Eclectic Swedish label Country & Eastern has released three CDs this month: Ammasu Akapoma Group: The Music of Ammasu – Brong-Ahafu, Ghana 1976, Jonas Knutsson & Horn Please: Horn Please!, and Bitter Funeral Beer Band w Don Cherry and K. Sridhar: Live in Frankfurt 82, plus five mp3 albums: Ammasu Akapoma Group: Ammasu – More Drumming, Ammasu Akapoma Group: Ammasu – More Singing, Ammasu Akapoma Group: Ammasu – Analytical Drumming, Bitter Funeral Beer Band: Live in Nürnberg 84, and Jonas Knutsson & Horn Please: Extra Tracks.
"…1975-77 I was studying music in Ghana with the Ewe- Brong- and Lo-Birifor peoples," says Bengt Berger. "I stayed for a long time with my family in the small village of Ammasu near Dormaa in Brong-Ahafu to learn from the Ammasu Akapoma Group, the hottest providers of music for the funerals in the area."
The Music of Ammasu is a musical portrait of the village of Ammasu with a 28 page booklet with texts and pictures. "On this album you will find ritual and recreational drumming, singing in sorrow and happiness, children’s music, a brass band and more," continues Berger. "Texts and photos will also be put up on the Country & Eastern site showing the making of the Atumpan drums, musical life, portraits and life in the village. Three mp3 albums will give you more drumming, singing and analytical recordings for those interested in how west African drumming pieces are actually put together."
The Bitter Funeral Beer Band was a unique band in the early world music movement with an own identity that mixed African funeral music and improvisation with a Nordic touch that has not existed before or after the few years in the 80’s that the band was active. "I started this band after my years in Ghana and based the music on the funeral music concept of the Lo-Birifor people of northern Ghana and their xylophone music. We also played some traditional Ewe drum pieces," says Berger. "The band did its first CD, Bitter Funeral Beer, on ECM and then one more, Praise Drumming on the Swedish Dragon label."
Country & Eastern will release two live concerts by the band on October 16, 2007: CE 09 Live in Frankfurt 82, that was recorded by Hessischer Rundfunk at 18 Deutsches Jazzfestival at Alte Oper in Frankfurt with Don Cherry and the Indian sarod maestro K. Sridhar as guests, and CEX09 Live in Nürnberg 84 (recorded by Bayerischer Rundfunk) which will be released as an mp3-album only.
In June this year Country & Eastern recorded Swedish saxophone great Jonas Knutsson who has been leading this group with some of the best of the young Swedish folk musicians for two years in a music that flows from the traditional to the newly composed and from the strictly arranged to the freely improvised. In Horn Please! six saxophones plus bass and percussion give you Swedish folk music with a very traditional content and a very modern sound.
For more information about the label go to: www.countryandeastern.se