Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The man with the biggest crate

When I got to see Africando on a depressingly wet London evening in May this year I was dissappointed that the DJ set from Ibrahim Sylla didn't materialise. I didn't recognise the DJ as Sylla and he had no-showed for a talk scheduled earlier in the day at the ICA. Nothing wrong with the musical selections from the stand-in DJ or the performance from Africando except for some minor sound issues. Personally I was very happy to see and hear the legendary Amadou Ballake and Sekouba Bambino Diabate.

But the next best thing to an Ibrahim Sylla DJ set is the new Cuban Pearls series. This follows the African Pearls series of Sylla-licensed material and has been conceptualised by Sylla himself from his vast collection of more than 6000 Cuban LPs. "The one who had the biggest trunk was the one the ladies looked up to, the cat that got the cream! We used to love showing off all our musical discoveries! We organised a whip round, each of us contributing 500 CFA francs, and we made up trunks of vinyl that were to set people's dancing feet alight in the various social clubs and dancehalls called Havana or NEJ. Where did they come from? These trunks had crossed the ocean and came to our shores thanks to African sailors hired on American cargo ships. It started in the forties. We were always trying to out-do each other, every man seeking to preserve the exclusivity of a rare treasure by removing the labels from the records..." Ibrahim Sylla in conversation with E. Honorin

So there you have it. Four volumes of two CDs each selected by the man with the biggest trunk - Ibrahim Sylla. Vol 1 and Vol 2 out now with 3 and 4 to follow shortly. (When you order them from Sterns let them know you heard about it here :-))

Africando at the Coronet in London as part of the Annual African Music Festival. Sekouba Bambino Diabate and Amadou Ballake on vocal duties.

1 comment:

gomad361 said...

A big crate but a poor memory - many of the recording (or release)dates are completely wrong. See Cristobal Diaz-Ayala's online Encyclopedic Discography of Cuban Music, Vol. 2, 1925-1960 for the correct info.