WORLD MUSIC RIFFS / John Jones of The Oyster Band on the Joburg All-Stars

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
THE MAIN reason for picking 'Grooving Jive Number 1' is Noise Khanyile, a violinist and vocalist who can also play guitar and mandolin. The stuff the band plays is half traditional Zulu music, half township jive: an acoustic mixture of violin, African women chanting, sax breaks and dance beats provided by Western drums. There's electric guitar and bass too, but the acoustic sounds dominate. These incredible shouting voices start it off - 'Hey, this is Grooving Jive Number 1' - then the violin screams and seems to laugh at you. It's so explosive. It grabs you the way dance music should.

It's political - you don't have to be told these people are living on the edge. Khanyile makes his own bows, and his strings are all worn out, but he plays in this incredibly vibrant way. He has some wild electric effects, lots of reverb which give the violin space, and he uses a sawing effect to get the tune out, like in traditional American and English folk fiddle playing. Africans use the same intervals as we do in Europe, thirds and fourths, but they also use a lot of fifths, like in jazz. And rhythmically, we have an idea of the on-beat and the off-beat, but in Africa the two are interchangeable.

All the instruments come in at some time, over the massive bass drum beat. It's only a half-tempo song, unlike a lot of the fast Zairean music, but it snowballs till they're all playing at once, and after eight minutes, it falls apart. There's no climax, the groove is too important. This is true folk rock.

'Grooving Jive Number 1' is on 'The Art of Noise' (ORB CD045). Full Womad details below

(Photograph omitted)