This is a story in music, a story told against the ever-insistent and always persuasive rhythms of the drums, the ever-throbbing drums. It is the tale of a day in the life of a small, native village, tucked away in some remote and inaccessible region of the African continent or South America. Starting at sunrise and ending with the first light of the new day, through the wild excitement of a safari into the always dangerous and forbidding jungle.
As conceived and conducted by Louis Martinez, who as "Sabu" is considered one of the great bongo drummers of the modern era (a reputation he gets a chance to uphold and expand via his startling bongo and timpani work on this album), this musical tour de force for percussion instruments (four congo drums and timbales in addition to bongo and timpani are used) is much more than a mere percussion exercise. The skillful use of women's voices as a musical Greek chorus, and the introduction of modern instruments such as the saxaphone, trombone, oboe, vibes, and bass viol to carry melody, indicate the depth and planning that have gone into this unique and enlightening musical experience. There is a persuasive quality about the music recorded herein that creates an unusual rapport between the music and the listener. In the music performed here there is a sprinkling of three cultures: the African, as represented by the percussive instrumentation, the Latin American via the female voices, and contemporary American through the reeds and horns.
Each musical selection is complete in itself. Each one states a theme, expands it, then reaches a peak of fury and excitement, sometimes ending at the climax, and occasionally returning to the original exposition. But through all the music, underneath the melodic passages, the women's chants and cries, throb the ever-present, all-pervading sounds of the drums on this musical picture of a jungle safari with "Sabu."
Recorded at Webster Hall, June 13, 1957 and in RCA Victor Studio No. 3 on June 6, 1957.
Conducted by Louis Martinez.
Produced and directed by Bob Rolontz.
© 1997 Hip Wax