Monday, 10 August 2009

Olatunji & His Percussion, Brass, Woodwind and Choir - Zungo! Afro-Percussion

Jolly Mensah

Zungo! Afro Percussion


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Columbia CS-8434

This one's for ish, the scholar/gentleman from Ile Oxumare and
blog kingpin presiding over Strata-East Fan Club, Magic Purple Sunshine, Nine Sisters and Crap Jazz Covers. He's one of the main inspirations for my entry into blogdom so, when he was generously sharing anecdotes on Chief Bey in the comments of the Guy Warren post and it came to light he was unfamiliar with the second outing by legendary percussionist Olatunji Babatunde, I immediately felt obliged (rather than "obligated") to post this long OOP piece of afrojazz history.

Originally released by Columbia in 1961, they reissued it only once more in 1973 (as ACS-8434). It looks like most of the tracks have appeared on compilations over the years but a lot of those are budget and fly-by-night labels or else borderline bootlegs. When it comes to the album itself, it's fairly easy to find affordable copies ($15-$20 or less) of both the '61 and '73 printings in good condition online. This particular one's been in my possession for plenty years but I've taken pretty good care of it (i.e., rarely played it out) so it's fairly free of snaps, crackles 'n' pops, except for some unavoidable noise near the end of the last track (i.e., the tune that was played out on those rare occasions it found its way into my bag).

If you need to brush up on the bio of Babatunde then I suggest starting with his wiki page, AllAboutJazz and a more-informative-than-usual piece on since they also offer multiple links for further reading. There's also a good post over at the excellent The Basement Rug blog with Drums of Passion and a couple other Olatunji LPs.

Slipcue review:
Although there's some nice, powerful drumming on here, the overall feel of this album may seem a bit top-heavy and monochromatic... It's that "...his percussion, brass, woodwinds, and choir" subheader on the album jacket that'll tip you off. Olatunji and his Nigerian percussion ensemble plays host to a cast of thousands that includes jazzmen such as Ray Barretto, Yusef Lateef and Clark Terry -- great players all, though their contributions are largely buried in the mix. Not a bad album, by any means, though is doesn't quite match the intensity of the earlier Drums Of Passion album. Worth checking out, though... it's very mellow, meditative, easy on the ears and entrancing.

Dusty Groove review:
One of Olatunji's best LPs, and a record that breaks out of his usual straight hard percussion stuff by adding some jazz players like Yusef Lateef, Clark Terry, and George Duvivier. There's also some singers augmenting the ensemble, but they drop out in parts, and the percussion and jazz take over. Olatunji's joined by Ray Barretto and Montego Joe on congas, and the whole thing grooves like one of Art Blakey's jazz/percussion experiments. 7 tracks: "Masque Dance", "Zungo", "Ajua", "Esum Buku Wa-Ya", "Gelewenwe", "Jolly Mensah" and "Philistine".

Babatunde Olatunji - Vocals, Drums [African]
Yusef Lateef - Winds
Clark Terry - Trumpet
Edward Bailey - Trumpet
James Nottingham - Trumpet
George Duvivier - Bass
Will Lee - Bass
Al Schackman - Guitar
Rudy Collins - Drums [Trap]
Beans Whitley - Drums [African]
James "Chief" Bey - Drums [African]
Montigo Joe - Drums [African]
Taiwo Duval - Drums [African]
Ray Barretto - Congas, Timbales

Adele Potter
Adunni Pearson
Afuavi Derby
Aquasiba Derby
Babalola Jones
Chinyelu Ajuluchuku
Christine Chapman
Oyinka Parker
Ernie Truesdale
Helena Walquer
Mario Timmons
Melvin Edwards
Popoola Moore

1 Masque Dance
2 Zungo
3 Ajua
4 Esum Buku Wa-Ya
5 Gelewenwe
6 Jolly Mensah
7 Philistine

Your Olatunji opportunity at Soundological can be found HERE or HERE.


Anonymous said...

Aaaaaaahhh, this is so good. Many thanks and take care,


ish said...

Just another reason why Cheeba and Soundological Investimigations are made of 100% awesome.

Thanks so much, buddy!

Anonymous said...

mmmm looks good, thanks!

cheeba said...

You're very welcome Aljazz and Sawanotsuru! Glad you enjoy!

As for you mr. ish, well... monkey see, monkey do!

E-mile said...

Cheeba, I have only much recenter work of OLATUNJI & Co, very interesting personel (Lateef, Terry..)sometime this week, this gets a spin. And Ish is right!
peace, E-mile

Oracle said...

WoW! Any problems with a link at the Portal? Gonna have some fun checking these archives. :O

cheeba said...

Absolutely not Oracle! Added you to my blogroll already and gonna have fun checking your archives too!

If you're used to crate diggin' you might like to check the INDEX by cover as a quick way to peruse the past.

PS, you got good peoples at your spot, too - KL from NYC for example!

flageolette said...



E-mile said...

and that time came sooner than I expected.... exXxciting, eXxcellent & exXxstraordiny good groove, really catching these vibes
thanks Cheeba, me can't stop flapping me feet on the ground, like Ritchie Havens on the Woodstock "Freedom" remember that?
well, this sure hits my Pavement harder than yer previous post [:-)
peace, E-mile

free bones said...

hey there cheebs!

i haven't commented in awhile as i have severely cut back on downloading lately as ipod/computer space becomes limited. i'm trying to be a bit more selective. however, this is just too intriguing to pass up. i suppose i really don't have the self-control i claim to have.

anyway, just wanted to say thanks again for your hard work and mention again how great it is to have you back from your long break!

cheers, friend


Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this! Since i'm playing a bit of conga myself, i really enjoy this stuff.

And thanks for dropping in and leaving all these exaggerations in the comments ;=)

cheeba said...

@ E-mile, glad this one got ya groovin'! I vaguely remember the Havens moment of which you speak but it's been a loooong time since I've watched that flick. Being the anniversay and all, I should get around to having another view. It might be too depressing, though. We've come so far that being naked at a music festival gets someone tasered and arrested? Did we take the brown acid somewhere along the line?

@free bones, thanks for droppin' a line - always a treat when you can contribute to the conversation. Like ish said over on his Cockrell & Santo post, you give some of us old-timers "hope for the future"!

@porco, are you sure it was exaggeration and not sincere enthusiasm? :)

free bones said...

your body may grow old, cheeba, but as long as you have a passion for music and the joy and willingness to share it with others, you will always be young inside.

plus, without folks like you (and Ish) i never would have discovered this stuff anyway!

Baby Grandpa said...

Hey Cheeba,

Just added you to my blogroll!

Better late than never, huh? ;-)



Simon666 said...

Just realised I never thanked you for this wonderful slice of music - thanks Cheeba!

troods said...

Just looking at all the familiar and awesome commenters makes me happy. And that's before I listen to the download. Cheeba, you are giving so much to all of us music lovers out here.....these albums are treasures. Thank you so much.