The King's Musicians: Royalist Music from Uganda

Various Artists

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The King's Musicians: Royalist Music from Uganda Review

by Chris Nickson

The kings (known as Kabakas) of Uganda made music an important part of their kingdom and palaces. And there was a huge variety of music, as this disc easily illustrates. The kings kept a pair of xylophone ensembles, a flute band, harpists, and lyre players, in addition to drummers -- whose job was to praise the sovereign -- and dancers. Tracks like "Royal Drum Beat and Praise Shout" give an indication of what's to come. Of course, the royal house fell in 1966, and the music that accompanied it was suppressed. Interestingly, the last king's son, Mutebi, returned to Uganda in 1987, and was welcomed by the old musicians who'd been quiet for 20 years. That reunion is captured here, making an interesting postscript to this curious little diversion into Ugandan history -- which is excellently annotated in the booklet.

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