Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cyril Jackson - Afro Drums




Cyril Jackson - Afro Drums

This is one of my favorite records. I bought a cassette of it from the local record guy in Stuart back when I was in college, and listened to it for years. I was never really sure how "authentic" it was. Were these genuine field recordings of African tribes? Was it an "exotica" album recorded in Hollywood by studio musicians based on what they thought African music might sound like from seeing Tarzan movies? Or somewhere in between? It doesn't really matter, because the music is what I would HOPE African tribal percussion would sound like. It's primal, ecstatic and rhythmically complex. It's impossible to listen to this stuff passively--it's just too intense, to energetic. And, needless to say, if you're looking for percussion beats to sample, this is a great source record.

I finally bought it on LP. In fact, it was one of the first things I purchased off of ebay. Now I could finally read the liner notes, which indicate that these were studio recordings, but based pretty accurately on The Real Thing. I also learned that I was correct in my suspicion that most of these musical styles are not directly from Africa, but from the Caribean and Latin America--all except the first track, in fact:

Didrenouo (Ivory Coast)
Shango (Trinidad)
Banda (Haiti)
Guacuango (Cuba)
Tempena De Mim (Brazil)
Mambo Ricci (Puerto Rico)
Road March (Trinidad)
Rumba Abierta (Cuba)
Merengue (Dominica)
Conga (Afro-Cuban)
Jungla (Cuba)

My favorites: "Didrenouo" is an intense opener. You probably can't make out the liner notes from the photo above, but it refers to this song as a war chant, and goes on to say the rhythms and chants build until "you are there" as two tribes prepare for war! "Shango" is one of my favorite tracks, with a chant over the pounding drums that gets stuck in my head. "Tempena De Mim" is more of a "song," with a great female vocal.

When I was a kid--a baby, really--my Grampa worked in the Bahamas, building radar stations for Pan Am, so we went to stay in The Bahamas sometimes. I don't really have any memory of these trips (I do remember spending a lot of time in the Miami and Palm Beach airports, and I did go back a couple times when I was older), but I think the music (the ever-present steel drum bands and calypso singers) I heard down there may have made a lasting impression on me, and whenever I hear Caribean music, it feels a little familiar. "Road March" especially makes me think of the Bahamas. For that matter, it makes me think of hot afternoons in Florida, when the humidity is overwhelming. Great, catchy tune.

The centerpiece of the album would have to be Rumba Abierta, the most intensely polyrhythmic piece here. There's just an amazingly complex interaction going on on this one. Your ears can really get lost in it.

8 Comments:

Blogger Simon666 said...

Great album, thanks a lot.

5/16/2009 9:10 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

thanks,it'll be a blast listening to this as my parents are from the Caribean(Haiti)

really appreciated!!

5/16/2009 6:38 PM  
Blogger Chris Oliver said...

Thanks for the love,guys!

5/17/2009 11:30 AM  
Blogger Simon666 said...

No problems Chris ...
I posted six recommendations on my blog the other day, then my friend Reza added six of his own (including this one) ... it's over here .
regards,
Simon

5/17/2009 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone upload this to mediafire?

2/07/2011 3:02 PM  
Blogger Dr. B said...

Awesome Chris! This brings the funk with some wonk!

10/21/2013 12:17 AM  
Blogger Chris Oliver said...

Thanks! Glad to know the link is still working.

10/26/2013 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris, I love this album too, especially certain tracks. My sister had the LP, which is long-gone. There is something odd about the package, tho, and I can't quite read the details on LP back cover image that you posted. Would you be able to post a higher resolution image of the back that is more readable?

What is odd - and I'm going more by memory since I can't read the jacket - is I don't recall any artist or performer credits other than Cyril Jackson. Obviously, there are many more performers on the recordings than just him. And in fact, the tracks are different styles performed by very different ensembles. Strange that no one is credited except Cyril Jackson - or am I wrong about that?

I'd love to find out who the other performers are, especially the pianist on Mambo Ricci and (I think it's) Rumba Abierta.

Thanks!

3/29/2017 2:33 PM  

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