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Day By Day

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Album Review

The second volume of vintage E.T. Mensah material from the RetroAfric label, Day By Day includes more fine highlife and calypso numbers from the bandleader's heyday in the late '50s and early '60s. The sound quality of the original tapes used has noticeably improved from volume one (All for You), with an emphasis on highlife material this time out. Highlights include the calypso "Ghana-Guinea-Mali" (commemorating the union of the three West African countries), the speak and sing vocal mix on the traditional "Kaa No Wa," and the swinging highlife number "205." Unfortunately, "1914" is the only instrumental cut included (compared to a handful on All for You), but it's breezy bebop drive, tasty horn charts, and fine solos all make up for the disparity. In fact, with abundant saxophone and trumpet statements (many by Mensah) heard throughout the disc, there is certainly not a lack of fine instrumental material to be had. And for a somewhat peculiar highlight, there's the congo number "Senorita," sung in Spanish and sporting a slowed-down, mambo/boogaloo rhythm replete with timbales. This sort of "Cuban" highlife really isn't so strange, considering the mutual musical influence that's taken place between West Africa and the West Indies during the last four or five hundred years via the slave trade (the calypsos heard here started life, like so many Caribbean rhythms, as part of the West African drum tradition). History aside, this is a great collection. Both of RetroAfric's E.T. Mensah titles are highly recommended, but for those with a single disc option, Volume 2's better sound quality makes it the one to get.


Born: 1919 in Accra, Ghana

Genre: Africa

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

With the passing of trumpet player, saxophonist, and vocalist Emmanuel Tettey "E.T." Mensah on July 19, 1996, at the age of 78, Ghana lost one of its most influential musicians. Respectfully known as "the father of modern highlife," Mensah played a vital role in the evolution of Ghana's music. In the early '90s, Mensah recalled his revamping of highlife, explaining, "We urgently wanted an indigenous rhythm to replace the fading foreign music of waltz, rhumba, etc. We evolved a music type relying...
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Day By Day, E.T. Mensah
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