News & Updates

Ibrahim Ferrer / Feb 20, 1927 - Aug 6, 2005

Ibrahim Ferrer / Feb 20, 1927 - Aug 6, 2005

The much loved Cuban singer Ibrihim Ferrer rose to world-wide fame as part of Buena Vista Social Club, but not before a long career in Cuba with, among others, Los Bocucos, Beny Moré and Afro-Cuban All-Stars, with his first Cuban hit record coming in 1955. He had been an orphaned street youth singer who became a Santero, as well as a singer of sones, guarachas and boleros. In 1962 he toured Europe with Los Bocucos and met Nikita Kruschev. He continued his singing career in Cuba, largely shut off to the world. Said Ferrer: "The music got better after the...

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Frank Butler / Feb 18, 1928 - July 24, 1984

Frank Butler / Feb 18, 1928 - July 24, 1984

When a pre-fame Fela Kuti took his Koola Lobitos band to the USA in 1969, they ended up stranded in Los Angeles, working nightclubs into 1970. There they took in the Black Power movement, and the politicized perspective being away from home helped radicalize Fela, who was just another black nobody in L.A. dealing with the struggle but trying to keep moving forward. But his drummer and future musical director, Tony Allen (the man who would co-create the Afrobeat sound), took even more back to Nigeria with him. He learned how to play with looser wrists, more touching than hitting...

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Exuma / Feb 18, 1942 - Jan 15, 1997

Exuma / Feb 18, 1942 - Jan 15, 1997

Perhaps the original "freak-folk" artist, the Bahamian musician & herbalist Tony McKay (aka "Exuma") was created from a lightning bolt and raised on Cat Island before moving to NYC in the late '50s. He participated in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the mid-'60s, hanging and playing with Dylan, Hendrix, Richie Havens, Peter, Paul & Mary and others. He released his first Exuma album in 1970 and proceeded to create his unique brand of psychedelic folk/funk/island pop with his Junk Band (sometimes members of the Blues Magoos), very much rooted in junkanoo and Obeah culture while also displaying the influence...

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MIXTAPE: Paris DJs Select Great Playlist Of New Tunes

MIXTAPE: Paris DJs Select Great Playlist Of New Tunes

Our friends over at the always-tasteful Paris DJs have put up a downloadable mixtape of some of the grooviest nuggets of recent vintage for your listening pleasure. Yes, the Friends & Family Vol 1 set is your audio update on the dopest sounds of today. Their website has given coverage to so many great contemporary bands of the funk, reggae, soul, hip-hop, jazz and boogaloo scenes that it's like they want to do the work for you, keeping you up to date with the freshest arrivals. All of the tunes selected here are from late 2016 or 2017. They cover...

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Bertram Brown / Feb 17, 1950 - Sept 8, 2008

Bertram Brown / Feb 17, 1950 - Sept 8, 2008

(Clive Chin, left and Bertram Brown, center. Photo by Malcolm Allen) Jamaican producer Bertram Brown was the man behind Freedom Sounds, founded in '75 and operating into the '90s, an important reggae label from the Greenwich Farm ghetto of Kingston. The imprint put out some great music of social concerns by Prince Alla, Rod Taylor, Phillip Fraser, Horace Andy, Ranking Dread, Michael Prophet, Earl Zero and many, many others, with a special regard for neighborhood talents and singers not part of the island's mainstream. These rootsy 45s usually were with the backing of the Soul Syndicate band (often cut at...

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