Kenya – Machito (1957)

Album no. 13/1001

What time is it? It’s Afro-Cuban jazz time of course!

This is another instance where if you enjoy drumming, you’re probably going to be a big fan of the album. Fair amount of horns as well, lots of upbeat numbers. So there’s that.

Have you listened to this album before?

NK: I had to google Machito, no way had I heard this album. My favourite part of his wikipedia entry is that he gave ‘conflicting accounts of his birth’. He was born in 1908 in either Havana or Tampa, or 1909 in Havana. Or Tampa. Or in Tampa in 1912. Or, 1912 in Havana. Another school of thought says he was born in Havana in 1915. A man of mystery. I like his style already.

CL: I haven’t even heard of this so-called person before. So no, I haven’t listened to this album.

Standout track?

NK: ‘Wild Jungle’. It’s a good opener, really upbeat. Lots of energy. I also like the saxaphone showing off on ‘Congo Mulence’, and the last minute or so of ‘Frenzy’ is just the drums getting stuck into it, which I enjoyed.  

CL: Well, there’s not really a ‘person’ here, so my mistake. There’s certainly no lyrics or singing. So in terms of a standout… I suppose it’d have to be ‘Holiday’. This is exactly the sort of music that would soundtrack a holiday in 1957.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

NK: The lobby of 1960s beachside hotels. Also, not meaning to talk smack about my mate Machito, but some of this sounded very elevator music-y to me. Sorry mate.

CL: Anywhere they serve mojitos. Or at an amateur ballroom dancing competition. Can I also just say, I don’t know why they have African masks on the cover of this album. There’s very little here that sounds African to me. Not that I’m an expert on traditional African music but… you know.

Why has this album been included on the list?

NK: I reckon it’s the drums. They’re a real driving, force in this, and they get featured more than on any other album so far I reckon. Check out the end of ‘Frenzy’ if you don’t believe me. The horns are fun too, but the percussion is what stands out. I know there were bongos all over the shop on that other record, Sabu(?), but they weren’t front and centre they way they are here.

CL: I’m not entirely sure. It makes alright background music? And if I had any proficiency at dancing, this might be an excellent soundtrack for that sort of thing. However, is that reason enough to be included on the 1001 albums list of ALL TIME? I don’t believe so.

Will you be listening again?

NK: Probably not. But, it was pretty painless! I think it helped that every song is under three and a half minutes. But I’ll tell you what, I am HANGING OUT for some vocals. I know Sabu sang a bit, but that was ages ago and in another language.

CL: See this is interesting because old mate Sabu and his Palo Congo had bongos a-plenty and I haaaaaated that. Whereas this album also has bongos, but there’s plenty of other instruments along for the ride as well. I still didn’t love this, but at least I got all the way through.


NK:This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Kenya on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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