Friday, November 29, 2019

Africa, Music from the Nonesuch Explorer Series

by G. Jack Urso

From the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.
Africa, Music from the Nonesuch Explorer Series is a sampler from the aforementioned Nonesuch Explorer Series, released on CD September 24, 2002. This album provides a selection from each of the thirteen Explorer Series albums from Africa. Nonesuch’s Explorer Series is one of the most comprehensive catalogs of World Music with albums representing the regions of not just Africa, but also Central Asia, East Asia, India, Europe, Indonesia/South Pacific, Latin America/Caribbean, and Tibet/Kashmir. The album is available on the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.

From the late 1960s through the late 1970s, Nonesuch producers for the African albums recorded the pieces in the field, on street corners, in universities, marketplaces, cities, rural villages, along the coast, and in the deep interior. These albums provide the Western ear with a broad exposure to the wide variety of indigenous instruments and musical styles which, in many ways, still remain relatively unknown outside the Dark Continent except to those of us who appreciate the vast palate of World Music offerings. These collections became widely influential to a whole generation of Western musicians. In fact, some tracks from the Nonesuch Explorer Series were included with the Voyager Golden Record that was attached to the Voyager I spacecraft launched in 1977.

While samplers and “best of” collections are typically a mélange of sometimes aesthetically discordant tracks lacking a unifying thematic cohesiveness, Africa, Music from the Nonesuch Explorer Series manages to avoid this pitfall by focusing on primarily sub-Sharan Africa and those nations North of South Africa. From these regions come the rhythms and sounds that influenced whole genres of Western music including Jazz and Rock and Roll.

Other titles from the Nonesuch explorer series uploaded to the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel and profiled on this website include Kōhachiro Miyata: Shakuhachi – The Japanese Flute and Ghana: Ancient Ceremonies, Songs & Dance Music.
Catalog of Nonesuch Explorer Series Albums
 


Listen to the entire album at the top of this article or individual tracks by clicking on the links below.


Track list
1.            Alto Bung'o Horn (Kenya)                                                             0:42
                — from East Africa: Witchcraft & Ritual Music
2.            Nhemamusasa (Instrumental Excerpt I) (Zimbabwe)              2:38
— from Zimbabwe: Shona Mbira Music
3.            Alhamdulillaahi (Burkina Faso)                                                    3:08
— from Burkina Faso: Rhythms of Grasslands
4.            Take Me Back to Mabayi (Burundi)                                            3:47
— from Burundi: Music From the Heart of Africa
5.            Kouco Solo (Mali)                                                                           4:41
— from West Africa: Drum, Chant & Instrumental Music)
6.            Aluar Horns (Zaire Border, Uganda)                                           3:42
— from East Africa: Ceremonial & Folk Music
7.            Song with Tar (Nubia)                                                                   4:44
— from Nubia: Escalay (The Water Wheel): Oud Music
8.            Bus Conductor (Ghana)                                                                 2:24
— from Ghana: High-Life and Other Popular Music
9.            Kumakudo (Zimbabwe)                                                                 3:08
— from Zimbabwe: The Soul of Mbira: Traditions of the Shona People
10.          Marimba (Tanzania)                                                                       3:09
— from East Africa: Witchcraft & Ritual Music
11.          Djongo (Burkina Faso)                                                                   4:07
— from Burkina Faso: Savannah Rhythms
12.          Bounkam Solo (Burkina Faso)                                                      3:48
                — from West Africa: Drum, Chant & Instrumental Music
13.          Dzil Duet (Ghana)                                                                           2:31
— from Ghana: Ancient Ceremonies, Dance Music & Songs
14.          Gonje Songs (Ghana)                                                                     4:18
— from Ghana: Ancient Ceremonies, Dance Music & Songs
15.          Tipe Tizwe (Zimbabwe)                                                                 4:31
— from Zimbabwe: The Soul of Mbira: Traditions of the Shona People
16.          Rhinoceros (Amboseli National Park)                                        2:22
— from Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain & Bush