African Jazz

Guy Warren with Talking Drum

Art Blakey recognized the jazz potential of such master African drummers as Guy Warren and Chief Bey. While his early explorations of African rhythms and chants with Sabu Martinez are phenomenal, The African Beat (with Chief Bey, Montego Joe, Yusef Lateef, and others) is the first major, full-length marriage of African drumming and jazz. The standout is "Love, the Mystery of," a cover of Warren's tune from Themes for African Drums (covered also but without attribution by Olatunji).

A BBC disc jockey, Warren arrived from Ghana in 1955 to play with Charlie Parker. His ground-breaking tenure at New York City's African Room, which led Blakey to infuse jazz with African drums, is reflected in the great Africa Speaks -- America Answers! and Themes for African Drums LPs. Like Thurston Knudson, Warren labored to bring African drums to other continents. He was the first major artist to combine jazz with Africa's exotic themes, rhythms, and instruments, particularly the talking drum. And he was part of jazz modernist Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists, which were considered England's only worthy Latin group. Late Warren efforts include a high-life album and an appearance with Fela and Ginger Baker.

At the end of the 1960s and in the early 1970s, African jazz flourished as part of a general fascination with "all things African" among jazz and funk musicians. Cross-cultural trips by James Brown, Fela, and Mohammed Ali affirmed broad new international ties resulting from civil-rights developments, the influence of the Nation of Islam, and African-heritage productions in theater, film, and television. Dashikis replaced suits and skinny ties. If there is one entirely trend-resistant notion in jazz, however, it is that rhythm dervied from Africa makes it swing ("and if it ain't got that swing...").

Afro-Jazz LPs

7The Cannonball Adderley Quintet: Accent on Africa; Capitol ST-2987
Mulatu Astatke -- see soul jazz
6Big Black: Message to Our Ancestors; MCA/Uni 73012
7Big Black: Elements of Now!; MCA/Uni 73018
8Big Black: Lion Walk; MCA/Uni 73033
6Big Black & his Congregation: Diggin' What You're Doin'; MCA/Uni 73033; 1971
8Art Blakey & the Afro-Drum Ensemble: The African Beat; Blue Note BST-4097; 1962
6Flash Domincii & the West African Supersonics with Members of the Africana Internationals: African Jazz; Fisher/Shade FMLP-009
7Embryo & Yoruba-Dun Dun Orchester featuring Muraina Oyelami; Gema/Schneeball 1043-12; 1985 (Germany)
Kenny Graham & his Afro-Cubists (U.K., w/Guy Warren)
6Solomon Ilori & his Afro-Drum Ensemble: African High Life; Blue Note BST-84136 (w/Chief Bey, Montego Joe, Abdul-Malik)
8Shelly Manne: Daktari; Atlantic SD-8157; 1968 (w/Emil Richards)
6Hugh Masekela's Latest; MCA/Uni 73010/3010 (w/Emil Richards, Big Black, Wayne Henderson, Red Mitchell, Roy Gaines, Barney Kessel..)
5Hugh Masekela: Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz; Blue Thumb BTS-62; 1973
7Mombasa: Tathagata; Wind 002; 1980 (Germany)
7Dudu Pukwana & Spear: In the Townships; Caroline C-1504; 1973
8Johnny Rae's Afro-Jazz Septet: Herbie Mann's African Suite; United Artists UAS-5042; 1959 (reissued w/yellow-mask jacket & again later under Mann's name)
7A.K. Salim: Afro-Soul/Drum Orgy; Prestige PRST-7379; 1965 (out/free)
9Wali & the Afro-Caravan: Home Lost & Found (The Natural Sound); (Solid State SS-18065; 1970)
9Guy Warren & Red Saunders: Africa Speaks--America Answers!; Decca DL-8446; 1955
8The Guy Warren Sounds: Themes for African Drums; RCA Victor LSP-1864; 1959/1958
7Guy Warren: African Rhythms--the Exciting Soundz of Guy Warren & his Talking Drums; Decca DL-74243
Guy Warren: African Drumming; RCA (UK)
Guy Warren: Emergent Drums (UK)
Guy Warren: Third Phase (UK)
7Guy Warren of Ghana: Afro-Jazz; EMI/Columbia SCX-6340; 1969 (UK)
7Guy Warren: Native Africa [Vol. 1]; KPM 1053; 1969 (UK; production)
8Guy Warren: Native Africa [Vol. 2]; KPM 1054; 1969 (UK; production)
8Guy Warren: The African Soundz of Guy Warren of Ghana; Fiesta FLPS-1646 (high life)

Partly African-Jazz LPs

8Bilal Abdurahuram w/Rahkiah Abdurahuram, Ayyub Abdullah: African Musical Instruments--North Africa-Islamic Influence/South of the Sahara; Folkways FW-8460; 1970 (1 African-jazz piece)
8Bilal Abdurahman: Echoes of Timbuktu & Beyond in Congo Square, U.S.A.--African American Musical Roots Revisited; Folkways FC-7755; 1979 (partly jazz/out w/scat & narration)
8Cannonball Adderley: Phenix; Fantasy F-79004; 1975 (2-LP; "Hamba Nami" update)
Afro Blues Quintet Plus 1 -- see vibes
Mulatu Astatke -- see soul jazz
6Afro-Latin Soultet: Wild!; Capitol/Tower ST-5051 (Phil Moore III)
Louis Bellson: Around the World in Percussion; Roulette SR-65002 ("African Dance")
8Dizzy Gillespie: Jambo Caribe; Philips/Limelight LM-82007; 1964 ("Jambo")
6Eddie Harris: Instant Death; Atlantic SD-94771; 1972 ("Zambezi Dance")
6HARYOU Percussion Group (Luv n'Haight LHLP-012; w/Montego Joe)
8Montego Joe: Arriba! Con Montego Joe; Prestige PRST-7336; 1964 ("Dakar")
8Montego Joe: Wild & Warm; Prestige PR-7413; 1965 (mod soul jazz)
7[Oneness of] Juju: A Message from Mozambique; Strata-East SES-19735; 1973/1972 (out/drums)
8Thurston Knudson: Alibi for Drums 10"; Tempo TT-2266 (w/Danny Stewart, Sam Koki, George Worth, Milt Holland)
8Duke Lumumba: Jungle Funk; Capitol ST-284 (soul-jazz horns/Afro-jazz)
9John McFarland [Sextet]: Provocatif--9 Exotic Motifs; United Artists UAS-5053; 1959 (w/Johnny Rae; exotic jazz)
8[Babatunde Michael] Olatunji: Flaming Drums; Columbia CS-8666; 1962 (covers Guy Warren's "Love the Mystery of"; w/Montego Joe, Clark Terry; some jazz elements in other Olatunji LPs)
7Quartette Tres Bien: Boss Trés Bien; Decca DL-74547 ("Rhodesian Chant")
Quartette Tres Bien: Kilimanjaro; Decca DL-74548 ("Kilimanjaro")
6Quartette Tres Bien: Stepping Out!; Decca DL-74675 ("Watusi Warrior")
8Various: Afrodeclic; KS KSLP-02; 2002 (2-LP compilation; George Edouard Novel: "Chandernagor")
7Various: Music of the African Zulus!; Capitol of the World T-10114 (African pop/jazz)

African-Jazz 45s

8Big Black: Come On & Get It, Baby (If You Want It)/The Snakecharmer; MCA/Uni 55051 (shorter versions than on LP)

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