Mongezi Velelo (Bass) was a founding band member of the legendary Blue Notes in 1963 (first called the Castle Lager Jazz Band), but stayed on in South Africa when Chris McGregor and others left. Shakes Mgudlwa (piano) the band’s main composer, died in Swaziland in 1971.
Gwen Ansell (Soweto Blues) places this album “in the tradition of intellectually challenging bebop-styled music begun by the Jazz Epistles.” Soul Jazz of the late 60s was a powerful point of identification for black South Africans with the blossoming civil rights and black power agendas in the United States. While LPs like this one were really precious artefacts that were reverently circulated and looked after in the townships, so too were Jazz imports such as the Jazz Crusaders, Modern Jazz Quartet, Miles Davis, Jimmy McGriff – just to list a few recently dug up in Mamelodi, Pretoria – but perhaps more about that in another post.
Producer Ray Nkwe is absolutely right when saying that those who hear this album will want more. He assures the fans that this first record was just the beginning of the Soul Giants and that there were “more groovy things to come”. It seems – please someone tell us we are wrong – that this was the only issue from the Soul Giants.