Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hugh Tracey

Top 100 2001, #99: Hugh Tracey
(Ombiza Charles – Masida Ngalina)
11" x 8.85"
ink and pastel on wood, 2002
Pulled one again from one of the many boxes in my attic that store the paintings from past Top 100 years. The occasion was a radio broadcast of Georges Collinet's Afropop Worldwide dedicated to Hugh Tracey. Tracey, the Alan Lomax of Africa, cut thousands of discs, field recordings from the 1920s through the 1970s. I have quite a few of those, scattered on different formats, all exquisite. Now a good many of the recordings are available on a cd series, the last (22nd) installment of which was just released. I have found my first music this year to match that of Roland Kirk. In fact Collinet likens one of the tracks he selected to the music of Kirk. It concerns a flute recording made in Congo, twenty years before Kirk came to the scene. Other highlights from the broadcast include a female duet from Malawi, a Xhosa solo on a one string bowed instrument from South Africa, ocinaras from Mozambique, aah too many to mention, but my favorite must be the tune Chemirocha by a Kipsigis woman from Kenya. The song is a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers (Chemirocha is how Jimmie Rodgers is pronounced by the singer). Chemirocha was in my list list of 100 twice before as it is featured on an original 10" disc from The Music of Africa Series that I have. Every song on it is introduced with wit, humor, and knowledge by Tracey himself. To make paintings illustrating the music from Tracey's archive will be a lot of fun again. Often the performers are anonymous or never photographed and I am free to use those images I deem appropriate. Chemirocha did already lead, in 2002 and 2003, to two nice paintings of a Kipsigis woman in full ceremonial regalia. I can't wait!

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