Last Band Standing by Orchestre Les Mangelepa – coming soon!

Strut present the first ever new international studio album by one of the all-time great African big bands, Orchestre Les Mangelepa. Last Band Standing is coming 20th October 2017 and available to pre-order now! Comprising Congolese musicians who settled in Kenya, Les Mangelepa helped drive the East African evolutionary spur of one of the greatest musical artforms, African rumba, during the 1970s.

Prior to their formation, in the late 1960s, future members of Les Mangelepa were part of Baba Gaston’s band, L’Orchestre Baba Nationale, based in Lubumbashi in the Eastern Congo. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, Congolese Rumba had become the dominant musical force across Africa ad Nairobi became a magnet since PolyGram, EMI and other international companies had studios and pressing plants in the city. In 1973, Baba Gaston’s band recorded in Kenya and relocated there permanently in 1975. Evany (Kabila Kabanze) and Bwamy Malumona were the bandleaders and held a residency at the Aquarius Club in Ngara but within Baba Nationale there was unhappiness about how Baba Gaston was treating them. A breakaway faction recorded ‘Mbungu’ and ‘Kijana’ under the name Les Mangelepa as a side project and a split became inevitable. Led by the Evany and Bwamy, the majority of the members of Orchestre Baba Nationale soon quit and formed Orchestre Les Mangelepa.

Developing a regular residency in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park at the Park Inn, Mangelepa began to draw huge crowds. Their early recordings helped them to establish their authority, released on contemporary labels like Jojo and Tobina. Alongside a spectacular horn section they were known for their tight vocals and bittersweet, poetic lyrics and, during the late ‘70s, Mangelepa’s stage shows were an unsurpassed breath-taking circus. They held a wide appeal across a spectrum of Kenyans; Congolese (Lingala) music was hugely popular and Mangelepa’s Swahili lyrics used the genre and brought Kenyans together across ethnic divisions. The popular music of Kenya at that time included Benga from the shores of Lake Victoria and Chakacha from the coast; Les Mangelepa became skilful and adept songwriters, harnessing the energy from these other music styles.

The band’s fame spread across East Africa, scoring household hits in Kenya with songs like ‘Maindusa’ and ‘Embakasi’. In the late ‘70s, under George Opiyo’s management, they embarked on lengthy tours of Uganda and Malawi and returned to their long-running Nairobi residency at Garden Square. In 1982 they headed to Zimbabwe via Tanzania and Zambia and, after breaking into two factions, made several acclaimed albums including ‘Safari Ya Mangelepa’ and ‘Madina’ for PolyGram.

Their popularity began to wane during the mid-‘80s until, in the early 2000s, Tom Kazungu took over their management and began to help breathe new life into the band, recording ‘Mangelepa Millennium’. They took up new residencies at Tents Club on Mombasa Road and Simmers, right in the centre of Nairobi. In 2016, Les Mangelepa finally made it out of Africa, touring Europe including the Afrika Festival in Hertme, Netherlands. This new album, recorded by No Nation’s Guy Morley, encapsulates some of their best-loved material, re-recorded and brought up to date using the current personnel of their Nairobi Vibro residency. They represent a wonderful era of African music and justifiably warrant the title ‘Last Band Standing’.

 

New Souljazz Orchestra + Full Autumn Tour

Canada’s fastest moving and hardest working collective are back with one of their finest albums to date, ‘Under Burning Skies’, a brand new journey into tropical, soul and jazz styles. It’s out now.

Turbulent times call for strong voices and The Souljazz Orchestra’s new set packs a suitably heavy lyrical punch, with wry observations and an urge for progressive change. Musically, the band continue to push the limits, dusting off ‘80s vintage synthesizers and early drum machines for the first time, bringing lo fi disco, boogie and electro touches to their trademark horn arrangements and earthy analogue sound. The fruits are a-plenty and the group sound at their confident and versatile best from start to finish.

Opener ‘Dog Eat Dog’ powers in, lambasting the powerful and the corrupt over an infectious Afro-disco groove; ‘Lufunki’ takes the group right back to their B-Boy roots, bringing the Afro vibes to Beat Street and ‘Is Yeelyel’ delivers a killer rework of an obscure original by Somalian super-group Dur-Dur Band. The band go on exploring their passion for French Caribbean styles on the beautiful, lilting ‘Oublier Pour Un Jour’ and ‘Tambour À Deux Peaux’ and they take time for reflection on the potent instrumental title track and poignant closer ‘Aduna Jarul Naawo’, featuring the vocals of Élage Mbaye.

The release coincides with another monster tour schedule throughout the Autumn.

Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band Live at Yaam Berlin

Following this years’ storming Glastonbury performance Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band are back to perform in Europe at YAAM Berlin on 28th September.  “The Golden Voice Of Africa”, Pat Thomas performs alongside the Kwashibu Area Band curated by multi-instrumentalist Kwame Yeboah (Cat Stevens, Patrice) and saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff (Ebo Taylor, Poets of Rhythm). Tickets are available here.  

Pat Thomas released his first full career retrospective “Coming Home” on Strut last autumn.

Oté Maloya: The Birth Of Electric Maloya on Réunion Island 1975-1986

Strut present a brand new compilation documenting the groundbreaking maloya scene on Réunion Island from the mid-‘70s, as Western instrumentation joined traditional Malagasy, African and Indian acoustic instruments to spark a whole era of new fusions and creativity. Compiled by Réunionese DJ duo La Basse Tropicale, ‘Oté Maloya’ is out now on CD and LP as well as digital formats. The CD and LP versions include an extensive booklet  featuring the history of maloya by Nathalie Valentine Legros of 7 Lames Lamer.

‘Oté Maloya’ tells the story of this fertile period in Réunion Island music for the first time and features the full spectrum of maloya styles. From Caméléon’s genius to the teenage Michou’s classic ‘Maloya Ton Tisane’, Daniel Sandié’s breakbeat sleeper ‘Défoule 3e Age’ and more traditional styles from Maxime Lahope and Pierrot Vidot, this is an essential trip through a lost era of Indian Ocean blues and soul. ‘It follows up last year’s acclaimed ‘Soul Sok Séga’ release on Strut.

Strut presents a Nigerian disco anthem 12″ reissue

Shina Williams’ monster Nigerian disco anthem ‘Agboju Logun’ is out now on Strut featuring original artwork and all musicians’ credits and is fully remastered by The Carvery. The 12″ reissue pairs the rare original album version (released on Phonodisk Nigeria) with the more sparse 12” remix which surfaced later internationally on Earthworks. This is the third release on STRUT’S new Original Masters Series.

Back in 1979 when ‘Agboju Logun’ first appeared on his ‘African Dances’ LP, Williams knew well that the track was breaking new ground. “I want to show the whole wide world that Africa is alive with modern musicians to reckon with anywhere,” he stated. Now an accepted Afro disco classic of its time, ‘Agboju Logun’ did indeed bring together the cream of Nigeria’s players as a one-off supergroup in one inspired session. As a long-standing and well respected highlife musician and vocalist, Williams called in the ‘A’ list: Tunde Martins from Afro Collective played bass guitar, the brilliant Biddy Wright (player on albums by Lijadu Sisters, Blo and many more) contributed the famous synth lines and handled production, Fred Fisher was on trombone and Saliu Alabi played talking drum.

Enjoying limited success upon its release in Nigeria, ‘African Dances’ nevertheless gained some international attention when Earthworks’ Jumbo Van Renan licensed two tracks from it for an international 12” single release in 1984, remixing ‘Agboju Logun’ in a more stripped back mix for dancefloors. However, it was the period following Fela Kuti’s death in the late ‘90s that truly ignited interest in archive African grooves for a new internet generation. Strut’s first ‘Nigeria 70’ compilation featured the track in 2000 and it has been a staple in DJs’ crates ever since.

Kondi Band’s Debut Album ‘Salone,’ is out now

Kondi Band, the inspired Afro-electronic collaboration between Sierra Leonean kondi (thumb piano) player Sorie Kondi and US producer / DJ Chief Boima, who himself has Sierra Leonean roots, has announced their debut LP Salone, is out now.

The album follows the release of 2016’s Belle Wahallah EP, which spawned a #1 Spotify Viral Chart hit in the form of the track “Yeanoh (Powe Handa Blingabe),” as well as The Freetown Tapes, a free collection of Kondi’s solo work in the early 2000’s, mixed by Chief Boima.

According to Boima, the new album “forges a direct link between techno born in the black cities of the American Mid-West, where I grew up, and roots African music. Sorie Kondi may be playing an acoustic folk instrument from Sierra Leone, but he thinks about music as if he were a techno producer.”  It’s acoustic dance music that creates a sound as full and dynamic as any club track and, through Boima’s intricate production, the album subtly and skillfully integrates contemporary electronic sounds, keeping the simplicity and space in Sorie’s music.

Salone is out now on CD, 2LP, and digital formats.

The track “Titi Dem Too Service” is streaming below.

 

The Definitive Reissue of A Landmark Mulatu Album

Strut present the definitive official reissue of this landmark album in the field of African music originally released in 1972. Available now. 

Recorded in New York, Mulatu of Ethiopia arrived at a time when Astatke had begun to master the delicate fusion of styles needed to create Ethio jazz. The album represents the first fully formed document of his trademark sound. It features ‘Kulunmanqueleshi’, ‘Dewel’, and ‘Kasalefku-Hulu’, tracks that Mulatu would return to regularly on singles and in live shows, the Ethio-Latin workout ‘Chifara’ and the self-titled groover ‘Mulatu’: “I wanted to make a track for myself!”.

The vinyl version is available both as a standard 1LP format, and as a limited edition 3LP 6-panel gatefold set. The 3LP deluxe edition features the stereo album master, a pre-mix mono master and a selection of out-takes from the sessions, giving the listener rare access to the DNA of the studio process. The full original album will also be available on CD and digital formats. All formats feature a new interview with Mulatu Astatke and rare photos.

Sun Ra’s 1972 LP Discipline 27-II Re-Issued For Record Store Day 2017

Strut and Art Yard present a special release for Record Store Day 2017, the first ever official reissue of Sun Ra’s revered Discipline 27-II LP from 1972.

A product of the same sessions that would yield the legendary Space Is the Place LP, the recordings for the album took place on the 19th and 20th of October, 1972 at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, with the largest Arkestra line-up Sun Ra had yet taken into a studio session. The date was produced by Impulse! and Riverside veteran Ed Michel and, for the first time, the Arkestra was recorded in quadraphonic sound.

This first official reissue of Discipline 27-II was prepared in conjunction with Art Yard and Sun Ra LLC. The album is restored from the original master tapes and features complete original artwork and new sleeve notes by Francis Gooding.

The album will be released 22nd April 2017 in conjunction with Record Store Day.  Check the Record Store Day site for participating retailers.

New ‘Original Masters’ Full-Album Re-Issue Series Kicks Off With A Lost Nigerian Disco Funk Classic

This year sees an exciting new undertaking from the Strut camp. We’re launching ‘Original Masters,’ a series of essential original LP reissues exploring rare and under-rated African, Latin and Caribbean music classics, curated by leading collector and DJ, Duncan Brooker.

If that right there is enough to let you know that you’ll be needing each of these classic LPs, we’re offering a subscription option which guarantees a copy of each of the four 1LP Original Masters releases we have planned for 2017. Each one is a new pressing of an extremely rare crate essential, so a subscription means you’ll have some great music to look forward to!
*Note, if you’ve already pre-ordered the Joe King Kologbo album and would like to subscribe to the full series, please email bandcamp@k7.com

The first release in the Original Masters series arrives February 10th 2017, in the form of an experimental highlife / disco outing by Nigerian highlife guitarist Joe King Kologbo.

Forced to flee Nigeria when the Biafran War broke out in 1967, Kologbo spent the late 60s performing with various outfits in Ghana before returning to Lagos in 1971 and playing with Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Fela’s wider circle of musicians. By the time he recorded the ‘Sugar Daddy’ LP for the tiny Electromat label in 1980, he was one of the older musicians on the circuit.

“Since he was based in the East during his early days, he was not as well known nationally as some of the other highlife players of the time,” says Oghene Kologbo, “so it’s nice that this album is coming out again. It brings back good memories. That Range Rover on the cover – that is Fela’s!”

Joe King Kologbo’s Sugar Daddy is released 10th February 2017 in its original artwork and features new interviews with Oghene Kologbo and Sonny Akpan of The Funkees. Pre-orders are available now. An edited version of the 15-minute title track is streaming below.

Volume Two Of The Vinyl Edition Of Sun Ra’s Singles Lands In April

In the words of Sun Ra himself, Happy New Year To You! Last year saw the release of our lovingly assembled collection of Sun Ra’s legendarily rare vinyl singles (including the seasonally appropriate jam linked above). The 3CD and digital editions contained all 65 tracks, but the vinyl editions (3xLP & 10×45) were split into two volumes, each focusing on a period of Ra’s legendary career. If you’re a vinyl buyer and want the complete story, this is the conclusion you’ve been waiting for.

Sun Ra Singles – The Definitive 45s Collection Vol. 2 is released this April on 3xLP and a limited edition 10×45 box set. Vinyl for volume one went quickly, so don’t snooze! Pre-orders are available now.

Praise for Volume 1

“Beautifully packaged collection bringing together all of [Sun Ra’s] super rare 7-inch sounds. Sun Ra authority Irwin Chusid music be applauded for this huge cosmic undertaking.”
Mojo (five stars)

“A compilation can only be as good as the artist(s) within it. This is incredible… as good a collection as is possible from which to explore the development of Sun Ra’s seemingly endless universe of music. Singles is gloriously extensive, bizarre, diverse and cerebral”
Drowned In Sound

“Blasting into the cosmos and beyond as the jazz titan and his Arkestra expand upon, and create, Ra’s brand of Afro-futurusim. Space Loneliness this is not. All aboard.”
Aquarium Drunkard (Best of 2016)

Tracklistings

3LP GATEFOLD VOLUME 2

A1 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – SPACE LONELINESS
A2 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – STATE STREET
A3 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – THE BLUE SET
A4 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – BIG CITY BLUES

B1 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA featuring PAT PATRICK – A BLUE ONE
B2 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA featuring PAT PATRICK – ORBITRATION IN BLUE
B3 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – OUT THERE A MINUTE
B4 LITTLE MACK with SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – TELL HER TO COME ON HOME
B5 LITTLE MACK with SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – I’M MAKING BELIEVE

C1 SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA – THE BRIDGE
C2 SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA – ROCKET # 9
C3 SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-SOLAR-INFINITY ARKESTRA – BLUES ON PLANET MARS
C4 SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-SOLAR-INFINITY ARKESTRA – SATURN MOON
C5 SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INTERGALACTIC INFINITY ARKESTRA – JOURNEY TO SATURN
C6 SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INTERGALACTIC INFINITY ARKESTRA – ENLIGHTENMENT

D1 SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INTERGALACTIC INFINITY ARKESTRA – I’M GONNA UNMASK THE BATMAN
D2 SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INTERGALACTIC INFINITY ARKESTRA – THE PERFECT MAN
D3 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – LOVE IN OUTER SPACE
D4 SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – MAYAN TEMPLE
D5 SUN RA QUARTET – SKY BLUES

E1 SUN RA QUARTET– DISCO 3000
E2 SUN RA – ROUGH HOUSE BLUES
E3 SUN RA – COSMO-EXTENSIONS
E4 SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA – QUEST
E5 SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA – OUTER SPACE PLATEAU
E6 SUN RA ARKESTRA – SOMETIMES I’M HAPPY

F1 SUN RA ARKESTRA – NUCLEAR WAR
F2 SUN RA ARKESTRA – ON JUPITER / COSMO DRAMA
F3 SUN RA ARKESTRA – COSMO DRAMA
F4 SUN RA – I AM THE INSTRUMENT

10 x 45 SINGLES BOX SET VOLUME 2

1A SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – SPACE LONELINESS
1B SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – STATE STREET

2A SUN RA & HIS MYTH SCIENCE ARKESTRA – THE BLUE SET
2B SUN RA & HIS MYTH SCIENCE ARKESTRA – BIG CITY BLUES

3A SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA featuring PAT PATRICK – A BLUE ONE
3B SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA featuring PAT PATRICK – ORBITRATION IN BLUE

4A SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA – THE BRIDGE
4B SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA – ROCKET # 9

5A SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-SOLAR-INFINITY ARKESTRA – BLUES ON PLANET MARS
5B SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-SOLAR-INFINITY ARKESTRA – SATURN MOON

6A SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INTERGALACTIC INFINITY ARKESTRA – JOURNEY TO SATURN
6B SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INTERGALACTIC INFINITY ARKESTRA – ENLIGHTENMENT

7A SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INTERGALACTIC INFINITY ARKESTRA – I’M GONNA UNMASK THE BATMAN
7B SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INTERGALACTIC INFINITY ARKESTRA – THE PERFECT MAN

8A SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – LOVE IN OUTER SPACE
8B SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA – MAYAN TEMPLE

9A SUN RA – ROUGH HOUSE BLUES
9B SUN RA – COSMO-EXTENSIONS

10A SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA – QUEST
10B SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA – OUTER SPACE PLATEAU