East African Music - African Radio

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Doug Paterson's Music Projects...

My third CD release with the Stern's label is a compilation of Tanzania's Western Jazz Band. In some ways, to me, they were kind of a mysterious group. They had several large hits in songs like Rosa, Vigelegele, and Helena and they had 45 rpm singles and an album that were manufactured in France and sold in Africa and Europe. But I never read anything about them in the East African papers and as I returned to Kenya in the 80s they were silent (but for their greatest hits compilations). Even their name was strange to me: Why would a Tanzanian group use an English name and what was its significance? I thought maybe it was supposed to say something about their style -- perhaps Western = Modern? WRONG! It turns out the original members of this group were all from western Tanganyika. When this group formed in 1959, there was an area called Western Province. The group actually formed in Dar es Salaam on Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast

It was interesting to learn that this was one of the last bands in the country to form as a regional association. That is, they were a kind of voluntary membership club, a "dancing club" no less with a band. They collected dues, rented halls, put on performances. Most bands after independence were sponsored by a state owned business, cooperative society, or a private business.

The new compilation is called Songs of Happiness, Poison & Uluation, a title reflecting the fabulous Swahili lyrics of the songs. I had great fun transcribing and translating these lyrics. As a friend of mine remarked, these are like country-western songs in the States: Lot's of misbehaving, disrespect, hardship; yet, plenty of love, some fun, and concern for others as well. There is plenty to love musically, as well, in this CD. In their saboso style of Tanzanian rumba, electric guitars are prominant but there is an amazing rhythmic flow to the songs. Over surging congas, the guitars have some great rhythmic mixes with the sax coming in on top as dessert.

This release is the third in a series of collaborations between Stern's Music and Nairobi's AI Records.

More information on this release and music samples are available on the Stern's website from the Tradewind link.

Doug Paterson

STCD3052 Western Jazz Band

Western Jazz Band

Songs of Happiness, Poison & Ululation

Stern's CD3052





East African Music - African Radio

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To contact Douglas Paterson, send email to DPaterson@EastAfricanMusic.com.

Last updated 3 October, 2011.

Copyright 1996-2011 Douglas B. Paterson, All Rights Reserved.