Global Music Column – january

Various: London Is the Place for Me: The Music of Young Black London, Vols 7 & 8

Creole languages and culture can be loosely defined as those that have been mixed: a natural blending of influences over time to create a new hybridity. Much of this mixing has historically been a consequence of colonial oppression, and a response to unwanted and newfound circumstances. Yet through the trauma come new forms of resilience and creativity: these are the building blocks of Honest Jon’s London Is the Place for Me compilations.

Charting the recordings of West Indians and west Africans in London following the first waves of immigration to Britain after the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948, the compilations provide a tantalising glimpse into changing musical cultures: Trinidadian steel bands performing at carnival, patois poetry and jazz-inflected calypso. Volume 7 has a diverse mix of styles from calypso to Jamaican mento, west African palm-wine music and South American joropo. Part ethnomusicography and part mixtape, the disc’s 20 tracks make for a joyous listening experience, encompassing vocalist Louise Bennett’s patios Christmas song Bongo Man,the plaintive jazz stylings of Mississippi-born Marie Bryant, and the propulsive, clattering percussiveness of the Nigerian Union Rhythm Group.

Read the column in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 17/01/20]