Tanzania’s charismatic Gogo innovator Msafiri Zawose breaks open the circle of tradition, the flock of songs and tunes, beats and melodies his fellow musicians have relied on for generations. Jubilant voices dance over a broad palette of timbres like the buzzy bowed zeze. Swaying polyrhythms combine in tranced-out jams, only to shift into delicate filigree of malimba (thumb piano) and vocal counterpoint. It speaks to Msafiri’s simultaneous deep engagement with and playful reframing of tradition.
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This song is about one of the most archaic symbiosis between human mankind and the earth. The peasants humble plea to his lands, ready to work with his hands and in his sweat. I started with piano and voice building the structure and atmosphere of the song. Mauro came up with the arrangement, based on electronic grooves, sampling different objects to recreate the sound of working the land. Natalie gave trumpet parts, lightening up the mood of the plea in an almost New Orleans marching band spirit. Msafiri wrote a poem in his language.
Iyavela is a Xhosa translation, meaning 'recurring' or 'it appears'. The theme came to me during a walk in the Table Mountain National Park, as a reminder of how the only reason any of the quality of life we experience as humans, during our short-lived lives on earth, is because of the abundant perfection of our natural environment. How essential, and fundamentally worth protecting this is.
Na Tetea is an original protest song, played in a serious but fun way (African Protest syle). In the song, we declare our commitment to defend our cause for a better planet by shouting (I Defend) Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
Tutafanyaje (What Shall We Do) flits between lyrical harmonies and rapped verses. Drawing from the popular Gogo sound that mixes traditional African instruments with multiple vocalists, the contagious sound swiftly expresses the glory of nature sitting at the cost of people and their shifting perspectives for our planet's security. The complimentary vocalists include Msafiri Zawose, Pendo John, DPrince Casmir and Alex Lobulu from Voice of Maasai, the cross-cultural collaboration that bridges gaps for talent in Maasailand and beyond.
In 2014 I met Msafiri Zawose a multi-talented musician. I had the chance to remix one of his tracks Mambo Mambo. And I had the chance to collaborate with a legendary artist who comes from a family of legends. In this project I left my comfort zone, took some cowbells pitch to make melodies with them and kalimba sounds blended with some Asian and African melodies plus percussion sounds to give you a sweet sensation of East African music.
ONE WORLD is a musical journey across our planet which explores the connections between cultures, landscapes and nature. Starting in the ocean, the cradle of primordial life, flutes play duets with the songs of whales. We proceed to the beach, lulled by the sound of waves, while a sparkling layer of violin textures frolics over them. Traveling inland, we reach the jungle, and begin to hear the voices of animals and humanity. The voices carry a powerful message: We have one world, and although we are all different, we must work together.
This song is a call to reconnect with nature and regreen the planet. The lyrics speak of dire environmental issues, but the music will make you want to dance. There's no need to sit around being sad about the world - grab a shovel, plant a seed and groove! The roots of the composition are Msafiri Zawose and Anna Kattoa's impassioned vocals. The song then travelled back and forth between Tanzania and Canada as more instruments were added, growing slowly and steadily like a tree.
A song that calling for embracing our Mother Earth, listen to her needs and protect her from distraction.
Wanyama Wetu is about the value and wisdom of animals, protecting them from harm until the time comes when people understand that all creatures deserve equal respect. The music was recorded between Tanzania and Canada. Msafiri Zawose began the composition with a hip hop style drumbeat and bassline, zeze (Tanzanian violin/harp) and vocals in Swahili. He invited Suleman Abdallah (Meja Drum) to record a Swahili rap verse as well. Nic Lagasse added more vocals and instrumentation building up the intensity for the second half of the song.
It is a song of hope written a day of extreme despair. Inspired by a hummingbird that seemed to be lifeless and when I approached and touched it, it took flight. It seemed to need someone's warmth or simply rested from his flight.
It's a song that talks about freedom, about that free spirit that we need to blossom and fulfill. Inspired by the Carnation of the air, a plant that grows suspended in the air and that blooms anywhere, without soil.