Recommend Me Some Good Afro Jazz Albums, Plz

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I'm looking for stuff that is literally African jazz (Mulatu Astatke, Hugh Masekela) and other stuff that is heavily influenced by African sounds (so Herbie Hancock's Headhunters would fit here, as would Randy Weston's African Cookbook). Some fusion stuff I think would fit here (Weather Report I think? A lot of Wayne Shorter stuff...) I am keeping the criteria purposefully broad as I'm really looking for great stuff you guys would recommend more than a comprehensive list acc to strict guidelines.

Mordy, Thursday, 27 July 2017 18:52 (one year ago) Permalink

i've been enjoying Tony Allen's new one -- a tribute to Art Blakey, so it combines the Blue Note thing with an afrojazz vibe.

tylerw, Thursday, 27 July 2017 18:56 (one year ago) Permalink

Tony Allen also has a full-length album of original music coming out on Blue Note in September. It's great. In the meantime, here are some recent (2015-2017) releases...

Zem Audu, Spirits - a Nigerian saxophonist who grew up in London, then moved to NYC. Kinda afro-funk-hard bop.
Camilla George Quartet, Isang - another Nigerian saxophonist from London; album opens with a modal bop tune called "Mami Wata" and closes with an Afrobeat version of the same tune.
Sons of Kemet, Lest We Forget What We Came Here To Do - sax, tuba, two drummers. Afro-Caribbean jazz with, obviously, tons of rhythm.

grawlix (unperson), Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:01 (one year ago) Permalink


sleeve, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:02 (one year ago) Permalink

xp oh nice -- glad that allen is still out there (and sounding pretty great)

tylerw, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:03 (one year ago) Permalink

Art Blakey's Drum Suite is a very early example of African influenced jazz as well as being a class album.

calzino, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:03 (one year ago) Permalink

Art Ensemble of Chicago

Οὖτις, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:05 (one year ago) Permalink

^^^ that was my first thought but they seem maybe a little... abstracted?

sleeve, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:05 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah some of it def is, but they have a very broad and deep discography

Οὖτις, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:07 (one year ago) Permalink

The AEOC did an album called The Art Ensemble of Soweto with the Amabutho Male Chorus. I've never heard it.

grawlix (unperson), Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:09 (one year ago) Permalink

their approach is v different from, say, a band playing saxophone solos over a particular set of African rhythms (altho sometimes they do that too!) but they are definitely representative of a specific kind of intersection between American jazz and African music


Οὖτις, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:09 (one year ago) Permalink

this one got a fair amount of hype, but if you haven't heard it, it's great:

tylerw, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:11 (one year ago) Permalink

this has lots of good stuff on it:

rob, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:11 (one year ago) Permalink

Which albums in particular shakes?

Mordy, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:12 (one year ago) Permalink

Salah Ragab is great too; usually gets compared to Sun Ra, who he played with at some point, but it's pretty unique imo:

rob, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:14 (one year ago) Permalink

Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) - African Marketplace

busy bee starski (m coleman), Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:18 (one year ago) Permalink

good call on Ragab!

sleeve, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:19 (one year ago) Permalink

I have to think on it a little bit Mordy, some of the stuff is very noisy/avant-garde + tribal rhythms/percussion and then as they move into the 80s some of it becomes less harsh and a little more recognizable as "world music" (as it was understood in the 80s) but I have to listen/dig in a bit to think of what might best fit the bill here

In general they're great and I've never really heard an album I didn't like, they were v consistent in terms of quality.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:24 (one year ago) Permalink

Batsumi - Batsumi
Dollar Brand Duo - Good News From Africa
Pyramids - Lalibela
Hal Singer & Jef Gilson - Soul of Africa

Number None, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:31 (one year ago) Permalink

This is one of my all time favorite albums: Pharoah Sanders and Maleem Mahmoud Ghania, Trance of the Seven Colors. North African Gnawa music with face-ripping free jazz sax on top.

grawlix (unperson), Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:37 (one year ago) Permalink

Got to be some Yusef Lateef on here, Eastern Sounds maybe? Fucking awesome album is that.

calzino, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:38 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah I thought of that too, similar to AEOC in a lot of ways

Οὖτις, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:54 (one year ago) Permalink

I guess I'll just err on the side of listing my favorite AEOC albums and let others sort out to what extent they are African, musically speaking:

Message to Our Folks
Urban Bushmen
Go Home
People in Sorrow

Οὖτις, Thursday, 27 July 2017 19:58 (one year ago) Permalink

Pleased to already see Abdullah Ibrahim and Yusef Lateef mentioned. I knew the good people of ilm wouldn't let me down.

I would like to throw out an in-general mention of Ahmed Abdul-Malik. He is mostly known for being the bassist in Thelonious Monk's group for a while in the early 60s, but his own albums are super eclectic and definitely fit the parameters here (I mean, really: he plays oud!). This compilation is wonderful.

he doesn't need to be racist about it though. (Austin), Thursday, 27 July 2017 21:10 (one year ago) Permalink

That Tony Allen track is really good. The version of Moanin' they do is really groovy.

earlnash, Thursday, 27 July 2017 22:56 (one year ago) Permalink

the late great, Thursday, 27 July 2017 23:07 (one year ago) Permalink

I haven't really listened to this much, but the lineup is certainly interesting: Louis Moholo Octet ‎– Spirits Rejoice!

Bass – Harry Miller, Johnny Dyani
Drums – Louis Moholo
Piano – Keith Tippett
Tenor Sax – Evan Parker
Trombone – Nick Evans, Radu Malfatti
Trumpet – Kenny Wheeler

Pataphysician, Thursday, 27 July 2017 23:29 (one year ago) Permalink

Also, I enjoy the self-titled album by Ndikho Xaba And The Natives.

Pataphysician, Thursday, 27 July 2017 23:35 (one year ago) Permalink

This compilation has some good pointers: Spiritual Jazz - Esoteric, Modal And Deep Jazz From The Underground 1968-77 (

Pataphysician, Thursday, 27 July 2017 23:38 (one year ago) Permalink

no lime tangier, Friday, 28 July 2017 02:35 (one year ago) Permalink

Speaking of Dudu, this set from Capetown 1964 is kind of unbelievable

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 28 July 2017 09:22 (one year ago) Permalink

it's funny, going back to my AEOC I realize it's actually pretty difficult to pinpoint any aspect of their sound as being specifically African. There's obviously lots of attempts to *evoke* Africa what with the face paint and the percussion instrumentation and song titles and whatnot, but so much of their music is so abstract and open that I'm hard-pressed to point to anything they play that's based on actual African musical styles

so idk maybe I rescind that suggestion

Οὖτις, Friday, 28 July 2017 15:45 (one year ago) Permalink

This album is really good; I reviewed it for The Wire.

It's a two-disc set of recordings from 1959 by the Idrees Sulieman Quartet with Oscar Dennard on piano. The first disc was recorded in a radio station studio in Tangier; the second is a bootleg from a party at what is believed to be Quincy Jones' apartment.

grawlix (unperson), Friday, 28 July 2017 16:15 (one year ago) Permalink

Although my knowledge of it is not very deep, the BYG/Actuel scene seems ripe for this sort of harvest.

Grachan Moncur III's two albums for the label have been compiled onto one disc that is excellent.

Clifford Thornton's Ketchaoua is as unique as anything else he did.

And Sunny Murray's Hommage to Africa is closer to straight up free jazz, but worth a listen, I think.

Maybe someone else with more expertise in the label's output can help?

he doesn't need to be racist about it though. (Austin), Friday, 28 July 2017 17:52 (one year ago) Permalink

you are correct austin

the late great, Friday, 28 July 2017 18:23 (one year ago) Permalink

thx everyone for suggestions so far - finding tons of wonderful stuff here. it's been pretty warm recently and idk this music sounds especially good while i'm driving around sweating w/ my windows down.

Mordy, Friday, 28 July 2017 19:43 (one year ago) Permalink

People need to post more here! Here's a couple of finds recently (I haven't listened carefully to all of these yet):

Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble - Drum Dance to the Motherland
Khan Jamal Quintet - Balafon Dance (only some tracks)
Chico Freeman - Kings of Mali
The Ensemble Al-Salaam - The Sojourner

And there's also this mix of spiritual jazz, some of which is relevant:

Pataphysician, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:04 (one year ago) Permalink

^^^possibly the greatest compilation ever imo

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:08 (one year ago) Permalink

wow that looks great

sleeve, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:10 (one year ago) Permalink

I just discovered that there's a second volume!

It's unfortunately split up into separate files.

Pataphysician, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:12 (one year ago) Permalink

Oh, and with regard to the first volume, the tracklist is posted below in the comments without any time markers. Long ago, I recorded a few time markers for things I recognized (I'd likely recognize more now). But here's what I had, in case it helps to identify other stuff (key: "hour:minutes"):

Elvin Jones Love Supreme (~0:38-0:44 minutes in)
Roy Brooks and the Artistic Truth Black Survival (~4:29)
John Coltrane Om (4:51)
Pharoah Sanders: Red, Black & Green (~6:12)
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme, Pt. 1 Acknowledgment (6:34-6:35)
Pharaoh Sanders Prince of Peace (8:58-9:05)

Pataphysician, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:20 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah over 24 hours of music, over half of which I can't identify since matching up the track listings provided is m/l impossible

but it's insanely great, I dip into it all the time


Οὖτις, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:22 (one year ago) Permalink

I forgot to mention this blog that I discovered:

It has that Khan Jamal Balafon Dance album.

Pataphysician, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:24 (one year ago) Permalink

Drummer Eric Harland is leading a really hot band for two nights at the Jazz Standard next week - Walter Smith III on tenor sax, Taylor Eigsti on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass. (Both Smith and Raghavan also play in Ambrose Akinmusire's band.) I'm hoping to catch one of their sets.

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:51 (one year ago) Permalink

Oh, I should update about seeing Ambrose Akinmusire: fantastic! It was all stuff from the live album. The only weakness really is the piano player, which also struck me with the live album. He certainly fits well at times, but his soloing and accompaniment often didn't seem to gel or just seemed a little like he's fresh out of music school. Everyone else was great. Akinmusire is a really sensitive player, for lack of a better description.

Pataphysician, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 18:58 (one year ago) Permalink

ive enjoyed a lot of what i've heard from akinmusire

marcos, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 19:11 (one year ago) Permalink

Oh, I meant to post that in the Rolling Jazz thread, as it doesn't really fit in here!

Pataphysician, Wednesday, 2 August 2017 19:13 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah, my post is also in the wrong thread.

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 2 August 2017 19:49 (one year ago) Permalink

good link regardless!

sleeve, Thursday, 3 August 2017 00:27 (one year ago) Permalink

I can't believe I didn't think of this one until just now, but Cannonball Adderley's Accent On Africa is perhaps a bit campy, but still totally great.

he doesn't need to be racist about it though. (Austin), Sunday, 6 August 2017 15:55 (one year ago) Permalink

Also, surely Sun Ra has something relevant to this.

he doesn't need to be racist about it though. (Austin), Monday, 7 August 2017 02:44 (one year ago) Permalink


what is interesting about sun ra is the extent to which he is influenced by exotica and the esoteric societies of WWI era birmingham, i.e. a fake or imagined africa

the late great, Monday, 7 August 2017 02:49 (one year ago) Permalink

tbf there is a lot of stuff on this thread whose connection to africa is more thematic than musical

the late great, Monday, 7 August 2017 02:52 (one year ago) Permalink

for example: art ensemble, pharaoh sanders, khan jamal etc

i don't think erratic free jazz drumming on african drums is sufficient to establish afro jazz credentials

and i totally don't understand how coltrane fits into this, ditto sunny murray, cannonball, elvin, etc aside from song titles

i say this not to be some sort of gatekeeper for Afro jazz but just to point out that it means something specific (to me anyway) and applying it willy bully does a bit of a disservice to a group like oneness of juju or idris ackamoors pyramids who feature legit African rhythms and chants

the late great, Monday, 7 August 2017 02:59 (one year ago) Permalink

haha Willy bully should be Willy nilly

the late great, Monday, 7 August 2017 02:59 (one year ago) Permalink

Louis Moholo and Dudu Pukwana are mentioned above, but the whole universe of music that came out of The Blue Notes and their coterie is amazing. The Blue Notes recordings themselves are basically mid-60s Afro bop, and they're great, but after they moved to England they all did so many different things: Brotherhood of Breath, Spear, Assagai, Harry Miller's Isipingo and the totally essential "Blue Notess for Mongezi." Just a remarkable constellation of players, exploring a wide range of stuff and bringing South African influences into all kinds of settings.

a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Monday, 7 August 2017 02:59 (one year ago) Permalink

(I am no kind of Afro jazz specialist, but I got into Brotherhood of Breath some years back and started pulling on that string and it led to all of this other stuff I couldn't believe I'd never heard of.)

a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Monday, 7 August 2017 03:00 (one year ago) Permalink

i guess i am just echoing shakey's point up thread about aeoc here but i felt like it should be made again

the late great, Monday, 7 August 2017 03:01 (one year ago) Permalink

I've never really quite thought of the category "Afro Jazz" before, so I've been questioning myself a lot when going through different material. And I've even done some retrospective questioning about some of what I suggested about, e.g., Khan Jamal. I've also listened to the Chico Freeman album I recommended above, and it's a very tenuous connection at best.So I appreciate the late great's questioning about these issues.

Obviously, there's a lot of overlap with "spiritual jazz", and likewise (as the late great notes) some African percussion doesn't really seem all that helpful a guideline. So I'm less sure if "Afro Jazz" is a useful category if we expand it beyond what is literally African.

But maybe there are some artists & albums that are not from Africa but that are much seriously indebted to African music than, for example, Khan Jamal or Chico Freeman. So maybe some paradigm cases of that sort could be helpful. But there's in fact not too many mentioned on this thread that I can really see as being "Afro Jazz" without being literally from Africa. The nearest case I can tell would be The Pyramids record mentioned above.

Pataphysician, Monday, 7 August 2017 03:23 (one year ago) Permalink

Oops, I missed the late great's suggestions of good paradigms: Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, as well as Oneness Of Juju. I'll have to check those out.

Pataphysician, Monday, 7 August 2017 03:26 (one year ago) Permalink

Pataphysician are you a new poster or just new username? Digging yr posts regardless, also reliably good posts from tlg.

sleeve, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 04:24 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm a longtime lurker, then a sporadic poster until recently. I'm thinking about writing up some impressions of albums in this vein that I've listened to (e.g., some of the Khan Jamal stuff), as well as doing so for other albums on the rolling jazz thread (e.g., Ed Kelly & Pharoah Sanders's album, as well as some Mal Waldron I've been listening to)

Also, no one here has mentioned Gétatchèw Mèkurya, but I'm guessing that's a familiar name (as well as not being quite in the vein of the original request).

Pataphysician, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 06:48 (one year ago) Permalink

tbf there is a lot of stuff on this thread whose connection to africa is more thematic than musical

I think this is totally legit and interesting point, which is why I walked back my AEOC recs

curious what Mordy's liked/listened to so far

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 15:58 (one year ago) Permalink

haha maybe I should've read the rest of the late great's posts first *high five*

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 15:59 (one year ago) Permalink

(which is not to say that AEOC aren't great cuz they are just maybe not what Mordy was talking about)

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 16:00 (one year ago) Permalink

the pyramids i knew but hadn't listened to in a while - they're great tho. similarly the sons of kemet album was def worth revisiting.

re new stuff - i really liked the art blakey & the jazz messengers - drum suite. i had slept on the Soweto Vol. 3 album but that has some good stuff on it (i thought it was a bit uneven but prob to be expected from comp type stuff). the salah ragab was great.

oneness of juju was totally unknown to me and that's another great find.

Mordy, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 16:24 (one year ago) Permalink

That reminds me: Oneness of Juju is also on the compilation Africafunk: The Original Sound Of 1970s Funky Africa, which is definitely worth seeking out!

Pataphysician, Thursday, 10 August 2017 05:54 (one year ago) Permalink

Just mentioning that Nigerian Afrobeat legend and master drummer Tony Allen has a rather nice "A Tribute To Art Blakey + the Jazz Messengers" EP out on Blue Note.

calzino, Thursday, 10 August 2017 09:39 (one year ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

there's a new sons of kemet single and apparently an album on the way

has anyone here heard The Comet is Coming? pretty cool stuff i think ppl itt would like.

Mordy, Sunday, 11 March 2018 15:43 (one year ago) Permalink

three months pass...

it's afro jazz time of year again. i made a playlist last year filled w/ lots of great recommendations from this thread among other stuff that might be of interest to ilmers:

Mordy, Sunday, 1 July 2018 17:40 (eight months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

got the latest Sons of Kemet album ("You're Queen is a Reptile") and instantly made me think of this thread, lots of African rhythms/percussion

Οὖτις, Monday, 27 August 2018 17:15 (six months ago) Permalink

yeah it's a good one

the late great, Monday, 27 August 2018 17:15 (six months ago) Permalink

One of my favourite albums of the year.

Tim F, Monday, 27 August 2018 17:20 (six months ago) Permalink

it's Your Queen smdh

Οὖτις, Monday, 27 August 2018 17:22 (six months ago) Permalink

I like this recent reissue, Mulatu Astatke & His Ethiopian Quintet ‎– Afro-Latin Soul Vols 1 & 2---going back to '66, and a few tracks seem redundant or undercooked, but unmistakably he's already in bloom, playing vibes, keys, percussion:

dow, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 01:48 (six months ago) Permalink

This is a brilliant album...

X-Prince Protégé (sonnyboy), Wednesday, 29 August 2018 10:22 (six months ago) Permalink

if you dig Sons of Kemet, then the Shabaka and the Ancestors album from a couple of years ago is key.

fetter, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 15:34 (six months ago) Permalink

One of the members of Shabaka and the Ancestors, keyboardist Nduduzo Makhathini, has several albums out as a leader. His music is spiritual Afro-jazz that kind of combines Coltrane circa '64 with Pharoah Sanders circa '71-'72; lots of modal grooves, some vocal ensembles, etc. They're hard to find as physical objects or even paid downloads, but they're all on Spotify (at least in the US).

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 29 August 2018 15:41 (six months ago) Permalink

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