This previously unreleased recording marks the very last time that Johnny Dyani and Dudu Pukwana performed in South Africa, days before going into exile with Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes via the Antibes Jazz Festival in July 1964. Captured at “The Room At The Top” in Cape Town by Ian Bruce Huntley, this live gig represents a poignant last union and “point of fracture” from which six very talented artists struck out to seek their respective musical fortunes.
I am hopeful that those jazz enthusiasts among you might want to share your thoughts on the arrangements and interpretation of these four tracks spanning just over seventy minutes. For all these musicians July 1964 in Cape Town was a big turning point, for some, a leap into unknown fragmented futures scattered across the globe. I cannot hear this music without this uncertain emergent context in mind. Read Tony McGregor describing the ‘journey of faith’ here.
On the opening track of the concert Ronnie Beer’s tenor sax leads into Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘Night in Tunisia’ with a strong upbeat performance. The introduction of Dennis Mpale’s trumpet in the fifth minute shakes it all up, setting the scene for a vibrant evening of musical conversations pivoting around the swinging Johnny Dyani bass and tight drumming from Max Dayimani, punctuated by Tete Mbambisa’s bubbling piano.
Before Dudu Pukwana joins in for the last two tracks, Ronnie Beer further demonstrates his class with the band rendering his own upbeat composition, ‘Immediately’. Bra Tete does his own bit of vocal scatting following his fingers in joyful moments of letting go.
The towering Dudu Pukwana summonses attention in the opening of ‘Green Dolphin Street’,(thanks Jonathan for the correction) before the conversation meanders comfortably along, providing spaces for exploratory solos. It is an historical sadness that a beautiful Pukwana solo is abruptly interrupted for what was the end of one side of Ian’s reel-to-reel tape.
Each listening of Dudu Pukwana’s plaintive alto sax on the essentially gloomy final track, “Close Your Eyes” sparks my own imagining of emotional turmoil and uncertainty. Introduced by Dennis Mpale on trumpet over an ever-swinging Dyani-Dayimani rhythm, and preceded by Ronnie Beer on tenor sax, Pukwana enters in the seventh minute in muted protest, which unwinds over ten minutes of exquisite contemplation. But then, approaching seventeen minutes in, the ever playful Tete Mbambisa (piano) starts to swing with Dyani and Dayimani, letting out yelps and whoops of appreciation in the music’s moment. Following a brief Dyani solo, Ronnie Beer interjects on tenor sax in the 21st minute to ‘hayibo’ shouts of appreciation, followed by Dennis Mpale’s uplifting trumpet. Somehow, after that Pukwana’s final and brief closing re-entry sounds more resolute.
All the recordings by Ian Bruce Huntley were made with the explicit support and permission of the band members recorded. Ian has agreed to Electric Jive sharing these recordings freely on a non-commercial basis as a means of honouring the musicians and ensuring that this important legacy does not become lost.
There are four earlier postings from Ian Huntley's jazz archive on Electric Jive - if you have not yet downloaded them, follow these links:
LAST NIGHT AT THE ROOM AT THE TOP (1964)
Johnny Dyani - Bass; Dudu Pukwana - Alto Saxophone (tracks three and four only); Ronnie Beer - Tenor Saxophone; Dennis Mpale - Trumpet; Tete Mbambisa - Piano; Max Dayimani - Drums
1. Night In Tunisia – Dizzy Gillespie (15:21)
2. Immediately – Ronnie Beer (15:46)
3. Green Dolphin Street (16:01)
4. Close Your Eyes – Bernice Patkere (23:55)
Rapidshare download here
Mediafire download here