Miguel Sagastume y Toribia Narbaiza – Fandango

basque.jpgOn to the music of a stateless nation.

At first, this baile vasco starts off with a typically enjoyable folkdance melody featuring the pandareta, the Basque tambourine, and the regional diatonic accordion, the triki-trixa.

But it’s the beautifully jolting vocal performance by Ms. Narbaiza that’s the real stunner. Whether Columbia’s engineer, who recorded these musicians from Eibar in what seems to me to be the early 1930s, had the microphone up a little too close, or whether Ms. Narbaiza’s energy simply couldn’t be contained is something we’ll never know. The music obviously speaks for itself.

Miguel Sagastume y Toribia Narbaiza – Fandango

Technical Notes
Label: Columbia
Issue Number: A 5181
Matrix Number: C 8156-2

Kwaku Addae & His Band – Ogyama Abere

kwakuaddae.jpgHere’s a more substantial offering from Africa – West Africa to be precise.

The Zonophone label was the first to begin large-scale recording of records by and for Africans, with their classic EZ series which began in 1929, and featured primarily West African artists (they had tiptoed into these waters some years earlier with a “Zonophone Native Records” series). HMV started not soon after, beginning a massive spate of recording on the continent until the end of the 78 era. By the 1940s and 1950s, there were at least two dozen other labels producing 78s for the African populace. Thousands of historic, beautiful recordings were made in nearly every single existing country and region. The history of African music on 78rpm, as well as – of course – the music itself, is rich and fascinating. It’s some of my favorite music in my collection. Needless to say, African 78s are very difficult to find today.

This track by Kwaku Addae is sung in the Twi language, and was recorded in Nsawam, Ghana, ca. 1954-1955. It features lovely vocal harmonies, and some classic West African guitar picking.

For more information on the early history of recording in Africa, I recommend the excellent article by Paul Vernon, Savannaphone.

And if you’re interested in more early guitar music from West Africa, this CD from Heritage is also top notch, and thankfully still in print.

Kwaku Addae & His Band – Ogyama Abere

Technical Notes
Label: HMV
Issue Number: JLK.1069
Matrix Number: OAB 4203-1

Thanks to Bill Dean-Myatt!

Chant du Travail

sudan.jpgTo help get this blog up and running, I’ll occasionally post more than once a week, at least for a short while.

This is a brief, ethnographic recording from French Guinea (known by the French at that time as “Soudan”). It’s origins are unknown, except that it seems to be a 1930s French test pressing, with handwritten notes on the label. This would seem to be either a true field recording, or a dub of one – I know next to nothing about the “Archives Internationales de Musique Populaire”…

Despite being stunningly low-fi and tinny it’s still a unique document.

Anonymous-Chant du Travail

Technical Notes
Label: Archives Internationales de Musique Populaire
Catalog Number: n/a
Matrix Number: n/a

Chahadé Saadé – Samaii Hijaz Kar Kurdi

odeon1.jpgWelcome. Finally, with a few minor trepidations, I’ve started an audio blog.

It’s been my philosophy that good music is best when it is shared. Of course, nothing beats that feeling, say, when you alone break open that box from Turkey or Indonesia, place the fragile platter on the turntable, only to feel your hair stand on end when the music begins. The feeling that you’ve never heard anything like this in your life; it transports you to a place where words are irrelevant. But part of that feeling is thinking how you’d want to share that with others, to have them feel exactly the same way.

Record collectors are eccentric people. I don’t even like the term “record collector.” They’ve been parodied far too many times. Accurately, I might add. But I could not live with myself as a “collector” without at least one person I could share sounds with. So, this blog is for my friends, and for you, stranger.

For the first installment, we have a beautiful oud solo which was recorded most likely in Syria, by the Lebanese oud player Saadé ca. 1926 or so. It appears on a 10.5” record, which a number of companies preferred during the acoustic era. I’m not sure when that format/size ended for Odeon, but I doubt it was any later than the early 30s. According to reader “pm,’ this is a recording of the “kurdilihicazkar saz semai of the late 19th century Istanbul Armenian composer Tatyos Efendi.”

For over a year, I believed this recording was made in Iran, due to the matrix number (etched into the ‘dead wax’) on the record, which was indicated in a major source as being used only in Iran. However, after digging through sources in the French language, I was able to determine that this player was indeed Lebanese, and made at least one recording for Polyphon around the same time. Syria, where the recording was most likely made, was a major recording hub – musicians from across the region would travel to record there.

Chahadé Saadé – Samaii Hijaz Kar Kurdi

Technical notes
Label: Odeon
Issue Number: X35285
Matrix Number: xES 381