Mardi Soir Sessions Vol X
Tropical Fiesta

Tropical Fiesta - Los Hermanos Brothers

Tracklist: Mardi Soir Sessions (Vol.10):
“Tropical Fiesta”

1. lord kitchener - sax nr2 
2. jackie mitto - el bang bang
3. los corraleros - la burita
4. russ henderson - west indian drums
5. lola martin - edamise oh!
6. roland alphonso - 20-75  
7. j.k. mayengani & the shingwedzi sisters - khubani
8. manny Corchado - pow wow

9. tito puente - hit the bongo
10. the blue rhythm combo - black water gold

11. Dave Cortez - happy soul with a hook
12. El Timba - descarga bontempi
13. pedro beltran - Puyalo ahi
14. ubhekitshe namajongosi - umaduna omnyama
15. sir victor uwaifo - ohue (frankie francis & simbad edit)
16. canadoes dance band - fine woman (sofrito edit)
17. Ray Barreto - o elephante (shh remix)
18. nickodemus/quantic - mi swing es tropical

As a result of the numerous festive engagements with which Los Hermanos Brothers start out the already promising new year 2012, this month's compilation stands for the kind of thing we like to do when we're wearing our fez. That's right: It's fiesta time ! From the London-based calypsonians to the cumbia of Colombia's Atlantic Coast or from Jamaican ska to mbaqanga from Soweto, we hope these hints of tropical heat might brighten your day, and above all, we hope you let the groove move y'all... 

Vibrant and beautiful almost beyond words, the fifty year old recordings being collected on Honest Jons' London Is The Place For Me series are precious treasures of early black British music. Exquisite artistic achievements in their own right, they also throw light on the early development of post bop jazz in the UK.


Volume one in the series, released in '02 and subtitled Trinidadian Calypso In London, 1950-1956, features all-but-forgotten masterpieces of reportage, social commentary and louche wit from Lord Kitchener, Lord Beginner, the Lion, and other recently arrived young calypsonians. The second volume, subtitled Calypso & Kwela, Highlife & Jazz From Young Black London, concentrates on the same period but widens the geo-stylistic net.

Featured musicians, caught early in their careers and still working within the rich contexts of their native folk musics, include trumpeter Shake Keane from St. Vincent, later a collaborator in Joe Harriott's free jazz explorations, but in '55 on "Baionga" in exuberant jazz-highlife mode; clarinetist Willie Roachford and trumpeter Harry Beckett, from Barbados, soloists in Ambrose Campbell's jazz-infused West African Rhythm Brothers highlife band; and from South Africa, alto saxophonists Gwigwi Mrwebi and Dudu Pukwana, together with two of Pukwana's Blue Note colleagues, pianist Chris McGregor and trumpeter Mongezi Feza.

« Saxophone Nr 2 » features on the second installment in Honest Jon's Records' survey of the impact of African and Caribbean musicians on London's music scene in the 1940s and 1950s. Covering roughly 1950 through 1956, Volume 2 features a multicultural mix of Londonized calypso, African jazz, and highlife with just a touch of bop thrown in. Highlights include a pair of point/counterpoint hybrid calypsos that take on the musical merits of bebop, Young Tiger's "Calypso Be," which embraces Count Basie in the lyrics but dismisses Dizzy Gillespie and the whole bop movement, and King Timothy's "Gerrard Street," which pays tribute to Soho's Gerrard Street, home of several bop clubs. As a whole, this 20-cut anthology has a warm and mellow flow, and while it probably won't change anyone's life, it features several African and West Indies musicians, for instance Lord Kitchener, who would become key players in the emerging multicultural London jazz scene. 

Kitchener's success began after he moved to England in 1948. His fame continued throughout the 1950s, when calypso achieved international success. Later, though, he moved towards soca, a related style, and continued recording until his death. Kitchener emigrated from Trinidad, spending six months in Jamaica before traveling to the UK. In 1952, he met his wife Marjorie. During the 1950s he built a large following in the expatriate communities of the West Indian islands. Kitch became a very important figure to those first 5000 West Indian migrants to the UK. His music spoke of home and a life that they all longed for but in many cases couldn't or wouldn't return to. At first there were difficulties with English audiences who did not understand all the words, but that did not deter Kitch, and after the BBC gave him a chance to broadcast, he moved on to club bookings, and was soon performing in three clubs every night. 

Kitch returned to Trinidad in 1962. He and the Mighty Sparrow proceeded to dominate the calypso competitions of the sixties and seventies. Lord Kitchener won the road march competition ten times between 1965 and 1976, more times than any other calypsonian. For 30 years, Kitchener ran his own calypso tent, Calypso Revue, by which he nurtured the talent of many calypsonians.

Jamaica earned its independence in 1962, and in many ways ska was the joyous and energetic expression of that event, a music that burst past its lineage of American jazz and R&B into a kinetic area all its own, and until around 1965, when the hangover began to wear off and the slower, moodier rhythms of rocksteady began to take over, ska presented the fingerprint of Jamaica to the world. Front and center in the ska explosion was Clement Dodd's immortal Studio One, which opened its doors in 1963, and that studio's house band, The Skatalites, who are featured in one way or another on every track on the fine sampler of Studio One's ska year from wich we play the Jackie Mittoo classic « El Bang Bang ». One of the chief founding members of The Skatalites was Cuban-born tenor saxophonist Roland Alphonso. 

Alphonso came to Jamaica at the age of two with his Jamaican mother, and started to learn saxophone at the Stony Hill Industrial School. In 1948 he left school to join Eric Deans' orchestra and soon passed through other bands in the hotel circuit and first recorded as a member of Stanley Motta's group in 1952, going on to record frequently as a session musician. In 1956 he first recorded for Clement « Coxone » Dodd, although these early recordings were lost before they were mastered. In 1959 he joined the band of Cluett Johnson and backed many of Dodd's recording sessions in a typical Jamaican R&B style. He also acted as arranger at many of Dodd's recording sessions. By 1960, he was recording for many other producers such as Duke Reid, Lloud « The Matador » Daley and King Edwards, as well as continuing to work for Dodd, contributing alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, and flute to recordings. During this period he played in many different bands, such as The Alley Cats, The City Slickers and The Dew Droppers. In 1963, he took part in the creation of The Studio One Orchestra, the first session band at Dodd's newly-opened recording studio. This band soon adopted the name of The Skatalites. 

When the Skatalites disbanded by August 1965, Alphonso formed the Soul Brothers (with Johnny Moore and Jackie Mittoo) to become The Soul Vendors in 1967. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Alphonso led the Ruinaires, the resident band at the Ruins restaurant/nightclub, this coming to an end when he suffered a stroke at the age of 41. He recovered quickly from this setback, and relocated to the United States in late 1972, soon returning to performing and recording. He released the first album under his name in 1973 on the Studio One record label.

During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, he kept on playing on numerous records coming out from Jamaican studios, especially for Bunny Lee, and he toured with many bands. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he played with the band Jah Malla, performing regularly on the live circuit around New York.

It's not a significant overstatement to say that the story of Colombian music in the 20th century is the story of Antonio Fuentes, the founder and owner of two pivotal music distribution sources - the radio station Emisora Fuentes and the record label Discos Fuentes. An excellent operation from its beginnings in the mid-'30s, Discos Fuentes captured the emerging modernization of cumbia and later vallenato, a collision of forms both urban and rural (or coastal and inland, respectively). Starting in the '40s, big bands led by Lucho Bermudez and Edmundo Arias earned fame far beyond Colombian borders, and in the '50s and '60s Fuentes' crackerjack house band was led by Pedro Laza  and later, the most colorful man in Colombian music, Fruko.

Julio Ernesto Estrada formed Fruko y sus Tesos  in 1970, and modeled it after the New York salsa sound of the Fania All-Stars, one of the leading salsa groups at the time. Fruko began his musical career at the age of fifteen when he joined the legendary Vallenato group, Los Corraleros de Majagual. It was with Los Corraleros back in 1968 that gave him the first opportunity to travel to New York to witness the city's burgeoning salsa scene.

Los Corraleros de Majagual es un grupo de música costeña, creado en el año 1962, considerado como uno de los mejores interpretes de la música de la Costa Atlántica Colombiana, con gran proyección y éxito a nivel nacional e internacional. Entre sus integrantes más renombrados se incluyen: Alfredo Gutiérrez, Calixto Ochoa, Eliseo Herrera, Joe Arroyo y Lisandro Meza.

Strut followed their recent forays into Nigerian and Ethio grooves with a three-part series exploring underground South African music during the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Jazz had been a fixture in South African music since the ‘50s and jive (or mbaqanga) initially emerged a decade later as a fusion combining elements of rural Zulu music and harmony vocal styles with Western instrumentation. Early stars like “groaner” Simon Mahlathini, Nkabinde and the Mahotella Queens were key in developing a colourful, danceable sound and a competitive scene began to flourish during the late ‘60s with rival female groups like Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje gaining in popularity. 

The term mbaqanga had first been used in the late 40s to describe the early sounds of Sophiatown jazz, a style best represented on this collection by Reggie Msomi & The Hollywood Jazz Band’s joyous ‘Soul Chakiri’. But in its golden era of the late 60s, mbaqanga became most closely associated with groups like Mahlathini & The Queens who fused traditional rural music with the electrified sounds of the townships, to create music that spoke loudly to the increasing numbers of rural migrants. While many of the stars of mbaqanga clung to their rural roots with strident song and dance reviews, others took a more revolutionary stance - as jazz became the sound of rebellion. “If the African child was taught music which he felt was satisfying, the synthetic attractions of jazz would gradually assume ever decreasing importance,” stated a typically paranoid Bantu music education thesis in the mid 50s. Such was the threat to the authorities of a sophisticated worldly aware black urban population that jazz musicians took the brunt of the clampdowns and censorship. Just as much of a threat was the racial interaction that jazz inspired, and as part of the Separate Amenities Act of 1963 mixed gatherings were banned. While the government promoted tribal rural music and the idea of a compliant and backward black population, jazz musicians responded by looking to the future and to the pan-African fight taking place from Alabama to Angola. All through this incredible period in South African jazz, the players who stayed behind were forging their own distinct styles that while rejecting tribal clichés mined the region’s rich ancestral music. With all obvious words and messages of resistance censored, the freedom principle of jazz became a vital tool for change. 

Less well documented but brought gloriously to life by Volume 2 of Strut’s brilliant series were the raucous young soul and funk bands that burst out of the townships in the late 60s and early 70s. Just as jazz musicians locked into the pan-African struggle, so an even stronger brand of black consciousness oozed through the organ heavy grooves of the younger generation. Such was the influence of these overlooked bands that, as David Coplan points out: “In this early rock and ‘Soweto Soul’ of the early 70’s, we might sense the expressive roots of the student Soweto Uprising (of 1975) that followed”. While the likes of Coltrane and Archie Shepp inspired jazz players in their pan African struggle, it was artists like Booker T & the MGs and Jimi Hendrix who spoke loudly to the restless young musicians of this underground scene. “We could not relate to mbaqanga because we considered ourselves more literate, educated you know,” Sipho Mabuse of the influential group The Beaters (later renamed Harari) explained to Gwen Ansell. Their desire for change and resistance to stereotyping was reflected in both the urgency of the grooves and their cultish fashion sense (from the dakishi clad hipsters to the Converse-wearing pantsulas whose influence still resounds today) that asserted both self-assertion and modernity. With names like The Flaming Souls and The Monks and some of the heaviest funk grooves you’ve ever heard, these township youths screamed for liberty. Whether through overt lyrics such as on The Heroes’ ‘Come With Me’ (which spoke of re-unification with Africa) or more often in the hidden messages behind the strident funk of tracks like ‘Nkuli’s Shuffle’ by The Kooks, you can taste the impatience for change that would see this new generation rise up and begin the breakdown of this regime. With the World Cup acting as one the most important events in African social history since the end of Apartheid, it’s time to remember those who helped sow the seeds of freedom.