Sometimes, western attempts to blend Middle Eastern styles with Jazz can be a bit suspect. Especially if, as is the case here, the album title contains the word ‘Oriental’…
Aping traditional sounds and styles needs to be respectful – and importantly, it needs to work!
In this case, I feel that both criteria are satisfied – which checks out considering that Lloyd Miller is something of an expert in the sphere of Middle Eastern music. Of course, individual cultures have produced better players, but not many will have mastered such a diverse range of styles and instruments.
The song utilises a santur, which is a kind of dulcimer/zither thing (sort of like a guitar).
It’s a hypnotic effect. To start with, the song is a cascade of eerie twangs, until the more recognisable western jazz elements such as the bass and drums enter the scene.
This track is seriously catchy – no wonder the album this is from, 1968’s Oriental Jazz, is now so sought after!
For some reason, Cape Verde hits well above its weight musically. It could be due to the diverse history and population of the islands, but it has more than one distinctive genre.
I’ve actually covered a song from this compilation before. But there’s so just many amazing tracks!
This is not part of that tradition – but it nevertheless retains a strong Cape Verdean flavour.
This particular brand of Cape Verdean funk is allegedly a result of a shipment of synthesizers washing up on a beach – seriously!
There’s a strong parallel to Cuban music, with a blend of African polyrhythms and Latin instrumentation. Although the influences are different, of course, there is more than a passing family resemblance…
The song is bass driven, with a prominent walking bass jamming along throughout. There’s some excellent guitar work too, accentuating the Latin vibe.
Vocally, the song is rowdy. Not only from his singing, which is great, but from the cacophony of backing vocalist.
The percussion is exquisitely engaging. The bongo rolls glance off the fluid rhythms of the drum kit, in a brilliant showcase of frenetic Cape Verdean style.
The song was released in 1977 on Nos Bida, but re-released by Analog Africa on Space Echo – The Mystery Behind the Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed! in 2016.
DJ Marfox is the undisputed pioneer of a particular style of music emanating from Lisbon. Often called the “ghetto sound of Lisbon”, the music is popular in the city’s poorer estates, combining sounds from Portuguese speaking countries in Africa such as Angola and Cape Verde with Western bass music.
DJ Marfox has so much credit for the genre that subsequent DJs have taken the -fox suffix as a mark of respect. There were other names in the short history of the sound – but there’s no denying the importance of Marfox.
“Tarraxo Everyday” is very catchy by the sometimes chaotic conventions of the genre. Often, batida songs have extremely busy polyrhythms, with no obvious melodic hook.
The drums here still have a definite clatter, but resolve into a pleasant bounce with a sunny tropical vibe.
The main melody is a dreamy synth arpeggio, twinkling with ethereal serenity. The sense of the space created by the juxtaposition of this treble laden, darting sound and the laidback bassline works fantastically.
The track was released in 2016 on the Chapa Quente E.P., on the Principe label. The Principe label has been the driving force for the recognition of the genre outside of its Lisbon heartlands.