Following recent media interest in post-Castro Cuba, it’s worth revisiting Wim Wenders’ 1999 film:
Video and music by my old rival Marabi O’Hare … more feral than viral … nice liquorice stick …
London is the Place for Me 2: Calypso & Kwela, Highlife & Jazz from Young Black London in the 1950s and early 60s (Honest Jons Records)
Thomas Mabeleta’s ‘Zulu Piano Medley’ is one of the few surviving recordings of Marabi, a keyboard style popular in the shebeens. The influence of jazz, ragtime and blues is obvious, but its roots lie deep in African tradition. Early Marabi musicians were part of an underground musical culture, so were typically not recorded. As with early jazz in the US, this music confronted establishment culture. Nonetheless, the lilting melodies and catchy rhythms of Marabi found their way into the popular dance music of Southern Africa.
Despite many attempts to vilify left-wing politics by equating jazz with liberal ‘democratic’ culture and free-market capitalism, it requred little digging beneath the surface of specious propaganda to reveal a different set of affinities.
‘Before the war it was not unusual to hear people of many sorts, (particularly of the so-called professional or intellectual type) express their admiration for the successes of fascism or for the personalities of their leaders. Perhaps, they said, fascism has really brought a new idea to the world. They have found a new solution for the social crisis that dominates our time. Success always has a certain fascination.
We musicians are apt to consider our art as something a little apart from life and its crises. But on the other hand music is extremely sensitive to all social trends.’ (Hanns Eisler, 1944) … Read more of Eisler’s lecture
Trump welcomed to Scotland
‘Yes We Have No Bananas’ was one of the songs banned in Nazi Germany, but its US presentation here begs just as many questions about attitudes to ‘the other’; attitudes that in certain circumstances readily migrate from entertainment to violence:
Fascism is authoritarian and intolerant, promoted in ‘peacetime’ through control by the State and its media. It is not a phenomenon of the distant past. For political reasons, the music of Ewan MacColl, Paul McCartney, The Cure, Bob Marley, 10cc and others has been banned by the BBC, for example … more
Sidney Bechet is said to have been a model for the character of saxophonist and bandleader Pablo, in Hermann Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf (1927).
And as he spoke and conjured up a cigarette from his waistcoat pocket and offered it to me, he was suddenly Mozart no longer. It was my friend Pablo looking warmly at me out of his dark exotic eyes and as like the man who had taught me to play chess with the little figures as a twin.
“Pablo!” I cried with a convulsive start. “Pablo, where are we?”
“We are in my Magic Theater,” he said with a smile […]
He gave us each a little opium to smoke, and sitting motionless with open eyes we all three lived through the scenes that he suggested to us while Maria trembled with delight. As I felt a little unwell after this, Pablo laid me on the bed and gave me some drops, and while I lay with closed eyes I felt the fleeting breath of a kiss on each eyelid. I took the kiss as though I believed it came from Maria, but I knew very well it came from him.
Bechet appeared in the German film Einbrecher (1930), which perhaps echoes some of Hesse’s vision of jazz clubs of the period.
Can anyone shed light on the social context and reception of this South African radio show?