Friday, March 12, 2010

Congo Jazz: a musical expedition

Congo Jazz: Een muzikale expeditie ( Nederlands) Congo Jazz: a musical expedition ( English)

Blue Flamingo presents Hot Jazz, Congolees Rumba, Gospel, Jug Band & Exotica
Hans Koert

Last weekend Ziya Ertekin, aka Blue Flamingo, released his second album with 78rpm recordings at a concert at the Jazzkelder C5 in Rotterdam. This compilation is entitled Blue Flamingo - Congo Jazz. It contains almost two dozen 78rpm recordings in three separate mixes: Jungle Crawl, Congo Jazz and That Old Religion.

Ziya Ertekin aka Blue Flamingo ( publicity photo: Jan Van De Ven )

Let's introduce you to Ziya Ertekin. He's a young Rotterdam guy who is fascinated by 78rpm recordings, which he collects and as a DJ he shares his collection with his audience. Last year he performed at the Doctor Jazz Dag - the former half year Doctor Jazz Reunion record fair in Wageningen ( The Netherlands), where he played his records for an audience of jazz collectors. During that performance he played the original recordings available on his first album, simply entitled Blue Flamingo - 78 r.p.m. in which he made some musical trips to the roots of Latin music: Oriental Nitty Gritty - The Spanish Tinge & The French Connection and Ritmo and Blues.

Congo Jazz - Blue Flamingo ( Excel96202)

In Congo Jazz, Ziya makes three musical expeditions to some seldom, if never visited unknown musical worlds. In Congo Jazz he introduces us to the African 78rpm recordings as made by Tino Baroza, the Kaba Joseph Groupe Rythmique Ngoma or the Orchestre African Jazz. In the informative booklet Ziya explains how the music from Latin America, like the rumba and Cuban son, became a hype in Central Africa ( the Congo's and Cameroon) during the 1930s. African artists adopted this music and made their own interpretations. The guitar became a very important instrument in Central Africa and one of the artists Nicolas Kasanda Wa Mikalay aka Docteur Nico, was even labelled as le dieu de la guitare ( = The god of the guitar). Most records, selected by Ziya, are from the early 1950s.
Docteur Nico in the 1950s

The last mix, That Old Time Religion, opened a new world to me, unknown to me so far. Ziya tells about Thomas A. Dorsey, better known as the Father of Gospel Music, known from the hit Precious Lord, Take My Hand which he wrote after the death of his first wife and child during childbirth. The tune became famous by Mahalia Jackson, who sings I'm On My Way To Canaan on this mix and Elvis Presley, who made it to a hit as Take My Hand, Precious Lord. Thomas A. Dorsey, no relative of the Dorsey Brothers, who became known as band leaders in the 1930s, recorded as Georgia Tom during the 1920s. He is to be heard on this compilation in a 1930s selection of Hide Me In Thy Bosom, as released on a one-to-one glass based record made by United Recording Laborities, New York City.

Tom A. Dorsey (1899-1993)

The first mix is the one that impressed me most, as the music is more familiar to the music I collect. It is entitled Jungle Crawl and contains some 78rpm recordings from the early 1930s from a period that this kind of jungle music was popular. The origins are going back to the early New Orleans Mardi Grass parades, where the Zulus, a colourful group of exotically dressed Afro-Americans joined the parades. Ziya described these men in the informative booklet, in a chapter titled: Jungle Crawl - The Zulus of New Orleans. The music he selected is really great: well known tunes like Jungle Crawl in a version by Tiny Parham and as a Clarence Williams recording - Borneo by Frankie Trumbauer and Jungle Fever by Red Nichols and his World Famous Pennies. And what to think about a rare I'm Mister African by Leon Rene's Orchestra, a rejected Victor recording of August 1932.

When I listen to this mix I realize, that this music was originally released as dance music and still it has a lot of power in it and could grabs hold of young people who even haven't seen a Long Play record nor a 78rpm shellac record and grew up with ipods and mp3-players. I'm sure it has the power to let them dance .....

This Jungle Crawl selection, professional mixed by Ziya Ertekin, ends with a great, but to me unknown version of one of the symbols of Dixieland jazz, the Tiger Rag as recorded by Phillips' Louisville Jug Band in August 1930 - what a refreshing surprise!

This record Congo Jazz by Blue Flamingo is now available at the internet site of Excelsior Records
Hans Koert

Like David Livingstone in the nineteenth century discovered the inland of dark Africa, Ziya Ertekin, aka Blue Flamingo, introduces us to still undiscovered treasures of long gone times on vulnerable 78-rpm records. In his latest mix, Congo Jazz, he tells about the popularity of Cuban music in the centre of Africa, jungle music as critics called it years ago and about the birth of gospel music thanks to Tommy A. Dorsey. You can learn more about it in the informative booklet and on the Keep Swinging blog. If you don't want to miss it: register and I'll send you its news letter.

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