Anyone who has collected the best and most moving recordings of traditional African music will know the name "Zawose." Hukwe Zawose, who died in 2003, was a giant--an influential figure in post-Independence Tanzania, the leader of a traditional music movement, head of a large musical clan, and one of the most mesmerizing performers you will ever see. Playing the deep-pitched Wagogo thumb piano (ilimba or marimba), the overtone-rich string instrument called zeze (a small, bowed version and a larger plucked one), plus balafons, and drums, he also sang using techniques that instantly mark his performances as Wagogo. Hukwe recorded three classic albums Real World--Chibite in 1996, Mkuku Wa Rocho in 2000, and Assembly in 2002, a fusion album made with Michael Brook and Hukwe's final recording.
In the late spring of 2012, Hukwe's son Msafire Zawose--in every way a chip off the old block--brought his family's musical legacy to the US. Afropop caught a midnight acoustic set at Barbes in Brooklyn, and quickly arranged an interview for the program Summer Serenade. Msafiri's segment is our podcast this week:
As you listen, check out these photos of the man in action at Barbes. Msafiri has no commercial releases as yet, but he will. He's a major talent, poised to continue his father's great work by bringing this overlooked music to America. Photos by Banning Eyre, who, as you will hear, got a chance to jam with a young master--a perk of doing Afropop interviews, guitar in hand!