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18 Sep 2016

Mombasa “African Rhythms & Blues” 1975 + “Mombasa 2″ 1976 + “Ode To Kalahari” 1979 Jazz Funk Afro Jazz,














Mombasa “African Rhythms & Blues” 1975 + “Mombasa 2″ 1976 + “Ode To Kalahari” 1979  Spiegelei/Intercord Label Germany Jazz Funk Afro Jazz,
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Mombasa was a European band, put together by LA trombonist Lou Blackburn (1922-1990) in 1973. Their debut (recorded in 1975 in Germany and released on the rare German Spiegelei label) has got a much more righteous sound than any of Blackburn’s work of the 60s - a boldness and sense of pride that comes from its blending of percussion, acoustic bass, and soaring horn lines on trombone, trumpet, and bamboo flute .Tracks are long, and the set was recorded with the same post-colonial energy as similar work from Paris or London at the time - a really righteous groove that longs to be rediscovered. 

From original liner notes 1975: 

“ In describing the music of Mombasa which is a mixture of rhythm, jazz, folklore, blues, spirituals and worksongs, Lou Blackburn would prefer not to use the word jazz. Many people ask us, he says, how one describes our type of music. To this I can only answer that I leave it to the audience because i don`t want to give it a label, for me it is simply ours, Mombasa`s music ” 

The second album from Mombasa was possibly even better than the first! The group have really come into their own by the time of this date - mixing together jazz and African roots with a sound that’s unlike anyone else we can think of - quite unique in its approach to rhythms, sounds, and solos! The grooves aren’t really the Afro Funk you might expect - and instead, they’re based on a headier brew of bass lines and percussion, one that’s somewhere in a space between Boscoe, The Pharoahs, and Demon Fuzz - but with a sound that’s ultimately different than both. The trombone of Lou Blackburn carries the lead on most tracks - snaking out wonderfully over the grooves, with a quality that’s amazingly soulful, and which almost has him standing head to head with Fred Wesley as a 70s innovator on his instrument. Other members of the group include Doug Lucas on trumpet, Bob Reed on percussion, Alan Tatham on drums, and Don Ridgeway on electric bass - the last of whom really does a great job shaping the sound of the tunes. 

Slava (Snobb) 
Mombasa “African Rhythms & Blues” 1975 first album
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This combo took contact with German producer Manfred Schmitz with an already well- defined and rehearsed music realm that married Jazz (but don’t say that to leader Lou Blackburn), Rock, and African /Ethnic rhythms. They were quickly recorded (legend has in one day) over an 8-track studio in Cologne, but the resulting album’s sound is simply stunning, as is the anonymous artwork on the gatefold sleeve. The group is a brass- oriented quintet, with a drummer and a percussionist. Among the brass used are the trumpet, trombone, flugelhorn, bamboo flute (not a brass, I know) and a variety of African instruments. Despite naming their combo after Kenya’s second city and main sea port Mombasa, it appears that none of the musicians were of direct African origins, despite being black-skinned: leader and main songwriter Lou Blackburn is Jamaican and I’m pretty certain most of the others are American or British.
The music is an amazing amalgam that hovers between Nucleus, Santana and Osibisa, but it also rocks/funks out quite wildly. The lead-off track Nairobi (Kenya’s capital and first city) starts on a wild bass line before Blackburn’s trombone and Jefferson’s trumpet trade superb licks and solo over an outstanding rhythm. Massaï is an even longer track that resembles its predecessor, despite an insisting bass & drum ostinato, but slowly drifts towards African/Mid-Eastern ambiances. Holz is drastically different ogling more towards Far-Eastern music with the bamboo flute and the appropriate percussions: there is also a Japanese-sounding named being thanked in the credits. Actually this Coleman-penned track stands out a bit too much, and despite being fairly short (by the album standard), it tends to overstay its welcome.
Opening on the African chants of Kenia (the German spelling I guess), the flipside presents roughly the same sonic landscapes, venturing wildly into Santana-esque (Caravanserai) and Nucleus-like soundscape but keeping in mind the Osibisa (African) influence at hand. Indeed the short Makishi is filled with African chants (and the typical whistle), wild jungle rhythms and some grandiose brass lines to frame the whole thing up. The closing Shango (some African animism/voodoo deity, I believe) is again on the same canvas as the longer tracks, with Luciano’s bass shining, like it has throughout the album, but this time overdubbed and used as a lead instrument.
Released on the small and long-gone Spigelei label, Mombassa’s profile remained unfortunately low, but the the first two albums received a Cd reissue on the Sonorama label in the second half of the 00’s. Definitely one of the better ethnic jazz-rock albums ever recorded, Mombasa’s debut is simply astounding and would deserve the perfect five stars if it wasn’t for that dreary “Far-Eastern” thingie that pollute the album’s continuity…by Sean Trane….
Line-up / Musicians
Lou Blackburn Trombone, Leader
Donald Coleman Conga, Bamboo Flute, 
Charles Jefferson Trumpet, Flugelhorn, 
Gerald Luciano Bass (Electric), Percussion (African) 
Cephus McGirt Drums,
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Nairobi (7:33) 
2. Massai (8:04) 
3. Holz (4:23) 
4. Kenia (6:49) 
5. Makishi (2:36) 
6. Shango (7:48)
Mombasa  “Vol. 2″ 1976 second album
Second album from this African group based in Berlin, with a repeated title that gives right away the contents, if you’ve heard the debut album. And since you’ve heard that wonderful first oeuvre, there isn’t a shadow of a doubt you love it to death and therefore there is absolutely no chance that you’ll enjoy more of it and that’s everything the second delivers. If Lou Blackburn, the brainchild of Mombasa, is still around, the line-up is vastly different, as he’s the only remaining member left; Three new Americans (but all relocated in Europe for years) and another Jamaican (Blackburn ii also) make the new line-up. Maybe less grandiose, the sleeve artwork picture is a pretty good illustration of the music on the disc, but then again oth these first two albums are pretty much standard-exchange
Yenyeri is pretty much in the line of what the previous album had to offer: a Nucleus-type of jazz-rock over a Santana-esque rhythm with solid African influences ala Osibisa. I was very worried about Holz II, because I was afraid it would resemble the sore-thumb track of the debut, but such is not the case: even if there still some Far-Eastern ambiances, they are well-integrated with the other influences and the resulting tune is a welcome side-propos to the general soundscape of the album. Shango II is however much closer to its cousintrack on the debut album, and that’s just fine with me., even if it might sound a tad more trad-jazz, despite its breakneck speed.
Nomoly opens the flipside with a bass riff that could remind Trane’s A Love Supreme, but soon the track veers to Blackburn’s superb trombone and an un-credited electric guitarist? Clocking just under 10 minutes, Nomoly is certainly Mombasa’s best track, despite a slower improvised second half. African Hustle is a sung track that relies on a super-funky bass line and adequate trombone and trumpet bursting interventions. The closing Rahman is another funky jazz track that remains well within the sonic boundaries of the group.
Just as outstanding as its predecessor, minus the surprise, ARnB2 might even be a bit worthier because it doesn’t have a “sore thumb” track that the debut had. Definitely interesting for jazz-rock fans and most progheads should not have a problem loving it as well……
Line-up / Musicians
Doug Lucas - trumpet
Bob Reed - percussion
Alan Tatham - drums
Don Ridgeway - electric bass 
Lou Blackburn - trombone
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Yenyeri ( 6:51) 
2. Holz 2 (5:33) 
3. Shango 2 (8:42) 
4. Nomoli (9:46) 
5. African Hustle (5:31) 
6. Al Rahman (4:48)
Mombasa “Ode To Kalahari” 1979 third album

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