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Orchestra Makassy - JPop.com
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Orchestra Makassy

Orchestra Makassy

Orchestra Makassy


The late seventies and early eighties were an extremely creative time for Zairean groups. This period corresponded with the beginnings of Europe's interest in African music. During this time there was a continuing flow of Tanzanian musicians visiting Kenya to record and perform. The Tanzanian variety of rumba music was extremely popular and widely accessible through radio and records in Kenya. Many stellar groups and recordings emerged from the Kenyan music scene Read more on Last.fm
The late seventies and early eighties were an extremely creative time for Zairean groups. This period corresponded with the beginnings of Europe's interest in African music. During this time there was a continuing flow of Tanzanian musicians visiting Kenya to record and perform. The Tanzanian variety of rumba music was extremely popular and widely accessible through radio and records in Kenya.

Many stellar groups and recordings emerged from the Kenyan music scene, such as Orchestra Super Mazembe, Orchestra Mitimila (later Super Mitimila) and the Dar es Salaam-based Tanzanian-Zairean soukous band Orchestra Makassy, led by Kitenzogu "Mzee" Makassy. The group included some of the most famous names in 'Tanzanian music, such as Mose Se Senga aka 'Fan Fan', Remmy Ongala and Tshimanga Assossa. The group's leader, Mzee Makassy was born in the early I940s, in a remote village in East Zaire. As a teenager he played bass in college groups. In 1967 he moved to Kampala and for years played regularly at the city's international hotel.

He spent a year in Europe, mainly in ltaly. In 1975 he formed Orchestra Makassy with Ugandan and Zairean musicians in Kampala. Driven into Tanzanian exile by Idi Amin's regime the Orchestra Makassy established local status through exhaustive performing. They played six nights a week to maintain subsistence, performing their shows with sober and workmanlike persistence, be it at local dance clubs or classier hotel functions. For hotel ballroom audiences they would play mainly covers; for their general circuit, though, it was their own set of tunes. The group became one of the premier outfits in Tanzania.

They signed with Kenya's AIT Records and it was through this connection, that they came to record their album ”Agwaya”, produced by Norman Mighell, with Virgin in 1982. For Makassy this was the first time that they did not play all at once at a recording. They were not used to playing one instrument at a time, but they soon came to like it. Before that they would go into a studio, record 20 songs and do a photo session, all 'done and dusted' in two days.

In a "New Musical Express" interview in September 1982, producer Norman Mighell said: ”All these fantastic parts are being played by these guys and you can't really hear them on their records. The intention with Makassy was really to record them well... exactly what they play - only now you can hear it properly. Makassy's men didn't understand multi-tracking and their equipment was in rough shape - the guitarists couldn't get decent strings.

But it came together very well in the end." Also in 1982 Makassy released a 12" single with their hit song ”Mambo Bado” on A and ”Nakolela Cherie” on the 'B' side. In 1984 an LP was released, entitled ”Muziki Ocehestre Makassy” (Label unknown). After the Orchestra had disbanded, guitarist Mose Fan Fan used some of the songs that had been recorded in Dar es Salaam with Orchestra Makassy, on his album ”Belle Epoque”. In various comments and reviews (including the "Rough Guide") the 1982 album ”Agwaya” was said to be "- unfortunately out of print and has not yet been reissued as a CD" or "- a sweet record...lang overdue for re-release." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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