A killer album of Afro Funk – with a very unusual origin! In the wake of Manu Dibango's big hit (and some kind of failure to register the copyright), many many versions of "Soul Makossa" were recorded and released, some good, some bad. This album is a good example of that situation – kind of a quickie project issued by Mainstream Records to cash in on the hit – but it's also an amazing bit of lost funk, and a record that's lasted for years in the hearts of beatheads! The group's a studio combo headed by Richard Fritz – and includes funky drummer Paul Humphrey, organist Charles Kynard, and guitarist David T Walker – all players we can trust to keep things groovy.
Petite Afrique, the new album from superb jazz chanteuse Somi, is a song cycle inspired by the vibrant African immigrant community that has become a vital part of Harlem s cultural dimension and to New York City as a whole. The historic uptown neighborhood fondly boasts of West 116th Street as "Little Africa," where passersby can find any number of African immigrant shops selling a vast array of products and food. Over the last decade, gentrification has crept deeper into Harlem, pushing the African immigrants out. With Petite Afrique, Somi ensures that the stories and struggles of New York City's largest African community do not disappear without having ever been told. The songs on the album are based on Somi's conversations with diverse members of the Harlem community reflecting on themes of transnationalism, cultural difference, assimilation and gentrification. Blending modern jazz, African music and the singer-songwriter tradition, Petite Afrique is an amalgamation of the musical and cultural worlds that resonate with Somi as an African AND American woman and a proud Harlemite.
During August 2015 the WDR Big Band performed an impressive concert of large ensemble jazz crossed with African timbres and rhythms, at the Cologne Philharmonic. The guests also included Rhani Krija on percussion, Henry Dorina, electric bass, Woz Kaly, vocals and Jean-Philippe Rykiel, keyboard. The pieces were arranged and conducted by Michael Mossmann. The music is presented by Mokhtar Samba: it is about vibrant rhythms and hypnotising melodies. As Samba feels very close to the music of his ancestors, his pieces are naturally heavily influenced by the elementary power of African rhythms.