Saturday, September 15, 2007


Marimbas marimbas I love marimbas! Which are like giant xylophones! Masanga are a 7-piece group, who except for a drummer, play all sorts of marimbas - enormous bass ones, baritone, and various smaller ones, creating a veritable marimba orchestra. Are there really people who think this is "weird" and only want to hear guitars and pianos? This stuff is rock'n'roll - three-chord tunes pounded out with mad energy, making me want to jump and dance like a silly person.

Masanga are lead by a music prof from my alma mater Cal State Northridge (go Matadors!) and the band is composed of his students. Don't worry, this isn't bland "World Music" - said band leader Ric Alviso studied in Zimbabwe and brings an authentic African energy and excitement to the music. "Skokiana" is a version of an old Zimbabwean tune that, as "Skokkian," was a big American hit in the '50s.


Strangely enough, only days before I discovered this group in live performance and bought their album, I had heard a remix of Louis Armstrong's version of "Skokkian" by DJ Dale B. It's a great bit of Ursula 1000-ish lounge-tronica, which you can listen to or download here.


DJHDD said...

I too lurve marimba's - I have been searching for a vinyl only release of Amampondo’s self titled record, now over 20 years old. Never recreated on CD this was my first lesson (yes I studied Ethnomusicology at UNI) on the sounds of a large marimba band, although this had drums, chants & homemade instruments. Nowadays they are a much smaller unit then when they first started due to Zulu & ANC politics.

Read about them here

Watch them in performance here

Also one of the reasons so many South African bands have marimba is due to this project.

Follow through to hear the band & buy the CD.

Mr Fab said...


NICE. I love South African music. Thanks for this, will deffo check this out, and keep an eye out for 'em next time I hit the African vinyl section at Amoeba.