Tuesday, 13 October 2009

RIP: Winston Mankunku Ngozi

Jazz great Winston Mankunku has died in Cape Town. The masthead photo of ElectricJive (above) features Mankunku centre-stage on his soprano saxophone playing at the Langa Town Hall in 1972. It was taken by Ian Huntley, a long-time friend and supporter of this great musician.

Mankunku had been ill for months, staying with family in Atlantis. Born in Retreat in Cape Town in 1943 Mankunku leaves a huge legacy to the world of jazz. The Ngozi family was uprooted from their home and relocated to Gugulethu under the Group Areas Act in the early 60s.
John Coltrane was Mankunku's greatest source of inspiration and his respect and admiration for "Trane" endured throughout his career. Ian Huntley recalls many car journeys with Mankunku in the backseat where he would play multiple ongoing looping variations of "My favourite things" as they drove to and from gigs. We in KZN were blessed in the 1980s to witness his special talents when he gigged at the Rainbow in Pinetown and at Eddels in Pietermaritzburg - on the same day!
In 1968 Mankunku recorded the famous Yakhal'Nkomo album together with Early Mabuza, Agrippa Magwaza and Lionel Pillay. Although he received the Castle Lager "Jazz Musician of the Year" in the same year, and despite the fact that the album sold well, Mankunku received little of the royalties.
In celebration of this great musician's contribution to enriching all of our lives, we share this rare and funky  1975 recording of Mankunku with The Cliffs - Alex Express.
Hamba Kahle Baba!
1. Alex Express
2. Over the Cliff
3. Gugulethu
4. Evergreen
5. Revelation



  1. Ah, this is very sad news. Bra Winston has been struggling with his health for some time. I saw him play in Cape Town not so long ago and the difference between hearing such strong music and watching the effort it took him to play was quite something.

    Thanks for sharing this Cliffs album. You can hear Bra Winston in a short interview at:


    He says that he thought the Cliffs were one of the best bands he ever played with.

    Hamba kakuhle Bra Winston.

  2. A sad passing and a great record. very much appreciated.
    Are u able to tell me the label and release/cat.#, I cant quite read the cover.

    thx again

  3. Quimsy: I will get back to you on the label details this weekend - travelling and away from home right now.

  4. thx - I'll wait to hear from u

  5. Couldn't help thinking that the mp3 tags have got a bit twisted here... or is iTunes playing tricks on me? I thought the band was The Cliffs and the album was Alex Express. Could you confirm?

    Whatever, great to hear this. Thanks for another top post.

  6. We are happy to confirm that it is us that are twisted, and not your itunes - late nights you know ... the back cover (also out of focus) has been added as an act of contrition - it is Mankunku with the Cliffs ...

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. OK, thanks. But no need for contrition. I'm just finding my way with this music and am easily confused! Very grateful that you're sharing your knowledge.

  9. Many thanks. -- Murf

  10. warm beautiful sound.
    thank you electricjive
    thank you mankunku !

  11. Hi, can you please re-up the album? This is a gem


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