Saturday, April 30, 2011

"One Tribe, Many Voices" Podcast Episode 111

This week's show is Part-4 in the series: Exploring the Africanization of Black America Music.

"The Godfather of Soul Africanizes the World".

intro: Always There / Ronnie Laws  / Pressure Sensitive

Set one:

1. On the Goodfoot / Rasheed Ali
2. Bang, Bang / Joe Cuba / Wanted Dead or Alive

Set two:

1. Mother Popcorn / James Brown
2. Se Na Min / El Rego et Ses Commandos / African Scream Contest
3. Give it up, Turn it Loose / James Brown

Set three:

1. Ghana'e / Willie Colon w/ Hector Lavoe / La Gran Fuga
2. I Got the Feeling / James Brown
3. It's  a Vanity / Gabo & Orchestra Poly-Rhythmo / African Scream Contest
4. Super Bad / James Brown

Set four:

1. Get Up (Sex Machine) / James Brown
2. Wait for Me / Roger Damawuzan / African Scream Contest
3. Hot Pants / James Brown
4. Keleya / Moussa Doumbia / World Psychedelic Classics

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"One Tribe, Many Voices" Podcast Episode 110

Our Annual Earth Day Special! 

Featuring Part Three of 'Africa in America'.

This week's featured artist is Earth, Wind & Fire, once again.

intro: Biyo / Earth, Wind & Fire / Spirit

Set one:

1. Faces / Earth, Wind & Fire / Faces

Set two:

1. Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing / Stevie Wonder / Inner Visions
2. La Cancion del Amor / Rasheed Ali & Rain People / Agua Que Va a Caer
3. The Ghetto / Donny Hathaway

Set three:

1. Drum Song / Earth, Wind & Fire / Open our Eyes
2. Voodoo / The Neville Brothers / Yellow Moon
3. In the Marketplace / Earth, Wind & Fire / All n' All

Set four:

1. Happy Feeling / Earth, Wind & Fire / That's the Way of the World
2. Wake Up / The Neville Brothers / Yellow Moon
3. Power / Earth, Wind & Fire / Last Days and Time
4. Earth, Wind & Fire / Earth, Wind & Fire / Spirit

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"One Tribe, Many Voices" Podcast Episode 109

One musical group has embodied the Africanization of the American beat: Earth, Wind and Fire.
This week's show focuses on the special musical and cultural contributions of Earth, Wind and Fire.

This is actually the second part to last week's show celebrating 'Africa in America', or the Africanization of Black music in the United States. To some readers, referring to the Africanization of Black American music may seem like an odd reference. Yet, from my African-Caribbean mindset and viewpoint, the lack of real African drums and traditional rhythms created an unusual musical identity in the United States. The beat of the drums underwent a transmutation and was hidden in a new syncopated version of European styled music.

Painting: Varnette P. Honeywood

I can recall when I was younger, hearing Afro-Americans reluctant to connect any part of themselves or culture to an African identity. Kids would declare: "I aint no African!" To them, Africa was a primitive, foreign identity. That attitude has not really disappeared from the American mindset, it has just morphed into a new one that identifies African culture as that of US immigrants. So, now African culture is something new that comes from Nigeria, Ghana or Senegal. For those of us from the tropical zone, our Africanisms are much more difficult to deny. Though the same affliction of shame abounds in the minds of the African Diaspora where ever they reside. Still, whether confusion of 'what to call ourselves' exist or not, everyone knows that Calypso, Reggae, Merengue, Samba and Guaguanco are all African musical expressions and forms. Earth, Wind and Fire connected the dots between Africa,Brasil, the Caribbean and America.

Intro: Evil / Earth, Wind & Fire / Head to the Sky

Set one:

1. Partido Alto / Flora Purim & Airto / The Colors of Life
2. Fair but so Uncool / Earth, Wind & Fire / Open our Eyes

Set two:

1. Ponta de Lanca Africana / Jorge Ben
2. Time is on Your Side / Earth, Wind & Fire / Last Days in Time
3. Caramba / Jorge Ben
4. Let me Talk / Earth, Wind & Fire / All n' All

Set  three:

1.Runnin' / Earth, Wind & Fire / All n' All

Set four:

1. Cru-Cre Corroro / Ivan Lins / Awa Yio
2. Serpentine Fire / Earth, Wind & Fire / All n' All

Set five:

1. Brazilian Rhyme Interlude / Earth, Wind & Fire / All n' All
2. Ponta de Areia / Wayne Shorter w/ Milton Nascimento / Native Dancer
3. Bird of Paradise / Stevie Wonder / Fullingness First Finale
4. Brazilian Rhyme / Earth, Wind & Fire / All n' All

5. Fica no Brasil / Rasheed Ali & Rain People / Tristeza e Beleza

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"One Tribe, Many Voices" Podcast Episode 108

This week's show is a reminder that the journey of African-Americans in the United States towards acceptance of their African identity has been a long and winding road.

There have been waves of Afrocentricity that have ebbed and flowed through the courses of US history. This desire to learn more about a forgotten legacy often at odds with a desire to "move on" and become an accepted member of a uniquely American identity. For many in the United States there was a legacy of shame and denial made easier by the absence of a strong, easily identifiable African culture. Surely, the Africanisms are present in the expressions of a US culture but the dots were never really connected to Africa. Instead, these cultural affectations were heralded as being the fabric of a uniquely American expression. Jazz, blues, gospel, rhythm and blues all being viewed through the prism of a post-slavery expression. Though there may have been some resignation that Africa was too distant a memory to uphold for the formerly enslaved, the slave masters certainly promoted this concept to their benefit.

Unlike the Caribbean and parts of South America, the playing of the traditional African drums were banned in the United States. This might seem to some as a civil ordinance rather than the evisceration of an identity. To those who think the drums are merely musical instruments, it is not easy for them to understand that the drums occupied such a central force in the spiritual lives of Africa's people. the drum was an instrument for communicating with the divine. The drums and their usage also drew lines between African tribal and ethnic groups. For instance; taking away the Ashanti drums from the Ashanti meant taking away a language that separated them from their neighboring states and ethnicities. For those who see Africa and Africans as a mass of Black People, this subtle nuance of history is lost. Of course, the Africans south of the Rio Grande River overcame this by merging some universal aspects of their differing cultures. As in Brasil and Cuba, were elements of Yoruba, Ashanti, Dahomey and Congo cultures forged a sometimes indistinct musical and liturgical mixture. It was certainly more advantageous to preserve a collective African identity than to quibble over the details of ethnic delineations.

In the US, the African ceased to exist as an African, they were transformed into Blacks. The monolithic concept of Africans as Blacks that still persist in America has also been promoted as a worldwide concept. Africans never referred to themselves in this way. Africa was never monochromatic, this false identity became a real detriment to the cultural understanding of the African Diaspora in the US.

This false identity continues to be promoted in the image of Black History in the US. As a public school teacher I have participated in many Black History Month Celebrations and the content is always focused on a post-slavery reality.

As a Caribbean-African I have no desire to down play the fact that my Caribbean culinary diet, musical expression, cultural nuance and syntax are heavily African in identity. While this pride has often been resented by those of the African Diaspora of the United States, it must be expressed unabashedly.

There is a need to celebrate any surviving African identities rather than merely celebrating surviving slavery. There are African cultural identities to be found in the US, if you look hard enough.
The culture and people of the Mississippi Delta have been looked down upon by many in urban America. Yet, much like the Caribbean and Brasil, this region of the US represents a fertile crescent of African culture that should be revered. In looking back to Africa we must not forget where to look for Africa in America.

intro: The Drum / Sounds of Blackness / Africa to America

Set one:

1. Took Away the Drum / Mighty Mo Rodgers / Blues is My Wailing Wall
2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings / Branford Marsalis / Buckshot LeFonque

Set two:

1. Going Back to My Roots / Lamont Dozier /

Set three:

1. Say it Loud / James Brown
2. Black Man / Stevie Wonder

Set four:

1. Africa / Rasheed Ali & Rain People
2. Ngiculela, Es Una Historia / Stevie Wonder

Set five:

1. A Change is Gonna Come / Neveille Bros. / Yellow Moon
2. Blues is My Wailing Wall / Mighty Mo Rodgers
3. Looking for Ekwiano / Rasheed Ali / Thunder in the Jungle
4. I Will Cry for You / Rasheed Ali / Thunder in the Jungle

Saturday, April 02, 2011

"One Tribe, Many Voices" Podcast Episode 107

  Special Headphone Mix: A Day at the Beach with Rasheed*

Photo: Kareem Ali

Relax and enjoy a day at the beach with Rasheed Ali & Rain People...

intro: 1. Criollo / Rasheed Ali & Rain People / Agua Santa

2.  Sereia (The Mermaid) / Rasheed Ali w/ Bennie Maupin / Thunder in the Jungle
3.  Tiburon (Shark) / Ruben Blades / Greatest Hits
4.  Come to My Island / Rasheed Ali & Rain People / Thunder in the Jungle
5.  Sandy Lane / Rasheed Ali w/ Carl Kizine / Rain People
6.  Yemaya / Francisco Aguabella y su Grupo Oriza / Bembe
7.  No Mar do Amor (The Sea of Life) / Rasheed Ali & Rain People / Beijos Azuis
8.  Amarteifeio / Alphonso Johnson w/ Flora Purim / Moonshadows
9.  Pescaria (Fishery) Medley for My Father / Dori Caymmi / Brasilian Serenata
10. Nao Pode Ser (It Can't Be) / Rasheed Ali / Tristeza e Beleza na Cidade Negra
11. Las Olas (Waves) / Flora Purim / Everyday, Everynight
12. No Meio do Mar (In the Middle of the Sea) / Rasheed Ali / Beijos Azuis
13. Midnight at the Beach / Rasheed Ali w/ Jeff Nathanson / Rain People

*To really enjoy this show I recommend listening with closed-ear headphones so that you can enjoy the virtual beach re-creation. Being an island boy means loving the beach, it's one of my favorite places on earth!

Notes: I've always been in love with sound design (creating life-like soundscapes) and virtual reality imaging with sound. On all of my CDs I've used live remote recordings that I've done outdoors to help add dimension to a musical story.  I've always been in love with the little details and nuance you can appreciate while listening to headphones with the lights off. Stevie Wonder would always said that to really appreciate his landmark '70's recordings you should hear them the way he does...with headphones in the dark. I've grown up with that idea as a guiding principle when I record. If I can lay back with some headphones in the dark and be lifted into a fantasy, then I've done my job as a composer.

On all of my seven CDs I've experimented with ambient sound, whether recording the street vendors in Brasil on Beijos Azuis or making multiple stereo recordings of a rain storm for the debut Rain People.
I'm probably most proud of my "slave ship" re-creation for the song "I will Cry for You" on Thunder in the Jungle, which included creating a virtual sail boat with items found around the house.

I hope you enjoy this show as much I did creating it. It's the first sound design experiment I've done since last year's Virtual Live Festival Concert Series.