Saturday, 11 September 2010

'Music Was Born in Africa': Jazz Compilation (1956)

If you liked our previous postings of fifties South African jazz compilations here and here, you are going to love this one.

“Music was born in Africa” is a 1956 South African release aimed at “our tourist friends who are taking this record back as a souvenir from Africa”. Much of the text may be patronising but the music sure is something special – more so as my favourite, Martha Mdenge crops up again.

“All these recordings were made by TRUTONE during 1956. Most were recorded for commercial release, but some were completely impromptu performances recorded almost by accident. Such a recording was “TENDERLEY”. It happened while the pianist was amusing himself with this tune during a break in the recording session. Thandi just walked to the piano and began to sing. It is obvious that she had never rehearsed the song, hence the unimportant mistakes in the words but a good memory and natural musicianship saw her through.

“Martha Mdenge’s “TELL ME HOW LONG THE TRAIN’S BEEN GONE” was an impromptu performance too, The recording engineers were experimenting with an artificial echo device at the time and this will explain the dialogue at the start of the take. Towards the end the appreciative whistles of the African Musical Director can be heard in the background.” (from the back cover).

Like the earlier “Jazz from the Township” posting the Harmony Crotchets form the backbone to showcase the likes of Ace Buya, Martin Stanford and Thandi Mpanbani. Ben Sach Masinga does a great baritone version of “Dinah” and swings on Bana Bana.

For the penny whistlers there is an outstanding blues track from Peter Makana – perhaps my favourite on this whole album. Enjoy!

1. Mbube .. leading into Music was Born in Africa - Thandi Mpanbani with Ben Masinga
2. Dinah - Ben Masinga
3. Waye Tshilo - African Mills Brothers
4. Lindiwe - Ace Buya and Harmony Crotchets
5. Peter's Blues - Peter Makana
6. Dubula Mfana - Martin Stanford with Thandi Mpanbani and Harmony Crotchets
7. Bana Bana - Ben Masinga
8. Tenderley - Thandi Mpanbani
9. Sondela - Martha Mdenge and Harmony Crotchets
10. Khala Zo'me - Royal Players
11. Notemba - Ace Buya and Harmony Crotchets
12. Tell me how long the train's been gone - Martha Mdenge and Harmony Crotchets

Rapidshare download link here
Mediafire download link here

There is another more recent South African album with the name "Music Was Born in Africa". Blind mbaqanga singer Babsy Mlangeni put together a heartfelt synth-oriented 1983 offering. Except for the title however, there is not much to compare to the 1956 gem featuring Thandi Mpanbani. Judge for yourself - the title song of Mlangeni's album can be downloaded here (rs) and here (mf).


  1. yess, great tunes, great ben usal a great post!

  2. yessss, as usual a great post. i love ben masinga
    bra robs

  3. great to hear from you bra Robs - I trust life is being kind to you - chris


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