It’s a beautiful sunny day here on Whidbey Island. Things are drying out nicely . . . but blog obsession has set in and so here I am.
Cheeku, compiler of the excellently funky African Serenades Vol. 28 and the charmingly vintage and very grooving African Serenades Vol. 29 (see Matsuli’s archive), observes that he “might quibble about some CDs left off (none of the syliphone discotheque reissues or the bembeya retrospective?)” from my 150 Great & Groovy Albums list. He is, of course, only too right — those albums are not on my list and they are very fine albums. However, I can only comment that, over the years, I have also enjoyed immensely works by Azumah, Bonga, Captain Yaba, Djeli Moussa Diawara, Nahawa Doumba, Eyuphuro, Ghorwane, Abdullah Ibrahim, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, Antoine Moundanda, Pamelo Mounk’a, Kosmos Moutouari, Tshala Muana, Nyboma, Remmy Ongala, Geoffrey Oryema, Super Rail Band, and Philip Tabane & Malombo — to name a few other notable African musicians who did not appear on the list. Even the mighty Ali Farka Toure is not on it for reasons that I simply cannot explain this morning!
The situation gets even worse when you think about other genres with great artists mysteriously missing. From the world of reggae, there’s no Aswad, no Burning Spear, no Culture, no Heptones (except on Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Arkology compilation), no Gregory Isaacs, no Prince Far-I, no U-Roy. These are not insignificant names! We’re not finished listing the omissions when soul artists like James Brown(!!!), Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Little Willie John, Curtis Mayfield, Parliament, Otis Redding, and Percy Sledge are not to be found on my list. Yet, you can bet that I’ve spent many happy hours listening to their music.
From the world of Latin music, I’ve had serious affections for the works of Joe Arroyo, Bobby Matos, Charlie Palmieri, Pérez Prado (it’s true), Tito Puente, Toto la Momposina, and Mongo Santamaría. Jazz has given me Dizzy Gillespie, Jerry Gonzalez, Lionel Hampton, Yusef Lateef, John Lytle, David Murray, Leon Parker, Don Pullen, Pharoah Sanders, Cal Tjader, and Steve Turre in addition to the very few jazz albums that made it on to the list.
Among blues artists, I’ve frequently found musical companionship from the likes of Paul Butterfield, Olu Dara, Willie Dixon, Slim Harpo, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Milton, and Big Joe Turner. While I’m in a completist mood, let me mention three rock artists not on the list who have also tickled my auditory nerve endings pleasurably on a repeated basis: The Doors (sad but true), Jefferson Airplane, and Van Morrison.
And we haven’t even considered smaller and more unclassifiable genres that include musicians like Sussan Deyhim, Jon Hassell, Stephen Kent, Steve Roach, and Trance Mission. Then there’s India and Pakistan. What? No Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or the Tabla Tarang — Melody on Drums of Pandit Kamalesh Maitra? And where’s the new sound of the Maghreb with Natacha Atlas, Hamid Baroudi, and Gnawa Diffusion?
You get the idea. There’s a lot of music out there and I’ve hardly scratched the surface.
The obvious thing to do is to expand the list to 250 albums, but even then there’d be some of my personal musical greats who didn’t get on. This is the problem with making lists, you never finish — and someone always gets left out!!!