Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Jean Bosco Mwenda, Jean-Bosco Mwenda|
Mwenda Wa Bayeke-Africa
Genre: World Music
The best-known (and perhaps finest) African guitarist of his generation, Jean-Bosco Mwenda spearheaded the development of a new kind of popular town music characterized by syncopated, finger-style acoustic guitar. In his h... more »
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The best-known (and perhaps finest) African guitarist of his generation, Jean-Bosco Mwenda spearheaded the development of a new kind of popular town music characterized by syncopated, finger-style acoustic guitar. In his heyday -- 1952-62 -- he recorded some 150 titles which sold all over Africa. These records eventually came to the attention of American musicians like Pete Seeger, who brought Mwenda to Newport; Happy Traum, who transcribed "Masanga" (heard here) in one of his popular guitar tutorials; and saxophonist Marion Brown, who arranged several of his songs for jazz ensemble. This is the first full-length release by Mwenda to be issued in the U.S.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To cut to the chase, this is one of the most beautiful CDs I have ever heard. I stumbled onto Jean-Bosco Mwenda while listening to a CD titled "The Secret Museum of Mankind", which included a single track by this new-to-me musician. A search of amazon.com and other sources revealed "Mwenda Wa Bayeke" to be the only complete disc currently available. Upon first hearing the CD, I was stunned--transfixed, really--as I listened to track after magical track by this unbelievable talent. That initial response has not faded after many, many subsequent hearings. Recorded near the end of a long career, the voice is not as fresh and even as during his heyday (1950s and 60s). Nonetheless, the vocal quality--at turns joyous, earthy, and not-quite-melancholy--is still hauntingly beautiful, and the solo guitar is literally mesmerizing. My only "complaint" is that the final track is performed as a solo guitar instrumental. While incredibly beautiful (with an intentionally discordant lower string that is reminiscent of some of the Bach lute suites), I would rather have heard how Mwenda would have sung the piece. But that's like complaining that the tenth best sunset you ever saw was not quite as awesome as the first nine. The liner notes reveal that Mwenda was a dominant recording artist in Africa a few decades back, with around 150 titles to his credit. The customer reviewer who said that this disc changed his life got it right; it is a treasure that cannot leave you unaffected. Each playing causes me to have a somewhat empty feeling, knowing that I missed out on so much of what Mwenda had to say, musically, during his life. [Since the recording, Mwenda was tragically killed in a car wreck.] Let's hope that some enterprising music producer will seek out some of the older LPs, remaster them to CD, and make them available to us hungry fans."
Zachary Strider McGregor-Dorsey | Superior, CO | 11/09/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You know, I generally like my music to be sung in English, not being a big international music fan, but Mwenda Wa Bayeke is really the exception. I have never heard such rich music produced by one man and a guitar. For anyone who likes folk, it is a must. Before this album, I thought I had heard pretty much every way one can play an acoustic guitar, but the style developed by the African guitarists is both original and masterful, a fairly unusual combination. Mwenda is known as "the Elvis of Africa" (becuase of his popularity, not his style), and he lives up to every expectation."
Zachary Strider McGregor-Dorsey | 06/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Get this album. Get the "Secret Museum of Mankind - East Africa" collection of archival stuff, and listen to the Jean Bosco Mwenda track on that (worth the price alone, but the rest of the disk is great, too). Get the "Origins of Guitar Music" compilation of Hugh Tracey field tapes from the 1950s (same deal). Then try to figure why none of this guy's other stuff is available. His voice got rawer and more soulful with age, but his guitar was sheer genius from the start. My wife and kids are fans, too, and they don't always share my love of African music."