Bembeya Jazz National

The Syliphone Years

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In 1958 Guinea gained its independence from 60 years of French colonial rule. One of the first things that President Toure did was to help restore his country's historical pride and heritage through an authentic renaissance of the arts, particularly music.

Bembeya Jazz was one of the first regional bands to become national exponents of the modernization of traditional indigenous African music. In time, they became legendary innovators of modern African music known all over the world. This double-CD set contains their best singles from the 1960s and '70s plus some rare music previously unavailable in any format. The Cuban influence is evident on some of the tracks, but Bembeya Jazz blended this with indigenous styles to create a unique take all their own. All of this music was recorded on Guinea's legendary Syliphone label. The sound quality is quite good given that some of the tracks are vinyl transfers since the 45 rpm master tapes have been lost. In 2001, Metoura Traore, a pioneering musician of the same period of these recordings, said, "Guinean music was the avant-garde of African music...it was like the lighthouse to music in Africa. And they said it couldn't be done -- to modernize African music." This set is a jewel in the crown in African music.

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