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Cinema of Burkina Faso

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 1, 2009 01:27pm | Post a Comment
Sindou Peaks in Burkina Faso

Background on Burkina Faso

What is now Burkina Faso has been continuously inhabited for at least 14,000 years. The main indigenous population of this Sahelian region were the Yonyonse, who remained for thousands of years until they were displaced by the Mossi people of what is now Ghana only a thousand years ago. The Mossi established several kingdoms; the first, Tenkodogo, was founded in 1120 and ruled by Naaba. The Dogon, who'd inhabited areas in the north, left between the 15th and 16h centuries. Two more Mossi Kingdoms followed and dominated the area for about 800 years until 1896 when France invaded and established a colonial occupation. Upper Volta, as it was then known, gained independence from the French in 1960. As is the case with most post-Colonial countries, the years since have been dominated by dictatorships, wars and coups.

Street scene in Ouagadougou

Yet despite being plagued by poverty, unemployment and strife, Burkina Faso inarguably has one of West Africa's most vibrant cultures. Literature, primarily transmitted orally until collected in the 1930s, has long been a central part of Burkina Faso's culture. A strong theater tradition owing to both Burkinabé traditions and French influences has also been a major aspect of Burkinabé's cultural life. With over 60 ethnic groups, no one sort of music has yet dominated Burkina Faso's musical scene, although American and European pop are the most popular. Since 1969, Burkina Faso has been one of, if not the, dominant powers in Africa's film industry.

Prince

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 1, 2009 06:20am | Post a Comment
Prince Rogers Nelson is easily the most daring, inventive, and subversive pop star in contemporary music. He is just as much Cole Porter as he is James Brown. Using an R&B aesthetic base, he has interwoven punk rock, rock & roll, pop, jazz, blues, and new wave to carve out a sound that is American, uniquely African-American.

prince

His diverse background, varied music palette, and pop/showbiz mentality can be credprince rogers nelsonited to his Minnesota upbringing. Like Bob Dylan (also from MN), he balances spirituality and humanity with heartache and yearning. He is part spiritual leader, religious zealot, sensualist and priest of carnality. His work is visceral yet calculated, both frank and overt. This is all anchored by his genius for laying out a great tune. I mean, who princecaught the first time that "Raspberry Beret" was a tale of a person losing his virginity? With attention to detail draped in poetry and the abstract, the lyrics sound idiosyncratic and real as anything Joni Mitchell ever wrote. But songs like "Darling Nikki" expose a rawness and sexiness balanced in a tale about the love and loss found in a one night stand. So what is he about? What does it all mean?

Prince's music, story and career are so singular that many have tried to trace where this all comes from. The Minnesota link was a start; maybe it's his mixed African-American heritage. Who knows? But Prince has continued time and time again to break the mold of pop constraints, social uptight-ness, cold war hysteria, bible reading, and corporate rock greed. And through all of Prince's moods, phases, flings, mysteries and crusades, he has gotten us to wonder, follow and believe with one thing-- our own body. So where it "all comes from" is beyond us all, but where it goes is rapidly obvious -- we feel it in our bodies. There is no doubt he has moved us.  

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Dexter Gordon

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 1, 2009 06:16am | Post a Comment
dexter gordon

I recently rewatched the movie Round Midnight, for which Dexter Gordon was nominated for an round midnightAcademy Award. The story is taken from a nonfiction book on Bud Powell's life in Paris called Dance of the Infidels. In the 50s and 60s, many Americans took off to Europe. Many African Americans had extended stays because they were treated with more respect than they had been here in the USA. Like Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon also set up a base in Europe, but issuedexter gordond recordings made over there through the NYC located Blue Note label. He would also visit the states every once in a while to record. Each is recommended, including Doin' Allright,  A Swingin' Affair and One Flight Up.

Mr. Gordon finally returned to USA for good in 1976, and continued to record on a regular basis. One of the standout later recordings was made here in North Beach at the sadly long gone Keystone Corner. There's a jazz mural there now. Mosaic Records put out a budget priced three disc set of all the recorded material from that residency-- well worth a listen.

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Emporer Jones

Posted by Amoebite, February 1, 2009 06:16am | Post a Comment
emporer jones

Paul Robeson
(1898-1976) was one of the towering figures of African-American art, culture, and politics in the 20th century. An All-American collegiate athlete and attorney, he becamepaul robeson a star of the dramatic and musical stage, an international concert luminary, recording artist, and the first black leading man on film. But his outspoken opposition to segregation and his support of Russia’s Communist regime made him a pariah during the Cold War ‘50s; the U.S. State Department lifted his passport for nearly a decade, until the Supreme Court overturned its action in 1958. Only near the end of his life did his singular achievements begin to be recognized without the taint of racial or political prejudice.

Robeson’s 1924 appearance in the Broadway revival of Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones launched him to stardom. He portrayed Brutus Jones, a Pullman porter turned murderer who becomes the despotic ruler of a Caribbean island. The expressionistic 1933 film production recreated that paul robesonheralded performance, and was expanded to include several musical numbers featuring Robeson’s peerless, profound bass voice. The last 15 minutes of the film is essentially a soliloquy by Jones, who, hunted by rebellious natives, is terrorized by “haints” from his past; it’s an acting tour de force.

Today, The Emperor Jones looks antique, and its liberal use of the n-word and broad racial stereotyping will make contemporary viewers cringe. But there is no denying the enduring power of Robeson’s performance. His great stature, booming voice, theatrical bravado, and magnetic presence amply demonstrate why he bestrode the theatrical and musical worlds like a colossus. A genius? Undoubtedly. (DVD: Criterion)

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Otis Redding, The Big O

Posted by Miss Ess, February 1, 2009 06:11am | Post a Comment
Otis Redding has inarguably one of the most evocative voices in all our country's history, and like so many with such enormous talent, he died too young.

otis redding

I think I first heard Otis in high school when I became obsessed with the Monterey Pop Festival, Otis' first big splash onto the pop scene. I was overwhelmed by his voice and energy during his famous performance there, including and especially a song he cowrote called "I've Been Loving You Too Long." In fact, one of my very first purchases at Amoeba quite a few years ago, and long before I ever worked here was the Reprise release of Redding's Monterey Pop set with Hendrix' on the flip side. I had never been able to find it anywhere else.


Otis came from Georgia, and he wrote and recorded for Stax/Volt, the famous Southern label. Not many people in his day were writing their own songs. Otis would write many with the legendary Steveotis redding Cropper, including "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay." Additionally, the many songs that he chose to cover were infused with a sprit and fortitude that made them all his own. Otis' career gained momentum throughout the 60s due to his incessant touring and massive talent for entertaining and moving crowds. He released a string of essential albums, including Pain in My Heart, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, Otis Blue, The Soul Album, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul and King & Queen.

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