Nov 24, 2009

Sabu - Palo Congo

barabara sounds sez:
Sabu leads a thundering Afro-Cuban percussion session, with the great Arsenio Rodriguez among some equally impressive backing musicians. High spots in this set are Aggo Elegua and the outstanding title track, both channeling the Santaria ritual. If you're looking for more typical latin sounds, then Tribilin Cantore could be the one: Arsenio's fluid guitar lines set out a blueprint for a generation of Zairean/Congolese grooves. Laid down in 1957, the original Blue Note release was in mono; this rip is from the stereo CD reissue. Whichever way you hear it, this is powerful music.

One of the most unique sessions ever cut for Blue Note — an album of very traditional Afro-Cuban jamming, led by percussionist Sabu Martinez! The music on the album's comprised mostly of percussion -- plus some occasional guitar, bass, and vocals shouted by Sabu, and group members that include Arsenio Rodriguez, Ray Romero, and Willie Capo. The whole thing's incredibly haunting — and about as different from the average Blue Note hardbop set as you could get! Titles include "Simba", "Aggo Elgua", "Tribilin Cantore", "Asabache", and "Billumba-Palo Congo".

The emotional kinship between the world of this recording and the world of jazz seems so strong at times that the distance between the worlds seems no wider than the pavement of West Fifty-Fourth Street which separates the Museum of Primitive Art from the Museum of Modern Art. Yet the step from Afro-Cuban music to jazz is a long step, for the European elements of jazz are always in the foreground, while here the latin elements of "latin" music are often imperceptible. It is mostly Africa that we hear in this recording: some rituals dedicated to African Gods, a good deal of singing and chanting in African antiphonal style, and all the instruments, whether obviously African like the quinto, a Cuban version of the slit signal drum, or as apparently European as guitar and bass, played like their African proto-types in African musical tradition. Still, the kinship is there to hear, for Afro-Cuban music shares with jazz the intense motor excitement, the rhythmic fluidity that Andre Hodeir calls vital drive, and the striving for ecstatic communion which supplies much of the motive force.