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In the Seventies, during the long Angolan civil war, some groups in the country's capital, Luanda, began playing Cuban rhythms taken from cassettes brought by Cuban soldiers fighting for the MPLA. This was a strange irony, as both Cuban and Brazilian styles had their own roots in West Africa, and these tapes were a form of coals to Newcastle. But for much of the past 30 years, little has been heard of Angolan music: the war saw to that.
Singer/guitarist Waldemar Bastos was born in Kabinda in 1954 and showed a great gift for music from an early age, when he began to play music note-for-note from the radio on his father's accordion. He toured the country in his late teens with dance bands, absorbing the sounds of the Kimbundu and Oviambundu regions, as well as Brazilian music and the Beatles on the radio. He was also imprisoned under the Portugese colonial government of General Salazar. Angolan independence in 1974 did not lead to a cultural blooming. The new government stamped down hard on "anti-state" activities, such as playing the wrong songs, and in 1982 Bastos defected to Portugal. He moved to Brazil, where he recorded his first album, before returning in the Nineties to Portugal. His music was hugely popular in Angola - both President dos Santos and opposition guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi were thought to have a taste for it, but Bastos's lyrics were humanist rather than political, songs that railed against extremes in a country that was racked by them. He played a free show in Luanda in 1992, and 200,000 fans turned up, a tribute to the influence his music exerted even while he was in exile.
Bastos has signed to David Byrne's Luaka Bop label, and his debut album for them "Pretaluz" (Blacklight) was released. Produced by New York's loft rock king (and Brian Eno associate) Arto Lindsay, the album highlights Bastos's gentle vocals and intricate rhythms on the one hand and his dense, groove-packed beats on the other. On stage, both styles are featured, with Bastos performing acoustic tracks and with a four-piece band. The music include elements of Portugese fado, as well as some of the mournful melodies often heard in the songs of Césaria Evora.
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RT @zacharyatkins1: Waldemar Bastos - Renascence CD: http://t.co/k8Xpt6rshl
RT @JavieraMenendez: Un poco de Waldemar Bastos, excelentísimo. http://t.co/8k9l7jtK4x vía @grooveshark
RT @LerNoticias: Waldemar Bastos atua em Lisboa com a Orquestra Gulbenkian http://t.co/2jyh0utDta