Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
The ninth installment in the stellar Arabic music series Habibi Funk unearths The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr’s obscure album Jazz, Jazz, Jazz from the rarefied archives. First released in 1980, original copies are said to go for anything up to $1,000, making the LP something of an almost-lost scroll in Sudanese music and an essential exhibition of the northeast Africa nation’s pop ingenuity.
To Western ears, the title Jazz, Jazz, Jazz will seem something of a red herring. This is music more pop-structured than typical jazz with the nine blood-raw recordings powered by an engine of funky organ work and upbeat guitar lines. Leading most arrangements by the hand are the powerful and striking brass sections. Take the upbeat “Saat Alfarah”: the pepper horns tag in and out with singer Saif Abu Bakr’s husky, soulful vocals at the front of the mix with a light brevity. Another highlight comes with instrumental cut “Azzah Music.” The endearingly simple percussion—made up of steady, midtempo drums and what sounds like a gently shook tambourine—provides the backdrop for more freestyle horn play that slinks along with great poise, displaying the Middle Eastern flavors that leak into Sudanese music.
Political instability in Sudan hindered The Scorpions throughout the 1980s and they eventually dissolved. But the band are said to be back in their home nation rehearsing and Abu Bakr has plans to rerelease more old music, no doubt offering up more lost parchments of Sudanese pop that calcify the country’s distinct rhythm.