VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Pata Pata Mixtape”

miriam makeba 39.jpg Although often attributed to Miriam Makeba, and sometimes even erroneously credited to Miriam Makeba and Jerry Ragovoy, “Pata Pata”was actually written by legendary Zimbabwe-born (1935), South African-educated, vocalist Dorothy Masuka. dorothy makuzu.jpeg “Pata Pata” was first recorded in 1956 or 1957 in South Africa. In an interview Ms. Masuka recalls, “During the struggle in 1954 I penned the song Pata Pata, and then Miriam went to America in 1958 that’s when she did Pata Pata.” In 1967 “Pata Pata” became a hit in the U.S. for Miriam Makeba due in part to Makeba’s association with Harry Belafonte, who was a major recording artist at the time. Makeba’s 1967 album was entitled Pata Pata, and that is the source of Jerry Ragovoy receiving co-writing credit when the song was released on Reprise records. I was surprised to find so many covers of the song, and even more surprised that only one well known U.S. artist had cut a version. Although not the first (second, or for that matter third) person I would have guessed, as you listen to his energetic improvisation, we hear innovative guitarist Wes Montgomery bring a jazz interpretation to the dance song. An interesting counterpoint to Montgomery’s up-tempo vigor is South African Johnathan Butler who slows the song to provide a beautiful ballad textured guitar treatment. Daude from Brazil and a diverse crop of African musicians all take the song on, twirling it with their own flavors. Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango actually has two distinctly different versions, both of which I enjoy. The island of Cuba also gives us two versions: one with Prez Pardo big band screaming and shouting in a traditional Cuban fifties type arrangement complete with a cheesy organ, and the second is vocalist Lucrecia, whom we recently featured. Lucrecia is also exuberant. I was not able to track down the original from the fifties but Dorothy Masuka recorded the song in 1991 when she was in her mid-fifties. Her voice was still strong and enchanting. Although the arrangement was an update from the fifties version, one can easily hear that the Makeba version has additional elements that Masuka’s does not feature. Among the differences are the catchy piano hook. This is probably the rationale for composing credits given to Makeba, or to Makeba and Regovoy. I wish I could tell you more about a number of the versions but a healthy number of these tracks are downloads, which means I do not have recording information (e.g. place, date, and personnel). Rather than fake the funk or make a fool of myself by trying to guess, I’ll just give it to you the way that I got it. miriam makeba 11.jpg Despite such a variety of versions from a spectrum of artists, Miriam once again proves she is definitive when it comes to singing “Pata Pata.” Moreover, Makeba offers us not one, or two, but instead drops three beautiful versions. The familiar 1967 version kicks off the Mixtape. About a third of the way through (track #6), Mama Africa (aka Miriam Makeba) offers a skipping, joyful version that accents the purity of her voice. The Mixtape concludes with a sensuous, penny-whistle flavored version that features Makeba sexy, full-throated low notes. What range and color Makeba had. She could make her voice do anything, while implying everything. In the Xhosa language “pata” means touch. It is hard to resist the enticing touch of this sensual dance song. —Kalamu ya Salaam Pata Pata Mixtape Playlist pata pata cover 01.jpg 01 Pata Pata - Miriam Makeba pata pata cover 02.jpg 02 Pata Pata - Dorothy Masuka pata pata cover 03.jpg 03 Painting The Town Red - Joe Thompson pata pata cover 04.jpg 04 Wakafrika - Manu Dibango pata pata cover 05.jpg 05 The Best of African Jazz Pioneers – African Jazz Pioneers pata pata cover 06.jpg 06 Welela - Miriam Makeba pata pata cover 07.jpg 07 Negropolitaines - Manu Dibango pata pata cover 08.jpg 08 African Sensations - The New Age Orchestra & Voices pata pata cover 09.jpg 09 Surrender - Jonathan Butler pata pata cover 10.jpg 10 African Jazz Standards – unidentified band pata pata cover 11.jpg 11 Daúde #2 - Daúde pata pata cover 12.jpg 12 Fanfare Africaine: Mummy I Go For Town Vol 1 - Toups Bebey & Le Spirit Pan-African Brass Company pata pata cover 13.jpg 13 My Roberta - Perez Prado pata pata cover 14.jpg 14 Mira Las Luces - Lucrecia pata pata cover 15.jpg 15 Wes Montgomery: Greatest Hits - Wes Montgomery pata pata cover 16.jpg 16 Move It Up - El General pata pata cover 17.jpg 17 Retrorespeck remixed, remastered, & re-energized - Marcia Griffiths pata pata cover 18.jpg 18 Afrika!! Spirit – unidentified band pata pata cover 19.jpg 19 Reflections - Miriam Makeba

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 at 7:59 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Pata Pata Mixtape””

tayari Says:
January 7th, 2011 at 10:22 am

now i know “pata” means “touch” i’m feeling that special touch this song gives. makin’ me feel so, so, so happy. thanks, kalamu.

Troy Johnson Says:
January 12th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Hey I mety Dorothy Masuka recently — se performed in Brooklyn last Summer:

b flat Says:
January 16th, 2011 at 10:16 am

Hello Friend!
Nice compilation of intersting versions of this classic.
One version I would have included is by Coumba Gawlo which appeared on her 1996 release Yo Malé!.
Just a suggestion.
Keep it up!
Warm regards,
b flat

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