1950s to now, rap with Cuban sabor, some West African favorites, and more of the real boogaloo: no weapons cosplay, just 1967 Latin soul.

July 13, 2020

Charts Jun 30 - Jul 13, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 KELEKETLA | Keleketla! | Ahead Of Our Time
2 SAHRA HALGAN TRIO | Waa Dardaaran | Buda
3 MULATU ASTATKE AND BLACK JESUS EXPERIENCE | To Know Without Knowing | Agogo
4 LIDO PIMIENTA | Miss Colombia | Anti-
5 CALIBRO 35 | Momentum | Record Kicks
6 CADENCE REVOLUTION: DISQUES DEBS INTERNATIONAL VOL. 2 | various artists | Strut
7 GILBER T | "Sinnerman" [Single] | Tomba
8 JAAKKO LAITINEN AND VAARA RAHA | Borek | Playground
9 SUPERFONICOS | "El Adios" [Single] | Public Hi-Fi
10 GROUPE RTD | The Dancing Devils Of Djibouti | Ostinato

July 11, 2020

Consistent fantasy is reality

Gaye Su Akyol (pictured above)'s most recent album is entitled Consistent Fantasy Is Reality (or Istkrarli Hayal Hakikattir in the original Turkish).  She's saying that we have to dream into action the reality we want to live.  Or you could flip the notion over and use it as a slogan for, let's say, Fox News.

Either way, it's a hell of a good title.  You'll hear Akyol this week in a set of Turkish psychedelic-tinged music from the past and present, all with a kind of science-fiction feel to it.

Also this week (Monday July 13, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): birdsong of Latin America, cadence-lypso from the French Caribbean, blues and spirituals with a Global A Go-Go twist, West African highlife from 1958 to today, and Arabic pop and electronic dabke from Palestine and Syria.

July 4, 2020

At the front I was finally free

Sahra Halgan first got serious about singing when she was a 16 year old nurse serving at the front line of Somalia's civil war.  She says, "At the front I was finally free.  The soldiers had other things to do than forbid me to sing."

In 1988, her country's air force dropped bombs on her hometown, Hargeisa, driving Sahra and many others into exile.  She stayed in France for 24 years, working as a janitor in a public school (among other jobs) and developing her music.

Sahra moved back to Hargeisa after the civil war ended in 2012 and opened the first post-war music venue in Somalailand (Somalia's northwest province which seceded from the failed state in 1991).  Her second album was released in March and it's remarkable, although no more remarkable than her life story.  You'll hear the Sahra Halgan Trio's new music this week on Global A Go-Go.

Also this week (Monday July 6, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): a short survey of nyabinghi drumming in Jamaican popular music, the best Balkan brass album of the year is from Finland of all places, 35 years of South African dance music in three songs, the marvelous guitar music of Angola called semba, and a brand-new single from Austin's Superfonicos.

June 30, 2020

Charts June 23-29, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 LUKA PRODUCTIONS AND KANDIAFA | Music From Saharan WhatsApp 06 [EP] | Sahel Sounds
2 AMARIA HAMADALHER | Music From Saharan WhatsApp 05 [EP] | Sahel Sounds
3 NICO GOMEZ AND HIS AFRO-PERCUSSION INC | "Baila Chibiquiban" [Single] | Matasuna
4 ALKIBAR JUNIOR | Music From Saharan WhatsApp 04 | Sahel Sounds
5 HAILU MERGIA | Yene Mircha | Awesome Tapes From Africa
6 SILVERY BOYS, THE | The Silvery Boys | Vampisoul
7 JEICH OULD BALDU | Music From Saharan WhatsApp 03 [EP] | Sahel Sounds
8 ETRAN DE L'AIR | Music From Saharan WhatsApp 01 [EP] | Sahel Sounds
9 SUPERFONICOS | "El Adios" [Single] | Public Hi-Fi
10 BAHAMA SOUL CLUB | "Never Roam No More (feat John Lee Hooker)" [Single] | Buyu

June 27, 2020

Put your cellphone down, in the place of me

We'll start this week's program with four selections from Sahel Sound's new Music From Saharan WhatsApp series.  Throughout 2020, the label is releasing one EP a month that's been recorded by the artists on a cellphone in the southern Sahara, transmitted over WhatsApp, and uploaded to Bandcamp where it's available for a month before it disappears, just like a WhatsApp message does.

This subversive distribution model gives 100 percent of the proceeds to the musicians and reflects how most music is acquired in the region: by file sharing (with no payment to the artists, of course) over WhatsApp.  It's also resulted in an immediacy that you just won't hear in other recordings -- it's the next best thing to the live performances we're all missing right now.  You can read more about the series here.

Also this week (Monday June 29, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): kora shredding; a taste of Afro-Japanese music; the latest from Ukraine's DakhaBrakha; Latin psych-funk from the 60s and 70s; and a Hailu Mergia sampler.

June 22, 2020

Charts June 16-22, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 GROUPE RTD | The Dancing Devils Of Djibouti | Ostinato
2 POIRIER | Soft Power | Wonderwheel
3 MICHAEL MENDEZ | "Love TKO" [Single] | Purple Lion
4 CHALO CORREIA | "Kudihohola / Chercher Crioula" [Single] | Matasuna
5 BELLA BLAIR | "Gimmie A Light" [Single] | Frankie
6 ALBOROSIE | "Unprecedented Time" [Single] | VP
7 INNA DE YARD | "Skylarking (feat Horace Andy)" [Single] | Chapter Two / Wagram
8 SANTROFI | Alewa | Out Here
9 DAVID WALTERS | Soleil Kreyol | Heavenly Sweetness
10 JONAZ | "Cangrejita" [Single] | self-released

June 18, 2020

Shoulder dance

You might know it as the Harlem shake.  But like a lot of American dance crazes, it actually started in Africa.  The characteristic shoulder popping of the Harlem shake looks a whole lot like the traditional Ethiopian dance called esketsa (literally "dancing shoulders").  On this episode of Global A Go-Go, you'll hear the "chic-chic-ka" rhythm, the one you do the esketsa to, as performed by artists from Ethiopia, Djibouti and the USA.

Also this week (Monday June 22, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): British electric folk with a psychedelic haze; modern highlife from 1980 and 2020; four new reggae singles; a set of vintage Brazilian samba-soul; and the rhythms of Cote D'Ivoire's coupe decale.

June 15, 2020

Charts June 9-15, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 ORKESTA MENDOZA | Curandero | Glitterbeat
2 FALLE NIOKE AND GHOST CULTURE | "Barke" [Single] | PRAH
3 K FRIMPONG AND SUPER COMPLEX SOUNDS | Ahyewa Special | Hot Casa
4 KEVIN FLOREZ AND THE BUSY TWIST | "Champetizate" [Single] | Palenque / Farra Rap
5 WU FEI AND ABIGAIL WASHBURN | Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn | Smithsonian Folkways
6 ORCHESTRA GOLD | "Lemuru" [Single] | self-released
7 AKSAK MABOUL | Figures | Crammed
8 CALIBRO 35 | Momentum | Record Kicks
9 BELLA BLAIR | "Gimmie A Light" [Single] | Frankie
10 EL BUHO | "Black Catbird (feat The Garifuna Collective)" [Single] | Shika Shika