Saturday, 25 April 2009

Weekend musings and Kasai Masai

Usual weather forecast nonsense - on Friday, we were promised showers on Saturday. On Saturday, "Today's Weather" had changed to sunny, and the showers had vanished. This is not just the JEP or the BBC web sites, they get their weather direct from Jersey Met, who so far show a 95% success rate with "Today's weather", and about a 50% rate of suspiciously altered forecasts like that mentioned. The science of Jersey weather forcasting seems little better for "Today's weather" than going outside, looking at the sky in the distance, and seeing which way the weathervane is blowing. Surely Mr Pallot and his chums can do better than that?  Or are they after the Michael Fish Award for dodgy forecasting?

Saw Kasai Masai at the Arts Centre on Friday. Brilliant! They are a five-piece band led by Nickens Nkoso, bringing the traditional sound of remote equatorial African villages to London with a contemporary twist. The band leader, Nickens Nkoso, told us "you don't have to pay to dance. dancing is free!", and after one very courageous young lady had come down to floor level to dance in front of the band, others followed. By the end, there was standing room only at the front!

I'd have been there but (1) I have absolutely no sense of rhythm - I clap in the same time that Corporal Jones marched to in Dad's Army - out of step (2) I have a broken toe (3) there is enough horror in the world already without the sight of me pretending to dance.

The JEP mentioned it on Saturday and got it wrong; they took Kasai Masai as plural in one sentence, and as the name of the band leader in the next. The sub editor must have had an off day - again!

The music was a mixture of African beat and - at times - Jazz overtones.  If you want to see a clip of the band, click here:

A bit of blurb on the band from Nichens:

Kasai is a region in Congo which lies in the heart of the rain forest where many tribes such as the Baka still maintain their traditional lifestyles. The Maasai, just like the Baka, are another dignified tribe whose lives still centre around a nomadic existence. Kasai Masai was born in 2003 after I realised that there was still a lot more to share with audiences other than only Rumba and Soukous. Congolese music is so rich!

Before moving to Britain, all Kasai Masai musicians evolved in Africa as part of high profile local bands who toured around the world. Kawele Mutimanwa, our lead guitarist, played in Tanzania with Super Matimila.. He also played with Orchestra Virunga during his stay in Kenya. Rama Wa Mapendo, our saxophonist, and Jean Claude Mukubwa, our drummer, also played with Orchestra Virunga. In addition, in Nairobi, Rama played with Seper Mazembe and Les Wanika, while Jean Claude played with Vundumuna. Whilst in Tanzania Rama played with Atomic Jazz and Jean Claude with Les Maquis du Zaire. During a short spell in Zambia, Jean Claude drummed for Fire Family. Claude Bula, our bass player, started his career in DR Congo where he played with Las Vegas, Mizoto and Wela Wela, and later joined Choc Star and Big Star.

Most of my songs are based on traditional rhythms from different villages along the Congo River. Once my heart has connected with a particular beat, my mind starts singing back to me heartening melodies. When the music is in place I then write my own lyrics taking inspiration from ancestral story-telling passed on from one generation to another through African oral culture. This is my way of keeping our civilisation alive.


1 comment:

mike freeman said...

Re suspicious met recording
Always makes me laugh, we went on a visit to met once a while back and main event was whats that guy with the binoculars doing out on the balcony-it was explained that he was making hourly sitings of the weather!