Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bayeza (They Are Coming)

At the end of last year I was asked by a journalist to name my top five "afro" tunes of 2010. Its been a big year for Africa vinyl archeology and reissues from the likes of Hot Casa, Analog Africa, Academy Records, Soundway, Sofrito and even Matsuli Music's own foray into the field with Dick Khoza's Chapita. And then there are the afrobeat and afrofunk revivalists and new collaborators and explorers. To top it all I continue to listen to a number of old recordings that will never be reissued commercially.

After much deliberation I landed up with these six tunes that were on heavy rotation on the Matsuli Sound System.
1. Mawazo-Mwarabu - Rachid King (1976 Sonodisc)
2. Ilolo (featuring Adam Glasser) - Simphiwe Dana (2010 Album Kulture Noir)
3. Black Balloons - Syl Johnson (2010 reissue box-set Complete Mythology)
4. Bayesa - Wganda Kenya (2010 reissue compilation Quantic presents Tropical Funk Experience)
5. Skophom - The S.A. Move (2010 reissue compilation Next Stop Soweto Vol 2)
6. Je ne bois pas beaucoup - Les Ya Toupas Du Zaire (2010 reissue compilation Sofrito Tropical Discotheque)

But it was song four, Bayesa from Columbian studio band Wganda Kenya that kept bugging me. I couldn't help thinking I had heard it before and I was certain they were singing in Zulu, along the lines of "bayeza kusasa" meaning they are coming tomorrow. Wganda Kenya were Discos Fuentes’ (the pioneering Colombian label of the 60’s & 70’s) studio band and were hired to record non-latin records that encompassed influences from Africa, Martinque and Curacoa. They are probably best known for their cover of Fela Kuti’s classic track, Shakara Oloje. Russ Dewsbury first comped the track Bayesa on the Brighton Jazz Rooms album in 2008.

With a bit of digging I made the connection to at least three different versions of the same song that I am sharing with you today. The Jonas Gwangwa version from 1968 is the earliest but the version that Wganda Kenya seemed to work off comes from Assagai. Mavis Maseko and the Movers provide a more downtown Jo'burg take on the tune. I hope you enjoy the cross-polination. And all the best for 2011!


Anonymous said...

lovely music!

matt said...

Glad you enjoyed the tunes.

JeffM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JeffM said...

Hi Matt,

Please tell us more about the Assagai Zimbabwe LP.



matt said...

Jeff, more here at sister blog electricjive:
The current vinyl reissue is from what I can tell a bootleg.

Sean said...

Great post on how a song travels. Loved the Jonas Gwangwa version.

Siemon Allen said...

Great post Matt!

Gwangwa's version is one of my all time favorite tracks. I have heard a few other versions and did some digging of my own...

Johnny Dyani does an an a cappella version within the track "South Afrikan" on his 1979 album "African Bass". And then Hugh Tracey recorded it with a group of Mpondo and Sotho men led by Siganeko Nonkonyana in 1957 (Sound of Africa series, ILAM, TR 31, 1957). For a sound-clip see Smithsonian Folkways.

Thanx as always!!!