Last week was spent in Hanoi. This week I’m in Dili, Timor Leste. It is my first time to this very new country surrounded by the ocean and Indonesia. It is a little outpost of Catholicism, youth (75% of the population is under 25 years of age) and untested potential just an hour’s flight from Australia.
The place is overrun with aid workers, UN officials, international police and armed forces from places close (New Zealand) and far (Namibia). Along the narrow tarmac strip of a road running cheek and jowl with the Timor Sea are restaurants with names like Nautilus and Castaway where large screen TVs show the Olympics and Australian rules football matches, dispense champagne and serve pizzas of all varieties. Across the road on the sandy beach Timorese women sell pork, chicken, fish and beef satay and banana juice.
An hour across the water you can get a hotel room, cold beer and three meals a day for $30. All on a pristine beach with some of the most amazing snorkeling in the world. A huge statue of Jesus, with his arms outstretched in a mighty blessing over the coastline, stands atop a mountain giving the feeling of Rio de Janiero. (When Rio was just a village).
The internet connection is improving but still so weak that it is impossible to upload a file or two. Today I bought some Timorese music from a cavernous electrical shop on the main drag of town. I’ll post some of those in due course, but since its been a while since the past post I’ll resort to some files that have been sitting around for a long time waiting for just this sort of occasion.
Think of it as a musical smorgasbord with absolutely no connection with Timor Leste. Just good music.
First up is Sonny Terry (accompanied on guitar by the one and only Sam Houston ‘Lightnin’ Hopkins). The album is from 1963, Sonny is King and one of my favorite acoustic blues discs of all time. Sweet Tater Pie is great nasty fun.
Second off the rank, and all the way from the bayous of Louisana, the one and only and ultimate king of swamp blues, Tony Joe White, recorded in 1980 on the famous American TV show, Austin City Limits. Guitar playing, voice, subject matter and attitude all supremely unique. I Get Off On It, has to be one of the funkiest (and funniest) songs of the Age. Here
Thirdly, from another sleepy colonial city, comes the amazing Franco and TP OK Jazz. Originalite is a collection of early compositions by the genius of African electric guitar from 1956. Music so sweet and sublime it could give you cavities. From a time when rumba ruled the bars and music halls of Africa and jazz bands needed a quorum of at least 10 to be taken seriously. Every song is worthy of classic status. Here
In fourth place, George Benson, another fabbo guitarist, crosses back to contemporary jazz after crossing over to pop from jazz in the mid 1970s. George always loved to sing and some fans never forgave him for going poppy. But he made some of the grooviest jazz-pop of that era and still swung on his guitar. I picked this up 2000 release up in a shop in Tashkent, Uzbekistan some time ago and figure it is as fine an example of contemporary American jazz as anything else from that first year of the new millennium. The opening track, a cover of Donny Hathaway’s The Ghetto connects back to George’s Breezin’ best both vocally and guitar-ily. Here
Finally, representing India comes the New Bharat Brass Band. A wedding band extraordinaire showing off its considerable wayward talents on the trumpet, clarinet, tuba and drums, blasting a wicked way through Bollywood hits, folk songs and matrimonial delights, like Chumma Chumma (Kiss Kiss). here