Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wild Magnolias going to Melpomene....

I really meant to post this on Fat Tuesday but chances were about 50/50 that someone else would do the same and finding my copy of the 45 turned out to be harder than I expected, so ya'll got "Funky Soul" by David Batiste and The Gladiators instead.

Anyway, there's absolutely no reason not to post this song out of Carnival season. It's one of the funkiest records ever cut. In fact ya'll should go just ahead and get up out of your seats right now. The controls are set for the ground zero of funk.

And that's not just BS. I'm one of those who think the roots of funk as we know it today lie in the coming together of two very different African musical traditions in New Orleans. On the one hand the sound of Central Africa as distilled in Cuba, poly-vocal and poly-rhythmic. And on the other, the Islamic influenced melismatic uni-vocal tradition of the Sub-Saharan peoples who represented a large proportion of those brought to the continental U.S. as slaves.

In essence, the blues met the rumba in Congo Square.

And although not often mentioned, I think there was a third influence at work. That of Haitian/Voodoun drumming, which originates from a singular African culture and is in it's way different than that of Cuban Santeria or Palo Monte [the religious sources of the secular rumba].

Ya see, I think it's possible that the local Voudoun drum influence is what gives a distinct flavor to recordings made in New Orleans even when the musicians were consciously trying to copy elements of Afro-Cuban music. The "pseudo-mambo" recordings made in New Orleans, Southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and by extension Chicago during the 1950s are of far greater importance than many realize. I'm always shocked when I see them dismissed as "primitive" or "novelties" when to my mind they are the keynotes of a very important musical fusion in it's infancy.

I hadn't really thought about it before, but yeah, this tune is "pseudo-mambo" to the core.

Hope ya'll enjoy....I'm including Part 2, not only is it close to a minute longer than Part 1, but towards the end there's this telling moment when Willie Tee and the band drop out and all that's left is the pure essence of the thing.


  1. Surprised how many quality blogs cover New Orleans music but I shouldn't be surprised, having lived there for 5 years in the 80's.
    Trying my hand at a music blog, giving props tonight to Bobby Marachan
    You're officially on my blog roll!

  2. Many thanks,good stuff.Are there any Haitian recordings you would recommend? The "primitive" thing I can understand in the sense of the immediate physical impact this stuff has to make you shake & shimmy but the musicianship is massively skilled & sophisticated.all the best.

  3. This is amazingly good. Thanks!

  4. 1001songs...Thanks for stopping by. That's very flattering to be included amongst the "quality blogs".

    Johnnyq....In this case, the charge of "primitivism" is in comparison to genuine Afro-Cuban music, which is incredibly complex. As Chano Pozo said about working with Dizzy Gillespie's band, "I can play their music, but they can't play mine."

    The Haitian influence I refer to is actually quite old. In 1809 a massive influx of Haitian refugees effectively doubled the population of New Orleans. There as a time when a large proportion of the people in the city spoken a french creole patois not unlike that spoken in Haiti today.

    Of particular interest to me at the moment are these recent, well made, clips of Societe Linto in Miami.

    The link is not to a specific clip, it's to the home page of the guy who posts them. There are many, all of which are pretty interesting, most of which include fabulous drumming.

    Tiger...thanks for commenting, and you're most welcome.

  5. This is wild, Ana! Thanks very much. Marie

  6. Excellent song. I'm glad you posted both parts. I love the phrase "The blues met the rumba in Congo Square." That would be a great idea for a compilation or book title. Thank you!!

  7. Jem...I'm not that original. And I have a lousy memory. No doubt I lifted the phrase from someone else.

  8. This is a *brilliant* post ana. Thank you.