December 2, 2011

Vijana Jazz Band | The Koka Koka Sex Battalion

ARTIST:  Vijana Jazz Band
TITLE:  The Koka Koka Sex Battalion 
LABEL:  Sterns 
REVIEW:  This is the fourth installment in East Africa specialist Doug Paterson’s troll of the archives of Nairobi’s AIT Records, and it might be my favorite so far. The subject is the Vijana Jazz Band of Tanzania, a popular musiki wa dansi (literally, “dance music;” stylistically, a close relative of Congolese soukous and Kenyan benga) ensemble of the 70’s and 80’s.  “Vijana” is Swahili for “youth,” and whenever you see “Jazz” in a Central or East African band name, you pretty much know they are a full-sized ensemble (electric instruments, horns, more than one guitar) with a major musical debt to Franco’s OK Jazz and the other popular Congolese bands of the day.  The Tanzanian sound is a bit airier than those of the Congo or Kenya, but there are many elements in common – the sinuous multiple guitars, the mellifluous backing vocals, and of course the dancefloor imperative.  Track 15 adds some psych-rock elements and 11 sounds more Kenyan than Tanzanian; otherwise it’s pretty much straightforward musiki wa dansi, and Vijana played this genre as well as any band of the era.
TOP TRACKS:    1    3    9    11    15
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    2    6    7    10    12    13    14

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