8 October 2008

Lester Bowie - African Children



There was a little exchange of comments on Bowie 70s albums recently, so I thought I put up this one which has not been rereleased since it first appeared on the Horo label in 1978. That year was quite a productive one for Lester. "The 5th Power" came out on Black Saint with the same line-up and a duet with Phillip Wilson also came out on the Improvising Artists label. I haven't checked the general availability of these two, but I do have them both on vintage vinyl. I've also come across a live set at Willisau, again with the same line-up which I'll put up here a little later on, once I got a chance to listen and upload.

The facts:

Lester Bowie - trumpet
Arthur Blythe - alto sax
Amina Myers - piano, organ, vocal
Malachi Favors - bass
Phillip Wilson - drums

1. Amina (Bowie, Blythe, Myers, Favors, Wilson)
2. Captain Courageous (Lester Bowie)
3. Tricky Slicky (Bowie, Blythe, Myers, Favors, Wilson)
4. Chili MacDonald (Bowie, Blythe, Myers, Favors, Wilson)
5. For Fela (Lester Bowie)

Recorded in Rome on April 16, 1978 at Mama Dog Studio and produced by Aldo Sinesio

"Amina" is a slow, mournful, gospel-tinged piece strongly featuring Myers (as could be expected). Slow, grand and beautiful. "Captain Courageous" is a Bowie exercise in strangled trumpet(er) as we have come to know (and love) over the years. "Tricky Slicky" is a fairly straight and light-mooded jazz piece. "Chili MacDonald", again a collective piece, has a strong flavour of the Caribbean and of gospel (which is also very apparent on the Willisau set, mentioned above). Last, but not least, and my favourite on this record, "For Fela", dedicated to legendary Nigerian saxophonist, big band leader and rebel against government and international capital (dig out "ITT"), digs into deep funk with one of those organ-bass riffs that never quit. In line with African records at the time, this brew cooks for about twenty minutes. All in all, this record shows up the rootedness of Bowie in the great African-American music tradition which winds back to Africa ultimately, hence the title.

Thanks to "horse" in the very fine lossless jazz group on Usenet for posting this one. I do have my own copy, but finding a lossless digital copy saves up a lot of time and work. And a splendid copy it is. There was a technical fault with the first track, which meant it had to be digitally rerecorded, but I don't think it'll be noticeable on this upload.

BONUS. As mentioned above, this line-up made an appearance at the Willisau jazz festival in 1978. There was a little discussion on Dime about the exact date of this appearance and the consensus seems to be September 1 1978. The piece is entitled "God has smiled on me" - at the outset a gospel song with vocals by Amina Myers, but the song is all but a point of departure for extended improvisation clocking in at over 40 minutes in all. Links in comments. Thanks to "blackforest" for upping this one.


Michel Portal and more Aki Takase up next ...

35 comments:

kinabalu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
1009 said...

Wow. Never heard of this one. Thanks much!

This being on Horo, it made me remember that Atavistic just put out Sun Ra's *Secrets of the Sun* (not a Horo record, I know, but in my head I associate the two for those late 70s records). I first picked that one up at the Church & now I'm going to go out & get myself a nice new digital copy -- something I never would have done were it not for Atanase, Sotise, & the rest of you guys. Thanks from me & thanks from the labels that put out "this" music!

Slothrop said...

Thanks. This is awesome. I just spent the morning listening to the duet with Bobo Shaw and thinking about how I need to get moving on Bowie's 70s cannon. This is really exciting!

Wallofsound said...

It's new to me as well. I'm looking forward to listening. Thanks for sharing.

bomshelter slim said...

This is a magnificent album on a par with all the other 70's LB... I still have a real soft spot for the Muse's (Fast Last and Rope A Dope)

kinabalu said...

Links for bonus:

Lester Bowie Quintet - live at Willisau jazz festival, September 1, 1978

"God has smiled on me"

Mp3:

http://tinyurl.com/4z2bzg

flac:

http://tinyurl.com/4625f5

giu said...

thank you so much for the live bonus.
african children was one of my first love at first sight....
uploading it on Inconstant it is an act of love.
bravi

Tantris said...

Thanks very much for this, kinabulu. Good to see the AACM theme continuing.

1009 said...

(Pardon the interruption, but as long as we're back on Chicago & the topic is AACM not presidential politics...)

Saw Fred Anderson at the Velvet Lounge last night w/ Tim Daisy (of the Vandermark 5), Eric Glick Rieman, Josh Abrams, & for a short set featuring readings by the poet Ed Roberson. It was a great night, of course, & Fred was as dynamic as I've ever seen him the few years I've been going to the Velvet -- Daisy & Abrams set up a groove for the first piece & w/in about a minute Fred's lines were saying "Is that all you guys got? Aren't we going to go anywhere else?"

I was looking at one of the old posters on the wall (no, not the velvet one of the topless female in the back) of Fred from his Moers gig in the 70s. I looked it up & found that it had been released on the Moers label & featured George Lewis & Hamid Drank (among others). Of course this is another set that has never seen issue beyond its original vinyl appearance.

So again taking up the position of terminal requester, does anyone out there have a rip of this one? It seems like a pretty worthy session to get out.

1009 said...

Oh yeah, the set was titled *Another Place.*

1009 said...

Hamid DRAKE.

It's possible he drank, of course, as well.

sotise said...

thanks kinabalu , this is stupendous!

hideo said...

another corker!

thanks

djll said...

Fantastic post! Thanks. I used to have this LP but sadly let it go along with some other HOROs (would be great to see the Sun Ras posted!). Lester was my mentor. td

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot for this one -- i've been looking for it for quite awhile, ever since reading brent hayes edwards's wonderful article on lester bowie's time playing in fela kuti's band. it was published in a scholarly journal, transitions, but don't let that frighten you off, because it is utterly readable and quite interesting (and certainly the best article on fela out of the many of i've read). i realize most people here may not have access to academic databases, so i've uploaded it for you. enjoy.
http://www.mediafire.com/?o55tlmtajij

melamasinga said...

What's the personnel and track names for this one: Lester Bowie Quintet - live at Willisau jazz festival, September 1, 1978

Arcturus said...

thanks for posting this - it's long been my favorite Bowie recording, & there's a big ole unmoveable chunk of sumpin' embedded in the 1st side of my vinyl

but I'm really excited by the Willisau which I've never heard


& 1009, I'm jealous you got to hear Ed Roberson - his Music as Lucid Integral (think that's the title) is a wonderful book - Talisman House put out a Selected a few years ago - pretty unknown, even as poets go . . .

Greg said...

hey WOS!

Do you want an invite to universe? Let me know in these comments and ill sort out for you.

have a great weekend
greg

farosanderson said...

Thanks for this one; i look forward to hearing it.

wightdj said...

Thanks, I lost this LP 20 years ago, great to hear again.

teddywilson said...

Nice music. Thanks a lot !

gerireig said...

Humor + warmth = Lester. "The Great Pretender" always make me laugh. Thanks again for the music. Incredible!!

Anonymous said...

I found this blog by accident, and landed on a treasure! I had never heard of this one before. Thanks!

I made front and back covers (nothing extravagant), in case anyone burns the album to cd. At http://rapidshare.com/files/397791897/Lester_Bowie_-_African_Children_-_art.rar .

costanza said...

could you reupload the live bonus it would be greatly appreciated, mad respect

kinabalu said...

Hereby reuploaded:

rapidshare

Anonymous said...

I'm late, finding your rich blog, but wonder if there is a possibility you could re-up the lossless version of this album? Thanks much, for it all.

R

Anonymous said...

please, please, pretty please, let reupload this

kinabalu said...

New link for African Children:

Adrive

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this soulful music. I always like Amina Claudine Myers.

Any chance to repost the Willisau 1978 40-minute live version of 'God has smiled on me'? Would be appreciated!

dan-the-man

kinabalu said...

For sure:

Adrive

Anonymous said...

@kinabalu: Thanks a lot!
I said it before and I say it again: I like it – soulful, energetic, loose, together, all at once!
dan-the-man

DW said...

kinabalu, thanks!

albin said...

Thanks for reminding me of the existence of this lovely record

山田晶子 said...

Merci beaucoup !
I like Africa.
I like kids.
I like you.

Thanx,

Funky Fred From France

francisco santos said...

BIG THX!...