3 September 2006
SABU MARTINEZ - AFRO TEMPLE
This is up there in my top 3 lps of all time and it truly is everything it's cracked up to be.Wether you are into jazz,latin,afro,funk,hip hop or even just the breaks this has it all-one of the toughest lps ever to ignite a turn table.
Incredibly hard to find before it was re-issued this was recorded in Sweden in 1973 and was Sabu's last date as a leader before he died at 49 of an ulcer-what a tragedy.
Here's a great review from All Things Deep:
Sabu Martinez, regarded as one of the greatest percussionists in jazz history, was as known for his combustible personality as his ability to make the drums speak. Despite recording with Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie, stories about Martinez's various entanglements with women and musicians tend to overshadow his early solo albums, which are often grouped in the lounge/exotica category. He made sure to rectify that situation with Afro Temple, his final album. Recorded after Sabu had moved to Sweden, Afro Temple was originally designed to showcase the proficiency of his drum students. Instead of a teaching tool, Sabu left us with an outrageously creative record, one that has earned cult status over the years.
Consisting of nine short tracks, Temple wastes no time in announcing its intention to present drumming as a way to celebrate life. "My Cristina," "Para ti, Tito Rodriguez" and "My Son Johnny and Me" are seemingly dedicated to relatives or close friends, and the band responds with overwhelming amounts of energy. The title cut, perhaps the most famous song here, places a wailing saxophone line atop a loping bass-and-percussion base, sounding like something you'd expect to find on a rare groove compilation. The other famous sample here is "All Camels Hump," a madly rhythmic Latin jam that makes nice use of flute, giving the song a balance of the gentle and forceful until it concludes in an explosion of crashing drums. On "Wounded Knee" the rage articulated in the drums is voiced by a narrator who calls out the historical mistreatment of Native Americans, comparing the failure to abide by treaties to genocide.
Finally, "Hotel Alyssa-Soussie, Tunisia" is the most revelatory moment on the album. Piling layer upon layer of djembe, conga, bass and bongo, the band reaches a crescendo where you can hear elements of house and hip-hop, the future being predicted in 1973.
Uniting funk, jazz, and Latin music like no other album before it or since, Afro Temple is a blinding set that represents the inclusive vision of Sabu at the peak of his artistic powers. That nobody has come close to replicating its impact speaks to the clarity of his vision.
And here's some more info about the great man himself from AllMusic Guide:
Louis "Sabu" Martinez was one of the most prolific conga players in the history of Afro-Cuban music. In addition to his own albums, Martinez recorded with such influential jazz musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Buddy de Franco, J.J. Johnson, Louis Bellson, Art Farmer, and Art Blakey, and jazz vocalists including Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis Jr. Emigrating to Sweden in 1967, he continued to apply his highly melodic rhythms to a lengthy list of recordings by top-notch Swedish performers.
Played by Martinez, the conga became much more than a rhythmic instrument. As he explained, "You can express yourself on the conga drum in jazz as you would on a horn. I felt it as part of the group, like any other instrument, not just as a time keeper."
A native of New York's Spanish Harlem, Martinez spent his childhood beating rhythms on tin cans on 111th Street. By the age of 11, he was performing every third night on 125th Street for 25 cents a night. He was still in his early teens when he began playing with Latin bands including those led by Marcelino Guerra and Catalino Rolon. In 1944, he spent an extended period living in Puerto Rico.
After serving a year in the military, at the age of 17, Martinez resumed his musical career as a member of mambo originator Joe Loco's Trio. Within a few months, his playing attracted the attention of jazz musicians. In 1946, he began a long association with drummer Art Blakey. Martinez and Blakey continued to periodically work together until 1959. In addition to leading the rhythm section on Blakey's groundbreaking album, Orgy in Rhythm, in 1954, he was featured on the Jazz Messengers' albums, Cu-Bop and Messages, in 1957.
Martinez continued to be a much-in-demand session player. In addition to playing traditional Latin music with the Lecuono Cuban Boys, he collaborated with Charlie Parker and Max Roach during a 13-week stint at the New York club The Three Deuces. In April, 1949, he performed with swing clarinetist Benny Goodman.
The high point of Martinez's career came in 1948 when he joined izzy Gillespie's band, following the murder of influential conga player Chano Pozo. During the nine months that he performed with the group, he played on five albums -- Dizzy, Dizzier & Dizzier, 16 Rare Performances, When Be-Bop Met the Big Band, and Diz. In return, Gillespie nicknamed Martinez "Sabu" when he noticed a resemblance to popular Indian actor, Sabu, the "Elephant Boy."
Despite his fame, Martinez struggled with heroin addiction. In the mid-'50s, he briefly left music to run a strip joint in Baltimore. Although he overcame his addiction in 1956, it took several years for him to become "psychologically free" from the grasp of the drug. Forming his own quintet, Martinez recorded three memorable albums -- the Afro-Cuban masterpiece Palo Congo in 1957, and two albums, Safari and Sorcery, in 1958, that have been described as "the wildest exotica records ever."
In 1960, Martinez collaborated with Louis Ramirez to record the history-making Latin jazz album, Jazz Espagnole. Four years later, he relocated temporarily to Puerto Rico where he performed with several bands including the Johnny Conquest Orchestra and met his future wife, Agneta. In 1967, they were married and moved to Agneta's homeland in Sweden. Martinez remained there for the rest of his life. Shortly after moving to Sweden, Martinez took a gig with Lill Lindfor's Musical Revue. This began a long involvement with Swedish musicians. In addition to sharing his knowledge of music and the conga as a teacher, he performed and recorded with such artists as Cornelius Vreeswick, Merit Hemmingson, Radiojazzgruppen, Björbobandet, the Eero Koisvistoinen Music Society, the Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination and Brass, Gugge Hedrenius' Big Band, and Ivan Oscarsson. While in Sweden, he occasionally collaborated with American musicians including Kenny Clarke, Art Farmer, and George Russell. In 1973, he formed his own band, New Burnt Sugar, and released a book of conga exercises. His final recording sessions came while working on Debbie Cameron's and Richard Boone's album, Brief Encounter, in 1978. Martinez died on January 13, 1979, of a gastric ulcer. ~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide
This is a rip from the vinyl re issue - great to see this lp has now finally made it to a cd re issue in Italy and (I think)Japan.You can also find more Sabu shares in my archives.