About Explorer Series: Africa
The Nonesuch Explorer series is “the series that introduced countless listeners to music from afar," says the New York Times, "opening up the delights of world music by mingling the scholarly and the sensuous ... The albums, recorded from the ‘60s to the ‘80s, have held up magnificently.”
The revival of the series began in August 2002 with the release of thirteen volumes of African music, including the popular Drum, Chant and Instrumental Music; Witchcraft and Ritual Music; three mbira (thumb piano) recordings from the Shona people of Zimbabwe; and Hamza El Din’s The Water Wheel.
Originally issued between 1969 and 1983, the music in these releases was recorded in Ghana, Nubia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Uganda, Zaire, Kenya, and Tanzania. Western audiences heard many African instruments for the first time: the marimba of Tanzania and the dzil or Ghanian calabash-xylophone; Zimbabwe’s mbira and Burundi’s sanza, both thumb pianos; the talking drums of Niger and Burkina Faso, whose pitch is shifted through changing the tension of the drums’ membranes; and dozens of other flutes, fiddles, horns, drums, musical bows, zithers, and lutes from across the continent. “Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain, and Bush” broke new ground by presenting the sounds made by a dozen African mammals.
The series re-issue sees these legendary titles remastered and repackaged for the new millennium, including newly designed o-card covers and the inclusion of original liner notes.
While much of what is released today as “world music” reflects the influence of many cultures, most of the recordings in the Explorer Series offer a musical window to a specific community at a specific point in time, without the strong imprint of Western society or pop music. These recordings have served as source material for much experimental and world music today, and the series itself continues to stand on its own as a unique document of musical culture.
September 24, 2002
An overview of all 13 of the Explorer Series albums from Africa and featuring an assortment of musics from throughout the continent, these 16 tracks illuminate one of the world’s richest sources of musical creativity in all its bracing variety.