Monday, 30 January 2012

Spokes Mashiyane - Spokes Hit Parade No. 1 (1962)


Next week marks 40 years since the untimely death of Spokes Mashiyane at the age of 39. The South African legend died of cirrhosis of the liver on February 9th, 1972 at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. Significantly last week marked the 79th anniversary of his birth. On this occasion it seems fitting to present two very rare issues by the renowned penny whistler and saxophonist — one (pictured above) released 50 years ago and the other perhaps his last recording.

An extensive discography for Spokes Mashiyane has been compiled in conjunction with this post and can be viewed at flatint. Many thanks to the team here at Electric Jive for help with that and also to Laurent Dalmasso who suggested the idea for this post.

Willard Cele introduced pennywhistle jive or what would later become known as kwela to South African audiences in the classic 1951 film The Magic Garden. Remarkably the commercial potential of this music was not evident and thus was not exploited by the record companies at the time. Subsequently no other recordings of this music were made until three years later with a track by the Orlando Tin Whistlers. (Rob Allingham in Lara Allen, Circuits of Recognition…)

But it was Johannes 'Spokes' Mashiyane — more than any other — who would popularise this style of music and transform it into a household name starting with four tracks recorded for Trutone on October 8, 1954. One of those, Ace Blues, became a hit, and by 1955 was receiving favorable reviews in the black press. Soon every record company in South Africa was looking to capitalize on an instrument that had been regarded as a mere toy relegated to the rural life of young herd boys.

Of course the instrument’s history is more complex and elements of its 20th century use can be traced back to Scottish marching bands of the 1920s. Lara Allen’s excellent article Circuits of Recognition… elaborates on this subject in great detail and is well worth the read.

Spokes Mashiyane was born in Vlakfontein near Pretoria on January 20th 1933. According to the liner notes of his first Trutone EP, Mashiyane taught himself to play on a reed flute while tending his father’s cattle. Albert Ralulimi in an interview with Lara Allen reveals that Spokes first played on a plastic toy penny whistle before moving on to a metal one. When he was eighteen, Mashiyane moved to Johannesburg where he met Frans Pilane with whom he formed a duo. Together the two busked with flute and guitar on street corners and in parks. Ralulimi goes on to say that Mashiyane's style at the time improvised on grassroots tunes played by "anybody" - the community in general, kids on street corners, and those at shebeens and stokvel gatherings.

It was on one such occasion at Zoo Lake Park (Yvonne Huskisson has it at Phomolong Train Station) that the duo was spotted by Trutone producer and talent scout Strike Vilakazi. According to Rob Allingham, Vilakazi cut at least four tracks with them in 1954: Ace Blues (4080) Kwela Spokes (4081), Skokiaan (4082) and Meva (4083). Huskisson, on the other hand, does suggest that Mashiyane’s first recordings were made in 1949. He would have been sixteen at the time and given that Allen’s account has him moving to Johannesburg when he was eighteen, the earlier recordings may be unlikely.

While penny whistle recordings were popular amongst black consumers in South Africa between 1954 and 1958, two events in 1958 helped propel this style of music onto the international stage and subsequently elevated its stature with white consumers, as Lara Allen points out. One was the UK television show, The Killing Stones, which featured as its theme Elias Lerole’s Tom Hark (Columbia YE 164); and the other was the recording of Spokes Mashiyane and touring American bop pianist Claude Williamson.

In April 1958, Trutone arranged for a collaborative recording with Mashiyane and the Claude Williamson Trio who were touring the country with Bud Shank as the “Jazz West Coast No. 3” at the time. The concert took place at the Bantu Men’s Social Centre (BMSC) and the live recording produced at least two tracks with Mashiyane, Kwela Claude and Sheshisa!

While EMI did well marketing Tom Hark, Trutone did a better job of further branding Mashiyane by exploiting the American connection with the Claude Williamson Trio and transforming him into an “instant celebrity”.

Allen goes on to say: “Trutone's aggressive marketing included billing Mashiyane as 'King Kwela', and printing his picture on record labels; it was the first time a South African record company had lavished such extensive publicity on a black musician. Although it was unprecedented to print comments on record labels of 78s aimed at black consumers, the "Kwela Claude" label declares: "The famous American pianist CLAUDE WILLIAMSON, says: "The Kwela Rhythm, born in the craddle of jazz, is unlike any other I have played. It could well take its place alongside Calypso and the Samba.""" (Allen)

Such successful marketing certainly helped raise the prestige of kwela and Mashiyane at the time. Trutone issued copies of Kwela Claude not only on its Quality label but also on its Rave label. This is significant in South Africa in that Quality records were typically marketed to black consumers while Rave records were marketed to white consumers. The EP Kwela Claude (Rave, REP 4) is the first to feature a black artist in such a significant profile on a Rave release.

Likewise Mashiyane’s first full-length album, King Kwela (Rave, RMG 1107), issued around 1958 or 1959, became the first long-playing record to feature exclusively a single black artist. Most recordings by black musicians until that point were issued on 78 rpm. If black music appeared on compilation LPs, it was usually marketed to white consumers or intended for international export. Issued on the Trutone’s Rave label, it is likely that King Kwela was also being marketed in this way. Though a full length LP, King Kwela is still a compilation of previously issued 78 rpm tracks.

1958 also marked another watershed moment in Mashiyane’s brilliant career. Trutone producer Strike Vilakazi persuaded Mashiyane to take up the saxophone and apply his penny whistle techniques to the instrument. Big Joe Special (Quality, TJ 500) recorded that year, was one of the early results of the saxophone experiment. As with his earlier Ace Blues, Big Joe Special was a sales phenomenon. The record became the trendsetting hit of that year and would inspire a whole new style of music. Sax jive — latter called mbaqanga — would dominate South African urban music for the next twenty years. In many ways this track marks the beginning of the eventual decline of not only the majuba big band jazz era (see Majuba Jazz on Electric Jive) but also penny whistle kwela itself. Younger consumers were looking for faster, heavier sounds and mbaqanga would soon satisfy those desires.

Trutone’s success with Mashiyane was extremely lucrative for the company, yet they continued to pay Mashiyane a flat fee for his recordings ranging from seven to fifty dollars per record. David Coplan mentions that after Mashiyane pressed the company on royalties he was assaulted by thugs. It is no surprise then that the musician was subsequently lured away by Gallo Records in 1958. Under a deal brokered by Union Artists with Gallo, Mashiyane became the first black musician in South Africa to receive royalties from his recordings.

Gallo picked up where Trutone left off and continued the extensive marketing of Mashiyane. Gallo’s New Sound label, with whom Mashiyane was recording, donned their all-to-familiar record sleeves with his image and a listing advertising his other recordings. View Chris Albertyn's two posts on some of the New Sound 78 rpm recordings here and here at Electric Jive.

In 1959 another full-length album Spokes of Africa was issued. Mashiyane's second, this LP to my knowledge was also the second for any black artist. Gallo’s New Sound label then launched an excellent series of LP records around late 1959 or early 1960. The first being New Sounds of Africa (NSL 1001) a compilation LP with Mashiyane, Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks but almost exclusively featured tracks by Mashiyane. This series would go on to included the classic 1962 Castle lager Jazz Festival (NSL 1010) and the highly acclaimed and collectable Chris McGregor and his Castle Lager Big Band (NSL 1011). Of the eight LPs that I am familiar with from this series, Mashiyane appears on four and it is his Spokes Hit Parade No.1 (NSL 1009) that we feature on Electric Jive today. (Thanks to Sean Conlon for trading this into the flatinternational archive.)

The Gallo NEW SOUND Series:

NSL 1001 - New Sounds of Africa Vol. 1 (c1960)
Spokes Mashiyane with Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks
NSL 1002 - New Sounds of Africa Vol. 2 (c1960)
Spokes Mashiyane with Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks
NSL 1006 - Top Hits of the Big Three - New Sound Vol. 4 (c1961)
Spokes Mashiyane, Reggie Msomi and Lemmy Mabaso
NSL 1007 – Twisting with Reggie Msomi (1962)
Reggie Msomi
NSL 1008 – Lemmy Hit Parade No. 1 (1962)
Lemmy Mabaso
NSL 1009 - Spokes Hit Parade No. 1 (1962)
Spokes Mashiyane
NSL 1010 – 1962 Cold Castle National Jazz Festival (1962)
Various Artists
NSL 1011 – Jazz: The African Sound (1963)
Chris McGregor and the Castle Lager Big Band

Mashiyane continued recording with Gallo throughout the early to mid 1960s. In July of 1965 he was invited to appear at the Newport Folk Festival in the United States where he “stole the show” according to the sleeve notes of his US issued LP, (King Kwela) (London, TW 91408). An August 7, 1965 article in Billboard Magazine remarks that "Spokes Mashiyane, from Johannesburg, South Africa, was an unscheduled treat. His swingy beat and flute captured the audience. He was the unexpected highlight of the Saturday night concert."

Murray Lerner’s film Festival documents the concert and includes footage of Mashiyane's performance. Watch a clip here. Note that Mashiyane is not the first performer but comes in towards the end of this clip at around 7 mins and 40 secs.

A number of Mashiyane recordings post-Newport reference his US visit, for example the tracks 5th Avenue and New York City (New Sound, GB 3617) not to mention New Port and America on his final LP.

Though Mashiyane is present at the birth of Gallo’s Mavuthela, his recordings for Gallo appear to taper off towards the later half of the 1960s. It is not clear to me why, but I suspect that the success of the hard-mbaqanga sound produced by Mavuthela during this period might have contributed to what appears to be a waning interest in Mashiyane.

Interestingly a 1969 compilation LP, the Golden City Album does include a mbaqanga styled sax jive by Mashyiane. The track is noticeable for two reasons: one, the title “The Return of Spokes” suggests an absence, and two the record is issued by Trutone not Gallo. Perhaps the “Return of Spokes” has a double meaning here, and could be interpreted in one of two ways: he is returning to recording or he is returning to Trutone. A recording with Trutone does suggest a break with Gallo. Moreover his next LP King of the Penny Whistle was produced by David Thekwane and issued by Teal Records.




Released on Teal’s Star Black label (SKL 3000) (their first I believe) in 1969, Mashiyane here returns to the penny whistle, which for that time seems particularly unusual. The popularity of kwela had been waning since the late 1950s and with the rise of mbaqanga in the 1960s, it seemed that the style of music had all but been abandoned. Mashiyane here revisits in name at least some of his big hits like Ace Blues and TJ 500, the catalogue number for his first sax hit Big Joe Special. Surprisingly, he is backed by a band boasting a full elastic mbaqanga sound. My guess is that this is Mashiyane’s last album. It is also the second we are sharing today.

To view an extensive discography for Spokes Mashiyane visit flatint.

Enjoy!

SPOKES HIT PARADE NO. 1
1962
New Sound
NSL 1009
RS







KING OF THE PENNY WHISTLE
1969
Star Black
SKL 3000
RS

Monday, 23 January 2012

Mahotella Queens - Pitsa Tse Kgolo (1982)


















A simple offering today, but one I hope you will enjoy. Pitsa Tse Kgolo, recorded in late 1981 and released in new year 1982, is a Sotho/Pedi language album by the Mahotella Queens, produced by Marks Mankwane and released on Gallo's Hit Special label.

Pitsa Tse Kgolo ("the big pot" [idiom: melting pot of music]) was one of a steady stream of LPs released by the then-familiar line-up of the Queens, led by the throaty Emily Zwane. The album contains that classic Mahotella vocal sound combined with the typical early eighties mbaqanga beat - crystal clear guitar, thumping bass, soulful drums and shimmering keyboards. Some readers may recognise the title of the LP as a lyric from Mahlathini and the Queens' 1987 song "Melodi Yalla", a tune that pays tribute to Gallo-Mavuthela by calling it a big melting pot of music - but no version of this song actually appears on this album! The phrase "pitsa tse kgolo", however, had often been utilised in songs over the years to refer to Mavuthela and its music, so its usage as the title of this 1981 LP is perhaps incidental.

"Ditaba Tse Monate" is a nice tune to open the LP. It features some brief lead vocals from vocalist Virginia Teffo (a studio regular since around 1967), lovely Marks guitar, and tight Queens harmonies. Tenor singer Sinah Thibedi takes over in "Tate Nswarele", composed with male soul vocalist Willie Rasebotsa (though his voice does not appear on this album). The pace keeps up through to the Rupert Bopape-Marks Mankwane penned number "Lebowa Le Legolo", a tribute to the North of the country to which this album is dedicated. (Pitsa Tse Kgolo was so popular with Pedi listeners that a follow-up album, Tsa Lebowa, was recorded and released later in 1982.) "O Somela Byalwa" is another straightforward tune that contains pleasant and tightly-binding harmonies. "Dikgupa Marama" is something of an oddity in as much as it throws soul into the mix - but that's no bad thing. Marks is clearly adept at playing in different styles and the long honed "strong" vocal styling of the ladies is put to great use here. It isn't a tune to miss, and the same goes for "Koko". That song, closing the LP, is a lovely soul ballad written by Virginia Teffo in tribute to her grandmother.
















The ladies in 1982, being handed carnations by their producer and mentor Marks Mankwane.
L to r: Emily Zwane, Hazel Zwane, Caroline Kapentar, Marks, Beatrice Ngcobo

Though by 1981 the Makgona Tsohle Band had dissolved (not reuniting until 1983 after a 6-year break), producer Marks Mankwane had put together a unique combo of musicians which he named The Beggers to back his mbaqanga/soul artists, including the Queens. (If you haven't already, check out Teaspoon Ndelu's wonderful 1981 LP Ke Kopa Madulo, released shortly before Pitsa Tse Kgolo and featuring excellent on-time accompaniment from The Beggers.) Marks the guitar wizard cuts through the rhythmic atmosphere with his talents, backed by virtuoso Mzwandile David on bass and the other Beggers.

The 1964-1971 period was perhaps the heyday of the Queens - the triumvirate of Mahlathini, the Queens and the Makgona Tsohle Band was a strong steamroller that was hard to beat. 1971 saw the line-up of the Queens begin to change significantly (Mahlathini himself left the team in 1972 for 11 years) and, although the Queens continued to sell-out township halls and garner huge album sales for the next few years, their popularity - and the listenership of mbaqanga - faltered somewhere around 1978-onwards after the infamous political tension and no mbaqanga act was ever to regain its glory (at least within South Africa. Mahlathini and the Queens went onto become more celebrated overseas than at home). Despite this shift, some of the more famous mbaqanga artists continued to record and perform and did so with some degree of success (perhaps they could draw an audience because of the fame of their name). The Queens somehow managed to hang onto a sizeable core of listeners and record-buyers and as such the line-up was able to remain fairly active during these disco/soul-heavy years! (In fact, even when bubblegum music took hold and mbaqanga lost the battle with black listeners, Marks continued to preside over a number of various Queens productions. He left Gallo in 1984 and briefly ran his own independent label, "Mankwane", before joining CCP/EMI as a producer. He eventually returned to Gallo with old friend West Nkosi's persuasion in 1986. Unsurprisingly, Marks took the Queens with him wherever he went!)

Pitsa Tse Kgolo features a line-up consisting of Beatrice Ngcobo, Emily Zwane, Virginia Teffo, Sinah Thibedi, Maggie Khumalo and Caroline Kapentar. This was more or less the group that sustained the Queens during the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, until the original (1964-1971) line-up reunited for the international breakthrough.

Enjoy!


















PITSA TSE KGOLO (Mahotella Queens)
Hit Special HIL 2004
1981

1. DITABA TSE MONATE
2. TATE NSWARELE
3. BA MPHURALETSE
4. O SOMELA BYALWA
5. LEBOWA LE LEGOLO
6. MAKAKO A MONNA
7. DITSHABA MATONA
8. EKWANG HLE
9. DIKGUPA MARAMA
10. KOKO

RS / MF

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

Monday, 16 January 2012

Habiba: Kirk Lightsey in South Africa (1974)


This post is the first in a thread of four worthy bop-oriented albums recorded by a common core of eight jazz musicians (all featured on this recording) while they spent much of 1974 touring South and southern Africa. In kicking off chronologically with Kirk Lightsey’s February 1974 recording, a preface on the special role of one Lovelace Watkins is appropriate. Watkins signed Lightsey to accompany him for five years of playing all around the world from 1974 to 1979. Detroit-born Watkins was a charismatic and gifted singer whose travelling and musical networking seemed to open up opportunities for good things to happen around him.
 
In addition to being highly popular in Europe and Australia, “the Black Sinatra” gigged southern Africa multiple times over a period of ten years from 1971 to 1981. Having developed a massive fan base from earlier tours, it was in 1974 that Watkins was able to invest substantially in bringing out a big band of excellent U.S. jazz musicians to spend the year touring southern Africa. During this time the band members found the space and opportunity to headline their own gigs and also to record on various labels - working around prior contractual obligations.

The last three albums in this thread also feature Marshall Royal, Count Basie's saxophonist and band leader for more than twenty years.
An example of Watkins’ generous resourcefulness is evidenced by the December 1977 jazz concert he made happen for a crowd of 9,000 in Maseru, Lesotho – headlining with Dizzy Gillespie, and including the likes of Monk Montgomery and Kirk Lightsey. Watkins, who graduated from Rutgers University, gave all the proceeds from that concert towards bursaries for African students to study at Rutgers. Billboard mentions it here

Watkins recorded two albums in South Africa , both of which went gold. Watkins went to number 6 on the south African charts in 1974 with Neil Sedaka’s “The Way I Am”. Download that song here (15th Nov 1974). Watkins died aged 58 in 1995 of leukemia.

Kirk Lightsey’s enduring keyboard genius stretches back to the 1960s where he appears on five recordings with Chet Baker on the Prestige label. After his five-year stint with Watkins, Lightsey went on to tour with Dexter Gordon from 1979 to 1983.  Since then, the last thirty years have cemented Lightsey’s reputation as a gifted modern Jazz pianist with a career that has included sessions with some of the world’s finest jazz instrumentalists, along with a series of classy recordings and solo performances of his own.
Kirkland Lightsey

Habiba was “a concept thought up by trombonist Al Hall jnr. The sleeve notes record that Hall suggested the group try “to put our thoughts down musically on some of the aspects we have seen” (in southern Africa). “It is obvious that the rhythm and voicings of Africa have been deeply etched into these compostions by Kirk Lightsey and Rudolph Johnson.”

“On this album a combination of African rhythms and harmonies give licence to the inventive genius of the musicians who explore the moods of black Africa”.

Notable among the listing of U.S.-based jazz musicians is one South African, bass player, producer, writer and engineer, Johnny Boshoff. Boshoff's bass graces numerous genre's of South African recordings from Johnny Kongos, through prog-jazz rock band "Square Set", to Juluka. Boshoff ably filled in on three of these recordings because of contractual record label issues with Watkins' own bass player, Monk Montgomery. Montgomery headlines the next record to be shared in this thread, with a 1974 live concert at Orlando Stadium in Soweto. For now, enjoy what has become a sought after and highly rated album!

Recorded in South Africa 17/02/1974:

Kirk Lightsey (Keyboard);
Rudolph Johnson (Tenor Sax / Flute);
 Johnny Boshoff (Bass);
Curtis Kirk (Drums);
Charles Mallory (Guitar);
All Hall jnr. (trombone);
 Delbert Hill (Clarinet);
Danny Cortez (Trumpet).

Produced by Peter Thwaites and Peter Lotis
Recorded by Peter Thwaites in the Gallo Studios - February 1974. Album released in February 1975.
Gallo GL1774
Habiba (Kirk Lightsey) 21:40
Here It Is (Rudolph Johnson) 11:57
Fresh Air (Kirk Lighstey) 5:32

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Monday, 9 January 2012

I'd Like to Spend Some Time in Mozambique


"Some songs get stuck in the head, while others are stuck in the blood. Mozambique Music Awards. It's our music. It's our culture." (From the 2011 Mozambique Music Awards ad campaign)

Music with a Mozambican connection has featured twice at electricjive - Chris posted the historic 1955 Gallotone LP with a range of Mozambican fado recordings and Siemon posted a Banda Six album by Mozambican Mofene David Sitoe. So we're spending some time in Mozambique to re-address the balance. But first a little context before the three albums we're sharing today.


Radio Clube de Mocambique in 1967

The first radio broadcast in Mozambique was made on 18 March 1933 by a private club of Portugese settlers based in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). Called Radio Clube de Mocambique the broadcasts went out to an estimated 1400 receivers and in the following years two further private radio stations started in Beira, the country's second largest city after Maputo. In the late 1950s the station underwent a major format change to cater for the younger generation who were not being catered for in South Africa by the state owned SABC. LM Radio as it was popularly known, was world renowned for its Top Twenty chart show and played a major role in promoting South African Artists and their music. LM Radio was taken over by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in 1972 and following Mozambican independence in 1974 (the station was occupied by Frelimo) the station was replaced by Radio 5 (now 5FM).

As teenagers during the late sixties and early seventies my sisters would tune in to LM Radio on Sunday nights between 8.30 and 9.30 pm to listen to the LM Top Twenty. In the sixties the South African economy - part supported by Mozambican labour on the mines - had grown strongly and affluent, mostly white, South Africans were drawn to the gambling mecca of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). The hotel circuit in LM supported a range of musicians and bands catering for the tastes of this wealthy clientele. A similar "scene" existed in Johannesburg in the early sixties (see some of Eddy de Clerq's posts at Soul Safari) but was under pressure from teenagers seeking alternatives to what their parents were listening to. For a small taste of some alternative sounds check out the Cazumbi or Zulu Stomp bootlegs which give a small insight into some mostly white rock and roll sounds issued on 45 during this period.

But the challenges of maintaining a colonial war against the freedom movements were stacking up. In 1974 a group of low-ranking army officers rose to overthrow the Portugese government. The military-led coup (the so-called Carnation Revolution) returned democracy to Portugal and ended the unpopular Colonial War where thousands of Portugese soldiers had been conscripted into military service in the colonies of Angola, Mozambique and Guinnea Bissau.


The name "Carnation Revolution" comes from the fact no shots were fired and when the population started descending the streets to celebrate the end of the war in the colonies carnation flowers were put on the guns' ends and on the uniforms.

This led to Mozambique gaining its independence from Portugal on 25 June 1975, after more than ten years of a liberation war conducted by the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo). After independence LM Radio and the other two private stations were nationalised to form the state-controlled Radio Mozambique. This did not change until after the South African-backed civil-war ended in 1992 when broadcasting was de-regulated.


The bar at the famous Hotel Polana

Beyond the hotels with their exclusive clientele what was happening downtown, or across the tracks on the other side of town? The answer is Marrabenta, a form of Mozambican dance music that emerged in the 1950s in the urban areas of Maputo. The name was derived from the Portuguese rebentar (arrabentar in the local vernacular), meaning to break (the guitar strings). Influenced by Mozambican and Portugese folk music and also Western pop, the earliest marrabenta artists include Fany Pfumo, Dilon Djindji and Wazimbo.


Fany Pfumo in full effect

Dilon discovered his love of music at a very early age, and in 1939 built himself a three-string guitar made from an oil can. Three years later this home made effort was replaced with a six-stringed version and he began performing at parties and ceremonies with his uncle, Antonio Chikonela Jinge, and friend, Xavier Santos Pfumo. When he completed his studies in 1947, he became a pastor, and went to work on the island of Mariana, where he continued to play music as well. Besides playing such popular styles as zukuta and magica with musicians like Constancio Machiano and Ernesto and Armando Magaia, Dilon began experimenting with marrabenta music.


Dilon Djindji in perfromance at age 79

In 1960 Dilon founded his first band, Estrela De Marracuene (Star Of Marracuene). Other firsts were to come: four years later he made his radio debut, and in 1973 his first single ('Xiguindlana') was released by Producoes 1001, where he was working as a production coordinator. Thanks to his energy and enthusiasm for the music, as well as the hundreds of performances he notched up around the country, Dilon made the music famous. Fany Pfumo and Wazimbo were similarly active in various Maputo bands in the 1960s.

After Independence Wazimbo worked with the big band of Radio Mozambique which went on to become Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Mocambique. They were also one of the first bands to release an LP with a European "World Music" label (Germany's Piranha) and were noted for their funky style of marrabenta with electric guitars, powerful horn lines and soulful vocals. On the "World Music" wave came other Mozambican bands like Eyuphuro, Ghorwane and compilations on Globestyle (the two volume "Mozambique 1" and "Mozambique 2" are still in print on CD and well worth checking out.

And so today electricjive is proud to present some forgotten recordings of Mozambique. The first is a compilation from 1980 - simply entitled Varios 1, on the local Ngoma label featuring a range of artists. The second is mid eighties album from key Marrabenta star Fany Pfumo. Book-ending the eighties is a compilation of singles from Maputo that first featured at my matsuli site. This includes a fantastic lead track from Fumo again.

Enjoy your visit and time with us in Mozambique today.


Various Vol 1 Rapidshare / Mediafire

Fany Pfumo - O Rei Rapidshare / Mediafire

Various - Mozambique 45s Rapidshare / Mediafire

And finally to close Sam Mangwana's classic Mozambique Oye praising the Mozambican struggle for independence from Portugal. A Luta Continua!



Information sources: Calabash, World Music Network and National Geographic.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Dorothy Masuka - Ingalo (c1981)


Welcome back to Electric Jive!

Today we open 2012 with quite an uncommon offering — the very first LP by South African legend Dorothy Masuka.

Although recording many hits on 78 rpm for the South African Troubadour label in the 1950s, Ingalo was Masuka's first full-length album. Backed by Lovemore Majaivana and Job’s Combination, this Zimbabwe-only pressing was recorded and issued around 1981 on the Starplate label.

According to Rob Allingham, Masuka was born to parents of Lozi and Zulu origin in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1935. When she was twelve, for reasons of health, she was transferred to St. Thomas Covent, a Catholic boarding school in Johannesburg. It is here, through a connection of one of her teachers, that Troubadour talent scouts Ben Ledwaba and Cuthbert Matumba heard her performing in a school concert. By sixteen, Troubadour had arranged a contract with Masuka’s mother that gave the company a form of legal guardianship over her and, as they say… the rest is history!

Masuka’s first big hit with Troubadour was Hamba Notsokolo (Troubadour, AFC 170) recorded when she was just eighteen in 1953. This tune, a South African classic, was revisited by her at least three times during her broad career and a less well-known version is featured here as Notsokolo on the Ingalo LP.

According to Z.B. Molefe, in the book A Common Hunger To Sing, one of Masuka’s first recordings (if not the first) was Into Yam also made in 1953. This song was most famously covered by Miriam Makeba in Lionel Rogosin’s clandestine, 1959 film Come Back Africa. This is also the same tune that introduced Makeba to the United States in her first television performance on the Steve Allen show in November 1959.

Indeed some of Makeba’s biggest hits were originally Masuka compositions, most notably Phata Phata, Ha Po Zamani, Khawuleza, Kulala, Khanyange and Teya Teya to name but a few. Some of these tracks can be viewed on the post Makeba — Track Less Travelled here at Electric Jive. Masuka’s 1980s version of Teya Teya is also featured on Ingalo as Teyateya.

Troubadour at times controlled nearly 75% of the African market and Masuka was their first and biggest star — making her one of the leading South African recording artist of the 1950s. As producer for Troubadour, Cuthbert Matumba was open to recording songs that sometimes contained critical commentary, and the company occasionally drew visits from the Special Branch of the police, who often confiscated masters and copies of records. In 1961, Masuka wrote and recorded the song Lumumba, in response to the outrage over the execution of the newly elected Congolese leader. The South African Special Branch took note and confiscated the master and began searching for Masuka. In the meantime, she returned to Bulawayo and remained there on the advice of Troubadour. After the incident, Masuka was declared persona non grata by the South African authorities and was forbidden from re-entering the country. She remained in exile from South Africa for the next 31 years.

Masuka would spend the following years travelling and performing in Africa and Europe. In 1965 she returned to Rhodesia for a performance. After hearing that the Ian Smith Government was planning to arrest her, she moved to Zambia where she remained in exile for the next sixteen years as a flight attendant for Zambian airways. After Zimbabwe independence in 1981 she returned to the country and resumed her recording career with the album featured here, Ingalo.

According to the liner notes, Ingalo was Masuka’s first full-length album. (View the liner notes at flatinternational). The recording was made and produced in Zimbabwe by Crispin Matema sometime in the early 1980s. Lobegula Nkosi, a contributor to inkundla.net (#385), reveals that Jobs' Combination, was a short-lived band formed by Lovemore Majaivana and Fanyana Dube, and recorded with Masuka after their first album Istimela was released in 1980. According to Nkosi, the group soon split-up. The post also discusses Majaivana’s subsequent abandonment of his music career. View more information on Lovemore Majaivana here at Nehanda Radio.

An excellent compilation of Masuka’s early work on 78 rpm from her Troubadour period can be found on the CD reissue Hamba Notsokolo (Gallo, CDZAC60) featuring detailed notes by Rob Allingham (and from which much of the above information is drawn).

Finally, the title track of the LP, Ingalo, is one of my favorites and was also featured on one of my early all-South African mixes posted at Matsuli in December, 2008. For this occasion I have re-posted those two mixes — volume 1 and 2 — here at the flatint blog.














Dorothy Masuka and Job’s Combination
Ingalo
(Starplate 001, c1981)

01) Ingalo
02) Sala Ulandela
03) Nhingirikiri
04) Uyo Ndiani
05) Chimanga
06) Gelo
07) Teyateya
08) Gona Ramachingura
09) Notsokolo
10) Izono

Enjoy!
RS