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