Thursday, 19 January 2012

Monk Montgomery live in Soweto (1974)

9th November 1974 – Orlando Stadium, Soweto

After more than ten months backing Lovelace Watkins on his southern Africa tour, this pedigree collection of musicians laid down a top-notch live jazz gig in Orlando, Soweto. The only difference to the line-up from the February 1974 Kirk Lightsey Habiba recording (see here) is that Monk Montgomery replaces Johnny Boshoff on bass, and Marshall Royal comes in as band leader and first saxophonist.
No need to dwell on Montgomery’s impressive credentials, but suffice to note that his musical bloodline goes way back to anchoring Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra from 1951 to 1953. Prior to his southern African touring, Montgomery had been playing with Cal Tjader for five or six years. While associated with Chisa Records, Montgomery recorded a fair bit with Hugh Masekela, including on the first recording of “Grazing in the Grass”. Born in 1921, Montgomery died of cancer at the age of 61 in May 1982 – before he could fulfil his dream of pulling together a “World Jazz Festival”.
Monk Montgomery gave this picture to Al Hall jnr.

This live  album has its own special sense of place with the Soweto compere introducing Count Basie’s “Jumping at the Woodside” as “Jumping at the Woodstock”, but Basie’s band-leader of twenty years (Marshall Royal) does not miss a beat and plunges the band head-first into a tight and exciting set.

Ray Nkwe and Monk Montgomery, Soweto 1974 - pic by Al Hall Jnr
Side two becomes really interesting with an Al Hall jnr composition in tribute to Soweto impresario Ray Nkwe. African echoes abound in an eleven-minute cracker of a track.  Rudolph Johnson’s “Testing One, Two” rounds off the gig, showcasing both Johnson and Lightsey.

In February we will pick up this golden thread again, with two more recordings this twelve-piece band made a month later in Johannesburg.

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here


  1. A beautiful swinger,thanks so much Chris.

  2. just came upon this blog. Wow, Thank you thank you! I lived in Swaziland for a time and now i miss south african music all day long.
    -Chris K.

  3. i did not even know this album existed. interesting to hear Monk in a more traditional jazz ensemble setting, in the same era that he made the "Reality" album. it's a shame that he is not more widely acknowledged as the pioneering bassist that he was. so major thanks for posting this, the world needs this stuff! - Joe

  4. Impressive ! thanks a lot ! on the first terrific track , Royal is on tenor ??!!!

  5. Marshall Royal on alto - Rudolph Johnson on tenor


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