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Babá Ken’s Desert Island Mix

Tuesday July 29, 2003

When asked to choose his favorite music, Babá Ken selected the following albums: 

“The first one I would take,” he said, “not to lose my roots, is my traditional music, but I don’t think you can find it here. [We’re] a minority tribe and we’re not many in the world. I can count the musicians from that area on the fingers on my hand. I have some stuff [sung by] my elder brother. There was just two of them and they sing these weird harmonies and very intricate rhythms you won’t believe. You can’t even notate it. 

“I would take a highlife album from Chief Steven Osita Osadebe. 

“Then I will take a jazz album from John Coltrane. Any of them but the earlier albums were really good. He started listening to the African horns from the northern part of Africa. He started listening to that and his latest albums were really way out there. People couldn’t understand what he was doing. I like that. That’s visionary. He really trip and take his mind somewhere else, out of this world.  

“Next would be a Stevie Wonder album. His inner vision‚ is so deep, [also] ‘Songs in the Key of Life’‚ that’s an evergreen for me, I can hear it everyday. 

“And I would take a Fela album, any of them but mostly the earlier ones. Before he died he was going off his head, I mean he was going wild for me. Because of his arrangements and his knowledge between the African rhythm and the western rhythm and jazz and the groove, a very strong groove—because I’m groove oriented.  

“I also like Hawaiian music, it’s very soothing. 

“And that’s about it for me because with that selection everything is in there for me.”