Thursday, March 30, 2017

Babatunde Olatunji - 1961 - Zungo!

Babatunde Olatunji 

01. Masque Dance
02. Zungo
03. Ajua
04. Esum Buku Wa-Ya
05. Gelewenke
06. Jolly Mensah
07. Philistine

Babatunde Olatunji - Vocals, Drums [African]
Yusef Lateef - Winds
Clark Terry - Trumpet
Edward Bailey - Trumpet
James Nottingham - Trumpet
George Duvivier - Bass
Will Lee - Bass
Al Schackman - Guitar
Rudy Collins - Drums [Trap]
Beans Whitley - Drums [African]
James "Chief" Bey - Drums [African]
Montigo Joe - Drums [African]
Taiwo Duval - Drums [African]
Ray Barretto - Congas, Timbales

Adele Potter
Adunni Pearson
Afuavi Derby
Aquasiba Derby
Babalola Jones
Chinyelu Ajuluchuku
Christine Chapman
Oyinka Parker
Ernie Truesdale
Helena Walquer
Mario Timmons
Melvin Edwards
Popoola Moore

Originally released by Columbia in 1961, they reissued it only once more in 1973 (as ACS-8434). It looks like most of the tracks have appeared on compilations over the years but a lot of those are budget and fly-by-night labels or else borderline bootlegs. When it comes to the album itself, it's fairly easy to find affordable copies ($15-$20 or less) of both the '61 and '73 printings in good condition online. This particular one's been in my possession for plenty years but I've taken pretty good care of it (i.e., rarely played it out) so it's fairly free of snaps, crackles 'n' pops, except for some unavoidable noise near the end of the last track (i.e., the tune that was played out on those rare occasions it found its way into my bag).

If you need to brush up on the bio of Babatunde then I suggest starting with his wiki page, AllAboutJazz and a more-informative-than-usual piece on since they also offer multiple links for further reading. There's also a good post over at the excellent The Basement Rug blog with Drums of Passion and a couple other Olatunji LPs.

Slipcue review:
Although there's some nice, powerful drumming on here, the overall feel of this album may seem a bit top-heavy and monochromatic... It's that "...his percussion, brass, woodwinds, and choir" subheader on the album jacket that'll tip you off. Olatunji and his Nigerian percussion ensemble plays host to a cast of thousands that includes jazzmen such as Ray Barretto, Yusef Lateef and Clark Terry -- great players all, though their contributions are largely buried in the mix. Not a bad album, by any means, though is doesn't quite match the intensity of the earlier Drums Of Passion album. Worth checking out, though... it's very mellow, meditative, easy on the ears and entrancing.

Dusty Groove review:
One of Olatunji's best LPs, and a record that breaks out of his usual straight hard percussion stuff by adding some jazz players like Yusef Lateef, Clark Terry, and George Duvivier. There's also some singers augmenting the ensemble, but they drop out in parts, and the percussion and jazz take over. Olatunji's joined by Ray Barretto and Montego Joe on congas, and the whole thing grooves like one of Art Blakey's jazz/percussion experiments. 7 tracks: "Masque Dance", "Zungo", "Ajua", "Esum Buku Wa-Ya", "Gelewenwe", "Jolly Mensah" and "Philistine"