Record of the Day: SE Rogie, "Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana"

Record of the Day: SE Rogie, “Dead Men Don’t Smoke Marijuana”

IF Rogie
“Dead Men Don’t Smoke Marijuana” (Real World CDRW 46)

The beautiful smile that stands out on the cover immediately invites you to feel at ease, after which just listen to the first piece to smile in turn, relaxed and gently lulled by the warm and deep voice of S.

E. Rogie, amiable Griot who came from Sierra Leone to the door of Peter Gabriel’s English studios to tell us not only that the dead don’t smoke cannabis (as the title of the album says), but to weave one musical story after another, accompanying himself with his colorful acoustic guitar, which converses amiably with Danny Thompson’s double bass, the electric guitars of Alfred Pannerman and Emile Ogoo, the percussion of Zozo Shuiabu and the keyboards of Simon Clark through arrangements of great lightness and refined instrumental combinations.

Sooliman Ernest Rogie (this is his full name), self-taught, was among the first musicians to bring the rhythms of the West
sly of the style called Palm Wine Music. As a boy, while he was working as a tailor, he had listened to people sitting around the fire singing while drinking copious amounts of palm wine (a whitish liquid extracted directly from the trees, as alcoholic as beer and very popular among the local population because it was extremely cheap).

This type of music began in Africa thanks to Portuguese sailors, who introduced guitars to the continent for the first time; the first African musicians to play in this style were probably inhabitants of Liberia who adapted the acoustic instrument to their syncopated style (which also combined the strong influence of Calypso from Trinidad and Tobago) also accompanying themselves with percussion and choirs.

Sooliman’s career took him throughout Europe and the United States before he moved to England, where he lived until the age of 68 (he died in 1994, a few months after this record was made).
“My songs contain the joy and sadness of people,” Rogie said, “they talk about ordinary people, about everyday life, it’s the music of their hearts.”
“Kpindigbee”, “Jaimgba Tutu”, “Nor Weigh Me Lek Dat” are delightful songs, perfect for summer, to be listened to if possible by the sea, perhaps blissfully lying in a hammock (even if there are no palm trees it doesn’t matter).

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical subjects.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: Un disco per ogni giorno dell’anno” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.