Mor Thiam: Dini Safarrar (Drums Of Fire) (Jazzman)


Mor Thiam
Dini Safarrar (Drums Of Fire)

One of the most sought-after albums of African tribal music recordings stems not from the continent itself, but from a small label in St. Louis, Missouri, mainly performed by a band of local well-known jazz musicians. Mor Thiam was a young but established drummer and percussionist from Senegal who relocated to St. Louis in the late Sixties, and though he changed his location, his heart and his muse still hearkened back to his homeland. In 1973, he released Dini Safarrar (Drums Of Fire) on the tiny label Rite Record Production, and it has become a Holy Grail of record collectors, fetching hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars. Thankfully, Jazzman Records has seen to it to reintroduce this rarity to the rest of the world, giving the album its first official release in 43 years.

It’s easy to understand the album’s appeal, though. The five songs offer up a heady blend of African percussion, singing in Wolof, and American jazz by a combo featuring experimental jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie. Dini Safarrar (Drums Of Fire) s an early example of Worldbeat music—a cross-pollination of seemingly divergent music styles into a wholly new creation. And the music here is certainly different. The results are highly satisfying as well; the tribal rhythms of “Ayo Ayo Nene,” “Kele Mumbana” and “Kanfera” are highly addictive; it’s impossible to sit still while listening to them, your feet being called to dance about in a way that’s almost pure animal instinct.The other two tracks, “Sindiely” and “Africa” focus more on the jazz side of the equation, both being mellow, easy-tempo numbers with the African elements fitting in quit nicely in the groove.

Though Mor Thiam’s Afro-jazz combo only made this one record, Thaim himself continued to make music, working both as a sideman and as a spokesman for African music in the United States. Dini Safarrar (Drums Of Fire) may be a rare jewel, but this welcome reissue offers the world a chance to hear one of the most exciting—and downright enjoyable—rarities of the Worldbeat scene.

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