What more could there possibly be to say about Fela Kuti? For many of us, Kuti’s music has been the primary entry point to the incredibly fertile terrain of hybrid African music. But aside from the obvious honor of having the privilege of releasing some of the first unheard Fela recordings in over twenty years, the fact that these recordings even exist in the first place is something of a marvel.
In 1984, Fela Kuti had planned to leave Nigeria to tour abroad, but was arrested and imprisoned on dubious charges of “currency trafficking,” preventing him from leaving the country. It took two years, and efforts from Amnesty International before Fela once again was able to share his music with the world. The music featured on this album was recorded the year of his release, live at the Fox Theater in Detroit.
The songs featured here, the shortest clocking in at 29 minutes and 35 seconds, aren’t among Fela’s best known compositions, though they did feature on studio albums with the Egypt 80 band. It’s in these unbridled live performances though that the material truly comes alive, complete with audience interaction, the incredible musicianship of the band, and Kuti’s inimitable vocal stylings. It’s evident that the audience as completely entranced.
Fela Kuti – Live In Detroit is a document of one of the greatest performers of the 20th Century, and we’re honored to be able to share it with you. The album will be released on Strut on May 8th on Strut Records internationally, and via our friends at Knitting Factory in the US. The Strut release will be a double CD / four vinyl / digital format.
01. JUST LIKE THAT 29.35
02. CONFUSION BREAK BONES 40.54
01. TEACHER DON'T TEACH ME NONSENSE 34.04
02. BEASTS OF NO NATION 38.49
Ebo Taylor is a towering figure in the field of African music. The fact that, well into his 70s, he continues to tour and record speaks loudly to his dedication to his craft, and to the worldwide excitement over his music. Appia Kwa Bridge will be the second new studio album of his since 2010, recorded again with Berlin's Afrobeat Academy.
On the new record, Ebo takes a personal approach, both in the subject matter, and the musical inspiration. “I wanted to go back to a highlife feeling with this album,” he explains. “The songs are very personal and it is an important part of my music to keep alive many traditional Fante songs, war chants and children’s rhymes.”
We're honored to be able to share new music with you from a man and musician of Ebo's stature. Appia Kwa Bridge will be released in April, and Mr. Taylor will be performing internationally this Spring.
Ottowa's finest, afro/jazz/cosimic/funk collective The Souljazz Orchesra are marshaling their troops for a series of North American shows this winter. This will be their first major American tour, and our first chance to see them since releasing their amazing Rising Sun album in 2010. They're going to be joined by some excellent acts on certain dates, including Zongo Junction, The Funk Ark and others. Full info on the band's site. See you at the shows!
January 21st - Ottowa, ON @ Mavericks
February 15th - Providence, RI @ Fete
February 16th - Boston, MA @ Scullers Jazz Club
February 17th - Burlington, VT @ Nectar's
February 18th - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
February 20th - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
February 21st - Washington, DC @ Rock N Roll Hotel
February 22nd - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
February 23rd - Kalamazoo, MI @ The Strutt
February 24th - Chicago, IL @ Double Door
February 25th - Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
April 21st - Ottowa, ON @ Babylon
Mulatu Astatke has had a fairly breakneck touring schedule of late, and that shows no sign of letting up too soon. This November he'll be heading south of the Equator with his band for a series of shows in Australia and New Zealand. The legendary Ethiopian composer and vibraphone player will be joined on each date by the Black Jesus Experience.
19/11/2011: Melbourne - The Arts Centre
20/11/2011: Perth - Freemantle Festival, Freemantle Town Hall
25/11/2011: Auckland -The Power Station
02/12/2011: Sydney - The Factory Theatre
It's been some time, more than eight years, since we got the Strut crew together in London for an evening of fine music and revelry. The time has come once again, and we're going to do it up in proper style! We'll be taking to the decks on the deck of the Tamesis Dock, moored at Albert Embankment, with a crew of label friends and family, and some special guests. This will our grand re-entrance into the London nightlife, so look for more events on the horizon. Come raise a glass and give summer a final hurrah to the finest sounds in disco, soul, afro-funk, and everything in between!
STRUT RECORDS BOAT PARTY
The Tamesis Boat Dock, Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TP
(between Lambeth Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge)
Sunday 25th September 2011
DJs Duncan Brooker, Toni Rossano, Christine Indigo, & special guest Bill Brewster
4.00pm to 12.00am
Tickets: £5 all night – on the door. Book online at www.ticketweb.co.uk
It's now been close to a year since we had the honor of releasing Mulatu Astatke's first solo album in decades, Mulatu Steps Ahead, but the album has stayed in heavy rotation for us ever since then. We're currently working on a new compilation featuring previously unheard material that will be sure to excite. More info on that coming soon (sorry to tease), but for now here are two clips from Astatke's recent Brazilian tour to tide you over.
One of our longest running series returns in May with an edition that digs ever deeper into the seemingly endless field of stunning West African cross pollinations of funk, jazz, rock, soul, and traditional African music. The latter, in the form of Highlife and Juju, is perhaps represented here even more than on previous volumes. But of course there's plenty of heavy funk, lest you think we could ever leave that behind. Nigeria 70 - Sweet Times: Afro-Funk, Highlife & Juju from 1970s Lagos is compiled by Duncan Brooker, as always, and he's truly come up with some gems here, none of which have ever been issued outside of Nigeria. You can preview three of the tunes and plenty of the album art in the video above. Look for Nigeria 70 - Sweet Times on May 10th featuring liner notes by John Collins, author of ‘West African Pop Roots,’ out May 10th on CD, LP & digital download.
Not long ago, in a wrap up of his favorite reissues for NPR, Now Again's Egon Alapatt expressed regret that a long awaited retrospective of Ghanaian music legend and possible candidate for coolest man alive, Ebo Taylor, didn't see a 2010 release. He's right that a comprehensive collection is long overdue, but we think you'll agree that "Life Stories" is worth the wait.
We dug deep to assemble not only solo material, but also side projects like The Apagya Show Band and short-lived Taylor-led combos Assase Ase, Super Sounds Namba and The Pelikans. We're also including a real gem in the form of CK Mann's "Etui," which Taylor wrote and produced. Liner notes come courtesy of the ever knowledgeable Miles Cleret, whose Ghana Soundz compilation deserves much credit for introducing Ebo Taylor's music to an international audience. And of course you can expect rare photos and original album art.
"Life Stories" will be out April 12th, with tour dates backed by Afrobeat Academy scheduled in select (and lucky!) of the globe. We'll have some music and video footage for you soon!
It's not every day that we have the opportunity to say that we're about to release the first NEW music in a number of years from some of the world's greatest living artists. It's actually more like every six months! Kidding of course, though the opportunity to work with Mulatu Astatke and Ebo Taylor on their new albums has spoiled us a bit. Well along those lines, let us tell you how beyond thrilled we are to be releasing new material from Benin's Orchestre Poly-Rythmo.
After a year of illustrious comeback live dates including New York’s Lincoln Center, WOMAD festival and Barbican London, the band will release its first studio album in over twenty years, Cotonou Club, on Strut / Sons D’Ailleurs in March 2011.
Produced in Paris entirely on vintage analogue studio equipment, this new album refreshes Poly-Rythmo classics such as "Gbeti Madjro" (featuring Angelique Kidjo) alongside a firing selection of brand new compositions. The album also features a special bonus track, an exclusive collaboration between Poly Rythmo and Franz Ferdinand’s musicians. The mighty orchestre embark on an album launch tour in Europe during April 2011.
Get ready for some fantastic new sound from some of the best to ever do it.
The gentlemen behind London's Sofrito parties are true crate diggers par excellence, unearthing the finest in Tropical dancefloor fire. Strut is very pleased to have them in the selector's seat for their debut compilation, Sofrito: Tropical Discotheque. Made up of nearly impossible to find vintage floor fillers, brand new edits, and even an exclusive cumbia from Quantic, the music on here is guaranteed to make your winter feel like summer. Check the tracklist below, and be on the lookout for a closer look at Sofrito's amazing flyer artist Lewis Heriz, who did the artwork for the compilation as well, coming soon.
1. BANDA LOS HIJOS DE LA NINA LUZ – QUIERO AMANACER
2. LES YA TOUPAS DU ZAIRE – JE NE BOIS PAS BEAUCOUP
3. FRENTE CUMBIERO - PITCHITO
4. FAIR NICK STARS – ARRETE MAL PARLE
5. KYEREMATEN STARS – MAYE OBI DEN
6. VICTOR UWAIFO – OHUE (FRANKIE FRANCIS & SIMBAD EDIT)
7. ADOLFO ECHEVERRIA – SABROSO BACALAO
8. EL TIMBA – DESCARGA BONTEMPI
9. MIGHTY SHADOW – DAT SOCA BOAT
10. DANY PLAY – FA’WAKA
11. SAFOHENE DJENI – MAHU WO ASIE
12. TI CELESTE – POPILATION BASSE-TERRIENNE DU ABOIS
13. QUANTIC Y SU CONJUNTO LOS MITICOS DEL RITMO – CUMBIA DE MOCHILLA
14. ROARING LION – CARNIVAL LONG AGO
15. GNONNAS PEDRO – YIRI YIRI BOUM
This one is really cool. At the beginning of the year, Afrobeat Academy played a series of shows with Ebo Taylor in his home country of Ghana. Traveling with the group, Tom Bass shot some fantastic footage of the country, the performances, and of Ebo behind the scenes. The pieces with Ebo looking through old memorabilia and records is especially interesting. Hard to imagine traveling with a true legend of African music in his own country! This might be the next best thing.
Ebo Taylor could almost certainly fill a book talking about his musical history. A close friend of Fela Kuti's and fellow originator melding African music with sounds coming out of the West, Taylor has collaborated and performed with a connoisseur's dream list of African musicians, and is responsible for more than his fair share of classics. On the eve of his first internationally distributed solo album, we had a brief chat with the Ghanaian legend about his musical career and some of his favorite collaborators. Look for more video footage coming soon, and make sure to catch Love And Death, recorded with Berlin's Afrobeat Academy, this October.
There's clearly a ground swell happening around African music right now. If you had told us fifteen years ago that not only would musicians like Tony Allen and Mulatu Astatke be performing to enthusiastic crowds worldwide, but that we would be fortunate enough to release brand new material from them on Strut, we might not have believed you. But somehow that seems to be the way it has worked out, and it is with pleasure that we announce that Ghana's Ebo Taylor is joining the ranks of legendary African musicians releasing new material with Strut. Love And Death (his first international solo release) was recorded with the German outfit Afrobeat Academy, a Berlin-based collective featuring members of Poets Of Rhythm, Kabu Kabu (Jimi Tenor collaborators) and Ghanaian legends Marijata. It's an incredible recording; evidence that Taylor is still smouldering, and we're honored to present it to you. Love And Death will be out this Fall, with Taylor hitting the road with Afrobeat Academy towards the end of the year.
Mulatu Astatke is a busy man. We've always known this, but after speaking with him recently, we realized that he has even more on the horizon than we were aware of. He recently spoke with our own Quinton Scott about his upcoming film soundtrack, opera (!), and education center. Kind of makes us feel like a bunch of slackers... Head to Okayafrica to read the full interview.
Some pretty big news for you, dear fans of African music. Okayplayer has launched a sister site called Okayafrica, dedicated to the latest in African music & culture. It's a pretty exciting development, and says a lot about the cultural renaissance going on in Africa right now. What's more, we here at Strut will be a regular contributor to the site, bringing you a look at the music we're feeling, interviews with artists, DJ charts & much more. To kick things off we decided to get together a list of favorite African tunes (new and old) that we associate with summer. We had a lot of fun putting it together, and are looking forward to sharing more music with you.