Listen to FEVER by Jingo.
After two posts with no drums to speak of, the rhythm comes back in full force today. Fever is one of the heaviest tracks I know, a perfect fusion of James Brown and Fela [/african music cliche]. But it's a miracle I'm able to post it for you. Check out how the song was discovered:
In 1994, in an electrical shop that's now closed down, I found a copy of the single Fever by Ishmael Jingo. I had tried to find him on two previous visits to Africa and was unsuccessful. In 1998, I spent three weeks looking for him. I was told by people who said they had played with him that I should go to Mombasa. I finally found his village and his family, saw the garage where he had recorded the track, and met the bass player from the band, who gave me the photo of Jingo that features on the album. He granted me licence to use it.The guy talking is Duncan Brooker, and the album he put out is a compilation called "Afro-Rock" [ed: apparently it's also now been put on the Last King Of Scotland soundtrack]. Fever is the opening track. I love the sound of the drum kit on this. It's probably something to do with the compression, but it sounds so hydraulic. From the massive break that opens the track to the way the musicians find space in the basic pattern to create all sorts of syncopations and polyrhythms and funk moments, you know these guys were huge James Brown fans. And we know this is the case, because one of the band's extant claims to fame is, get this, almost meeting James Brown:
For East Africans, their only real-life encounter with James Brown in person came in the late 1970s, and that too only at a distance, when the singer had a brief stopover at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and there to meet him in transit were the legendary nightclub band Gloria Africana with the late Ishmael Jingo, who had planned to pull off a surprise reception with a cover of one of Brown's songs.Excellent. Do hit the link for this one, and have a good weekend!
"It was at the old airport; we played his timeless hit I Got You (I Feel Good). Alas, James Brown could not leave the plane, but he stepped out and waved," remembers Ali Kache, a Nairobi jazz musician who played with the band. The band was thrilled but desperately disappointed too as they had of course hoped to meet him in person.
That fleeting moment hence stands as East Africa's only real-life contact with James Brown, though the song played by the Nairobi group on that day is today the soundtrack for a Guinness Malt commercial on Kenya television.
[Note: I'm deleting the hyperlink that's usually here ("LISTEN") so it doesn't duplicate in the little player on the right. You can still download from the link at the top of this post.]
Photo: Street people (3).