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Aug 23/07

Afrobeat origins

Matt Yanchyshyn @ 07:35

Ignace De SouzaOne of my favourite Benn loxo readers, one who is responsible for introducing me to a lot of the music on this site, recently turned me on to Ignace De Souza.

Ignace De Souza is one of the those forgotten greats of West African music who was very influencial in his day. To give you an idea, in the liner notes of an Original Music compilation of his music, John Storm Robers credits De Souza’s track, Ole, as being the first afrobeat recording.

Originally from Benin, De Souza got his first big start when he got a gig playing sax with Alfa Jazz, who John Collins credits as being the first professional dance band in Benin. In later years De Souza moved to Ghana and played with several groups before forming his own. By the mid-60s, De Souza and Black Santiagos had become quite popular and began introducing Congo music to Ghana.

While a lot of the music on this Original Music comp sound pretty much like what you’d expect from the time and place they were recorded, there are several stand-out tracks. Two come to mind: Asaw Fofor for a 1960s chase scene and Anyenko for laid-back, “protofunk” summer music.

Unfortunately, great things never last. Does anyone know why the Black Santiagos split? Either way, in 1970 De Souza left Ghana before eventually settling in Lagos where he played with the house band at the Ritz Hotel. (I can’t help but associated this last bit with an image of Murph and the Murphtones at a Holiday Inn in the film The Blues Brothers.)

ps- you can still buy this album at Stern’s.

Ignace De Souza – Asaw Fofor
Ignace De Souza – Anyenko
Ignace De Souza – Ole

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7 Responses to “Afrobeat origins”

  1. Thanks – Great post!

    Which reader? My guess is voodofunk Frank or analog africa Samy. Both are working assiduously to bring more of this wonderful Benin/Togo music to light. My favourite Black Santiago cut btw has got to be Paulina with its’ super funky sax, organ and metal bar percussion – just brilliant.

  2. Should be Michael Scott from San Francisco, he knows more about african music then Frank and myself together ;) Paulina is very good but there is one which will top it…more soon.

  3. I’m feeling Asaw Fofor! It’s got a jazzy-lounge-crime scene vibe going on. :D

  4. I watched The Blues Brothers a few too many times. It was Murph and the Magitones. “Don’t go changin’.”

  5. [...] drei ausgewählten Songs von Ignace De Souza wecken die Lust auf mehr: Afrobeat origins – via [...]

  6. Nice. What can I say. I like this stuff, I like all this stuff.

  7. john storm roberts gave the wrong date for the afrobeat tracks.

    they are actually from ’71-72 (approx).

    which does make more sense when you listen to them.

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