Following a weekend of typically schizophrenic UK weather, it seems fitting to introduce Andrew Ashong and his SunShowers mixtape.
The man hailing from South East London by the way of Ghana set last Summer alight with the effortlessly radiant ‘Flowers’, part of his debut release on Theo Parrish’s Sound Signature label. Parrish joined forces with Ashong on the track, with his influence accountable on the jazzy lilt of the drum parts – amongst a seductive melange of tuba bass, sugary keys and nylon acoustic guitar strings.
SunShowers is AA’s first official mix and we’re naturally very excited to be hosting it. The selection comes with a level of effort and attention to detail that really sets it apart from the pile of mixes presented to us on a daily basis. Ashong explores each track of the mix individually, giving us a fantastic insight into the depths of his record collection and musical knowledge. SunShowers travels from São Paulo and the experimental Bossa Nova of Tom Zé, through to Bobby Smith’s ode to Bahamian Independence, via the “rum punchiness” of 1970’s Dominica.
Fancy hearing Andrew Ashong playing records in the Croatian sunshine? Of course you do. He will be performing at this years Soundwave Festival taking place 18-22 July alongside DJ Shadow, Robert Glasper, Bonobo, Lapalux, Hiatus Kaiyote and more. Head here for remaining tickets.
Artist: Tom Zé
Song: Complexo de Épico
Album: Todos os Olhos, 1973
What more can I say, the man’s a don. The gentle breeze of soft Bossa Nova one moment, then BOOM… he’ll hit you in the mid-section with some wonky, loping, deeeep groove, employing an assortment of instruments such as a typewriter, saucepan and electric drill. Multi-instrumentalist & mentalist… Bananas!
Artist: Jack Bonus
Song: Ah Que Lyn
Album: Self-titled LP, 1972
Understandably loose and unhinged – Jack Bonus was from the extended family of Jerry Garcia’s Grateful Dead from San Francisco in the psychedelic sixties. Trippy… most of his stuff (on his only album) is pretty bluesy, grungy swamp-rock, but the very last track on the LP is pure Piña Colada material. Far out…
Artist: Mataya Clifford
Song: Things are Going My Way
Album: Star Fell From Heaven, 1976
Got a real soft spot for this one, such unique music, from a real one-of-a-kind artist. Ladboke Grove in the mid-seventies and Zimbabwean Pub-Rock at it’s finest. I’m not the biggest drinker, but let’s go to Mataya’s local… and I’ll have whatever he had, thanks. Undiluted optimism… no ice, no coke… (no pun intended).
Song: Plain Fighting
Album: The Dawn of Awareness, 1974
Now for some palm-wine whines with winding basslines for your botos (or nyash). The Nigerian front man here, had worked with Ginger Baker and Fela Kuti before this. I actually had the pleasure of playing with one of the guys on this track, a few years back in Ghana… and had no idea he was on this LP until recently. Such a solid groove… heavy.
Artist: Gramacks International
Album: Special Frere Soul, 1978
When the whole world was running amok with Disco Fever, these Creole brothers were preaching peace, love & unity in this crazy funk-alypso dance tune. Just a few months later they would be performing to millions at the 1979 Superbowl, serving up their musical cocktail of rum punchiness (later known as Zouk music).
Artist: Bobby Smith
Song: A New Day Dawning
Album: A Nation is Born, 1973
An ode to harmony, inspiration and freedom… and Bahamian Independence. After hosting Colombus’ arrival (and barbaric destruction) from 1492 and the piracy of Blackbeard and other vagabonds during their 300 years as a colony, with various slave revolts etc. I reckon Bobby and his fellow countrymen had plenty to celebrate – “move on up, people” indeed!
Song: Bro Weevil and the Swallow
Album: Mandrill Land, 1974
Such an amazing and criminally overlooked band. These (blood) brothers were born in Panama, raised in Brooklyn and wore their African roots proudly on their sleeves… (as well as their record sleeves). The effortlessly organic and natural groove on this one grows so gradually it actually sounds like funky serenity, tastes like exotic fruit and smells like the jungles of the equator. Wild and peaceful…
Artist: Jon Lucien
Album: Rashida 1973
I don’t know who Luella is… but I know she must be pretty ridonkulous, the way Jon’s carrying on here. But with Rashida, Esperenza and various other female topics from the tropics, this album is pretty much a very well documented catalogue of island love affairs from Tortola, Virgin Islands… the home of Jon Lucien. “I’m not a player, I just crush a lot”.
Artist: Moacir Santos
Song: What’s my Name
Album: Saudade 1974)
Hate to disappoint any 1993 G-Funk fans… but no, this isn’t the original version of a Snoop Dogg tune of the same name. It’s by a Brazilian multi-instrumentalist and composer who was 50 years old when he recorded this lovely tune. Great wisdom and maturity wrapped up in these youthful polyrhythms that speak of the sun. Such a satisfying and confident groove… masterfully delivered.
Artist: David Sanborn Band
Song: Promise Me the Moon
Album: Self-titled LP, 1977
Okay, fair enough… this prolific session sax man was generally pretty ‘safe’ and reliable, recording with everyone from Cat Stevens, David Bowie & Michael Franks… to Chaka Khan, James Brown & Eddie Palmieri. But there’s definitely something spicy and uplifting about this North American band with South American seasoning, and I love the lyrics too! Saudade…
Artist: Devadip Oneness
Song: Free as the Morning Sun
Album: Silver Dreams Golden Reality, 1973
Wow… divine musical inspiration, from Santana’s period of spiritual enlightenment. Having discovered Buddhism, he became a devotee of guru Sri Chinmoy (like Alice Coltrane & others), adopting the name Devadip. Hey, if the words and music of this blessed song are anything to go by, he was in a really nice place. Illumination.
Song: Inca Innuendo
Album: Excursion Beyond, 1980
Don’t know a lot about this U.S. based jazz-fusion studio-group on Motown. Their former writer and producer had been a prolific songwriter over the course of five decades, having written for The Stylistics, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Elvis(!?) Love the strange melody, the weird groove, and the mad gear-changes into the crazy cosmic brazilliant march of what can only be martians at work.
Album: Celebration, 1976
In my late teens, I kept hearing this (incredible) tune without knowing who it was by, assuming it was a Brazilian band of some sort, or at least a Latin American group. It turned out to be a very fine collection of top-notch jazz, funk and soul heavyweights (with vocals by Syreeta Wright & Deniece Williams) recording together under the name Karma. Joyous…
Artist: The Charlie Rouse band
Song: Waiting on the Corner
Album: Cinnamon Flower, 1977
Charlie was a legendary sax man having played with Dizzy, Duke, Monk and Basie. This album features one of the most recorded, and funkiest drummers of all time, Bernard Purdie… as well as Brazilian heavyweights Portinho and Dom Salvador (who also composed half of the LP). This relentless groove extends all the way from New York to Rio.
Artist: Bill Summers
Song: Brazilian Skies
Album: Feel The Heat, 1977
As a member of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, this master percussionist/ethnomusicologist had a ridiculous arsenal of tools with which to weave his polyrhythmic magic; focusing on African instruments, and creating soundscapes that served as love letters to the motherland. This track, from his debut LP sees him flying high in beautiful Brazilian Skies.
Artist:Jackie and Roy
Song: Don’t be Blue
Album: East of Suez, 1980
This married couple had been a vocal duo since the 40s, and even had their own TV show. Most of their music was pretty traditional, but when I saw the Sphinx & Pyramid on the album cover, I had a feeling they might be on a different flex. The Michael Franks original makes nods towards the sunshine, but this cover version is a straight up homage to the music of Brazil.
Artist: Os Mutantes
Song: Bat Macumba
Album: Tecnicolor, 1970
What more can I say… we’ve come full circle… this lot are a zany bunch. The gentle breeze of soft Bossa Nova one moment, then BOOM… they’ll hit you in the head-piece with a distorted, mischievous, Samba party, employing an assortment of psychedelics such as lysergic acid, mushrooms and mescaline. Multi-instrumentalists, sentimentalists & mentalists…
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.