In the early 1970s Samuel Charters travelled to West Africa in
order to trace the roots of the blues,
especially the "pre-war" style of the 1920s and 1930s. He
recorded musicians in Ghana, The Gambia and Senegal, focusing on
the music of the professional musicians - the griots. The LP
recordings feature two kora tracks by Jali Nyama Suso, plus
other songs performed by griots on the balafon and xalam. In
addition there are also some superb shaped-note hymns and choral
pieces performed by a Ghanaian choir, as well as recordings of
street celebrations, Ewe drumming, a Jola dance, plus
excellent liner notes and photographs.
Originally released through Sonet, it is a pity that these
albums have never been re-released on CD, for they form part of
an invaluable resource on early recordings of griot music.
Charters also published a book which described his trip through
West Africa in detail - The Roots of
London: Quartet Books. 1982.