Monday, 29 July 2013

John Mehegan's other recording in South Africa


I was not aware this 1959 recording existed until I stumbled upon it in a recent vinyl digging expedition. Jazz pianist and teacher John Mehegan holds a special place in South Africa's jazz history, having recorded what are said to be the first long-playing jazz records featuring black South Africans - Kippie Moeketsi, Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa included. Read more about "Jazz In Africa" at Flat International here. Mehegan as pianist and teacher clearly contributed to and significantly influenced the playing of jazz in South Africa

Mehegan was a professor of jazz at the Julliard School of Music, and also at Yale University. In addition to writing multiple books, and a seminal four-volume series on jazz improvisation, the pianist made four recordings for Columbia and Savoy as leader. He also recorded with Billy Holiday, Charles Mingus, Kenny Dorham, Lionel Hampton, Slam Stewart and Dinah Washington.

It seems that Mehegan;'s capacity for empathy and improvisation stretched beyond his music. In 1957 Mehegan was branded as an 'uncooperative witness' by the House Committee on Un-American Activities during their investigations into Communist links to the music industry.

The LP featured here does not appear to be referenced much on the internet. Morris Goldberg does mention the recording in passing during an interview with Don Albert here. Goldberg goes on to say that Mehegan gave him a six hour lesson on jazz harmony around the time this album was recorded in South Africa. Goldberg recalls subsequently practicing Mehegan's exercises for many an hour thereafter, such that when Goldberg got to New York in 1961 and heard Coltrane playing in modal style it was already very familiar to him.

In addition to studying at the Manhattan School of Music from 1961, Goldberg would join Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa for further lessons with Mehegan in New York at night, exploring free jazz. Goldberg has returned to South Africa frequently, contributing to seminal recordings along the way. Ian Huntley made quite a few recordings of Morris Goldberg in Cape Town during the mid sixties. There is a 1966 recording which features Goldberg and Winston Mankunku playing Coltrane's "Ole" and a number of other free-oriented tracks, giving reference to how the cross-fertilization of Mehegan and Goldberg's New York experiences were assimilated back in South Africa. You can find that recording here. Other Ian Huntley jazz archive with Morris Goldberg can be found herehere and here, and there are still some more to come. The Urban Jazz Band and quartet recordings from 1975 can be found here and here.

Vocalist Peter Lotis will be known to many South Africans from the 60s and 70s as a radio personality and entertainer.

John Mehegan's Piano in Gold Burg
1. Gold Burg (Morris Goldberg)
2. It's Just the Gypsy in My Soul
3. Don't Be That Way
4. Mangos
5. Strange
6. Gee, baby, I'm so good to you
7. I hear Music
8. Dinah
9. Once Again In Love
10. Lush Life
11. Summer Time

John Mehegan (Piano); Morris Goldberg (Saxophone); Peter Lotis (vocals); Teddy Bowles (drums) Harry Tallas (bass).


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Monday, 15 July 2013

Classic Mbaqanga Girl Groups - Vol. 4

ABOVE - IZINTOMBI ZESI MANJE MANJE IN 1975.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: LINDIWE MTHEMBU, JANE DLAMINI, NOBESUTHU SHAWE, RUTH MAFUXWANA

Collecting records from the glory days of black South African music invariably results in the accumulation of “factory-line stuff”. It is something inherent within mbaqanga music, which was as quick to produce as the traditional snack it was named after. But very often, that factory-line material would be intercepted. The individual talents and geniuses of the wonderful musicians in the studio would collide spectacularly and explode. The results of that explosion were stunning masterpieces that blended superb vocal harmony and sumptuous guitar rhythm together seamlessly. It is these masterpieces that Electric Jive presents here proudly today – the fourth installment of our regular series, Classic Mbaqanga Girl Groups.

“Awuthule Bo”, recorded in 1970, is one of the classic hits from the Mahotella Queens repertoire during their most successful era. Nobesuthu Shawe, one of the group’s regular vocalists and the composer of this song, tells her baby through fabulous high-spirited jive to listen to mother and quieten down. The ladies’ 1967 tune “Umuzwa Ngedwa” is an oddity because of its unusual swing-like melody, a throwback to the styles that their brand of mbaqanga had replaced. On the other hand, “Metsoalle Yaka”, is a deeply soul-infused 1970s number with some crazy-brilliant vocal work, featuring the golden voices of Thandi Radebe, Beatrice Ngcobo, Emily Zwane, Thandi Nkosi, Constance Ngema and Caroline Kapentar. The Mahotella Queens was perhaps the finest example of a truly classic mbaqanga girl group. The harmonies blended perfectly, the songs – either based on themes of love, folklore or topical matters – were always relevant, and the essential instrumental backup from the Makgona Tsohle Band was as raw and emotive as possible. Just one listen to their selections in this compilation certainly does go some way towards confirming those statements.

While the Mahotella Queens was the first group on the scene to pioneer the new, more electric-led female vocal jive of the mid-1960s, they were certainly not the only team of singers to shoot to stardom with beautiful recordings. Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje arose some three years after the Queens had already bedded into the market as the most successful female group of the 1960s, but this wasn’t going to deter Sannah Mnguni and her fellow songbirds, Thopi Mnguni, Thoko Khumalo and Nunu Maseko, from challenging the Queens for the crown. “Salani Kahle” spotlights Sannah’s beautiful vocal talent against the solid rhythm of the group. Along with the likes of mbaqanga vocalists such as Hilda Tloubatla, Irene Mawela, Olive Masinga and Julia Yende, Sannah possessed a voice that was instantly recognisable no matter which group she recorded with. She had left Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje in 1968, moving to the famous and well-known girl group the Sweet Sixteens which was led by Irene. Although Sannah did record some enchanting, hypnotic tunes with the group like “Uthuleleni”, she decided to return to Izintombi in 1970, bringing with her a junior Sweet Sixteen, Jane Dlamini. In 1972, the Izintombi line-up was thrown into jeopardy when the core members of the team resigned. Sannah, Thopi and Thoko – as well as lead guitarist Hansford Mthembu, Thopi’s husband – left the company and joined EMI, where they formed a successful new mbaqanga girl group called Amagugu. It remained a popular act until the early 1980s, when changing musical tastes brought an end to the dominance of the mbaqanga girl group. Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje retained its popularity through the early 1970s with a revised line-up: Jane Dlamini was joined by Nobesuthu Shawe (joining Isibaya after four years with Mavuthela’s Mahotella Queens), Beatrice Ngcobo (who was to depart the group soon and join the Mahotella Queens later in 1973), Lindiwe Mthembu and Ruth Mafuxwana. “Siya Kwa Mzilikazi”, featuring Izintombi’s regular groaner Saul Shabalala, was one of the many hits recorded by this newer incarnation of the group. "Sicela Indlela", another tune of similar vintage, sounds so carefree and laidback that it's almost as if the ladies are jamming with each other at a rehearsal.

During the mid-to-late 1960s, Mavuthela Music’s roster expanded so that set units of female singers were formed, utilising many of the names originated by Rupert Bopape back in 1964, and arranged almost in a hierarchy: the so-called “top tier” was the group that recorded under the names Mahotella Queens, Marula Boom Stars, Soweto Stars, Dima Sisters, Izintombi Zomgqashiyo, and the Sweet Home Dames. A second regular unit, featuring the voices of singers such as Julia Yende and Windy Sibeko, recorded under names including the Mthunzini Girls and Izingane Zomgqashiyo. “Sangena, Sangena” is an infectiously loud tune that has a slight-rumba feel to the rhythm – and a melodica is included in the band for good measure! On the other hand, “Akashaywa Umfazi” is the top tier at its best. Written by vocalist Mildred Mangxola and featuring Simon 'Mahlathini' Nkabinde on lead vocals, the song refers to physical abuse against women, although the song could be categorised as being more “classic mbaqanga” than “ballad”. Mangxola had joined Mavuthela in 1965 with her group, the Daveyton Sisters, with whom she had been singing since she was in her teens. The Sisters recorded some solid material for Mavuthela, but was to eventually disintegrate, with Mangxola and fellow Daveyton vocalist Thoko Nontsontwa joining the Mahotella Queens. Mangxola's wonderful, lively vocals can be heard prominently on "Akashaywa Umfazi", "Sengibuya Emarabini" (in which she has a very brief solo) and on an early tune with her old bandmates, "Ulele Emini U Makoti", a song composed by Makgona Tsohle Band drummer Lucky Monama.

After Mahlathini left Mavuthela in 1972 following a dispute over royalty payments with Rupert Bopape, he formed a new group called Amakhosazana which found some astonishing success as a performance-only group. This venture lasted only two years, after which the great groaner joined the new black music operation recently started at Satbel Record Company. Cambridge Matiwane, producer of the new subsidiary, busied himself building up a roster of artists to rival the material pumped out of the successful Mavuthela and Isibaya stables. Mahlathini preferred to work in conjunction with a female group, and although the Mahotella Queens remained the sole property of Gallo’s Mavuthela, a new group was formed at Satbel that was simply named The Queens. Pay disputes over at Gallo saw several of the Mavuthela singers move over to Satbel to record with Mahlathini. These included Koekie Makhanya, Mildred Mangxola, Ethel Mngomezulu and Thoko Nontsontwa. The Queens recorded some of the finest female vocal classics one can find. The raw passion and emotion came across in whatever song they sang, be it a ballad (“Siyaniduduza”, “Nginothando”) or a lively and boisterous tune (“Baratsale”, “Mhlobo Mdala”). Also at Satbel was Izintombi Zephepha, a group led by former Mahotella Queens and Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje vocalist Nunu Maseko. The group mostly recorded with singer Victor ‘Mahlabathini’ Zulu, a fine vocalist and groaner.

Mahlathini Nezintombi Zomgqashiyo (or “MNZ”) was a shortlived reunion between the groaner and five of the 1960s line-up of the Mahotella Queens. MNZ, which was put together by Marks Mankwane in 1983 on the back of a nostalgia trip for mbaqanga’s heyday, was named in that way so as not to disturb the Mahotella Queens line-up of that time, which had been stable for some years by that point. Interestingly, MNZ’s 1984 LP Pheletsong Ya Lerato features Mahlathini on only two of the ten tracks, making that particular album more or less an Izintombi Zomgqashiyo project. “Moradi Wa Mofokeng” is perhaps one of the finest songs produced by this line-up. Hilda Tloubatla, one of the most recognisable and popular lead vocalists of mbaqanga's heyday, leads the ensemble here, and the troupe's vocals are nothing short of strong, hearty and passionate. Backed by the unrelenting beat of the Makgona Tsohle Band, this certainly is the “A” team performing at its very best. While Mahlathini Nezintombi Zomgqashiyo busied themselves recording some of their best new material since the 1960s, the latter-day Mahotella Queens led by Emily Zwane solidly carried on recording the wonderful, sturdy, easy-listening material they were famous for. “Moleko Ntlohele” is a rich, watery ballad that spotlights their beautiful, soulful and emotive voices.

Thanks to Siemon Allen for contributing the Mahotella Queens songs “Awuthule Bo” and “Metsoalle Yaka”, and to Chris Albertyn for the equally wonderful songs from the Sweet Sixteens and Mahlabathini. I’m very grateful to both of you for your help in adding to this collection of classic, wonderful jive…

…and now, it’s over to the girls for another dose of goodness from the archives of yesteryear. I sincerely hope you download and enjoy.

YEBO!

CLASSIC MBAQANGA GIRL GROUPS
COMPILED BY NICK LOTAY
VOLUME 4

1. Awuthule Bo*
Mahotella Queens
Gumba Gumba BL 123
1970
FROM THE LP "BEST OF THE MAHOTELLA QUEENS"
*COURTESY OF SIEMON ALLEN

2. Sangena, Sangena
Izingane Zo Mgqashiyo
Motella LMO 110
1968
FROM THE LP "INDODA MAHLATHINI"

3. Salani Kahle
Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje
CBS CB.4007
1971

4. Mmathobela
Mahotella Queens
Gumba Gumba MGG 716
1977

5. Uthuleleni*
Sweet Sixteens
Troubadour SPA 892
1969
*COURTESY OF CHRIS ALBERTYN

6. Siyaniduduza
The Queens
Soweto SWB 136
1974

7. Siya Kwa Mzilikazi
Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje
CBS LAB 4042
1973
FROM THE LP "SIYA EMSHADWENI"

8. Umuzwa Ngedwa
Mahotella Queens
Smanje Manje SJM 7-5
1967

9. Akashaywa Umfazi
Sweet Home Dames
Motella LMO 110
1968
FROM THE LP "INDODA MAHLATHINI"

10. Baratsale
The Queens and Ndlondlo Bashise Band
King KGB 034
1976

11. Metsoalle Yaka*
Mahotella Queens
Gumba Gumba BL 123
1977
FROM THE LP "BEST OF MAHOTELLA QUEENS"
*COURTESY OF SIEMON ALLEN

12. Mathamyizimimyaba*
Izintombi Zephepha
Soweto SWB 14019
1976
FROM THE LP "MAHLABATHINI AND IZINTOMBI ZEPHEPHA"
*COURTESY OF CHRIS ALBERTYN

13. Musu Dlala Ngami
Mahlabathini
King KGB 006
1976

14. Iminyaka Kayifani
Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje
Masterpiece LMS 529
1977
FROM THE LP "IMINYAKA KAYIFANI"

15. Maile
Mahotella Queens
Gumba Gumba BL 226
1980
FROM THE LP "TSAMAYA MORATUOA"

16. Moradi Wa Mofokeng
Izintombi Zomgqashiyo
Gumba Gumba BL 457
1984
FROM THE LP "PHELETSONG YA LERATO"

17. Moleko Ntlohele
Mahotella Queens
Hit Special IAL 4005
1984
FROM THE LP "KHWATHA O MONE"

18. Vulamehlo
S'morden Girls
Masterpiece MS 508
1980

19. Sidlala Yonke Imidlalo
Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje
Masterpiece LMS 529
1977
FROM THE LP "IMINYAKA KAYIFANI"

20. Ha Bo Tle
Mahotella Queens
Gumba Gumba BL 226
1980
FROM THE LP "TSAMAYA MORATUOA"

21. Sikhulekile*
Mahlabathini and Izintombi Zephepha
Soweto SWB 14019
1976
FROM THE LP "MAHLABATHINI AND IZINTOMBI ZEPHEPHA"
*COURTESY OF CHRIS ALBERTYN

22. Nimzwile Umntimande*
Sannah Mnguni Nesimanjemanje
CBS AB 284
1971
*COURTESY OF CHRIS ALBERTYN

23. Nginothando
The Queens and Ndlondlo Bashise Band
King KGB 034
1976

24. Awungifanelanga*
Sweet Sixteens
Troubadour SPA 892
1969
*COURTESY OF CHRIS ALBERTYN

25. Hole Thaba
Dark City Sisters
HMV JP.1002
1966
FROM THE LP "STARTIME VOL. 3"

26. Ulele Emini U Makoti
Daveyton Sisters
Gallo-USA USA 320
1965

27. Sicela Indlela
Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje
CBS LAB 4042
1973
FROM THE LP "SIYA EMSHADWENI"

28. Uyangizungeza Lombemu
Usizwe Namatshitshi
CBS LAB 4022
1971
FROM THE LP "NOMA UNGAYAPHI BAKHALA NGATHI"

29. Mhlobo Mdala
The Queens and Ndlondlo Bashise Band
King KGB 035
1976

30. Sengibuya Emarabini
Mahotella Queens
Motella LMO 110
1968
FROM THE LP "INDODA MAHLATHINI"

RS / MF
ABOVE - IZINTOMBI ZESI MANJE MANJE IN THE STUDIO IN 1976.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: LINDIWE MTHEMBU, JANE DLAMINI, RUTH MAFUXWANA, NOBESUTHU SHAWE AND HILDA TLOUBATLA

Friday, 12 July 2013

Mix-tape holiday preview of albums to come

When I have the good fortune of meeting up with old friends who live far away from my home I often cannot help myself in putting together a mix-tape of musical delights to mark the occasion. More so if this friend of thirty years shares a blog with you and is visiting the motherland on a kind of musical working holiday which includes launching the re-issue of "African Songbird" in Cape Town this coming weekend.

For those of you who cannot make it to Cape Town there is a good possibility that the performance will be streamed live from Tagore's Jazz Bar - do stop by the Pan African Space Station (PASS) website and check for updates HERE.  

So, in addition to encouraging Cape Town residents to join us in celebrating Sathima Bea Benjamin this weekend, the purpose of this post is to celebrate my long-weekend 'holiday' excitement with a preview selection of tracks from albums that I plan to share on electric jive in future. ( I have been working hard on digitizing as I have a very unfortunate work travel schedule over the next six months). Also, it always gives me pleasure to give Matt Temple a mix-tape CD with one or two tracks he probably has not heard before, to slot into the car-player as we embark on our adventures around Cape Town.

I feel very privileged to be going to meet and listen to Sathima performing with Hilton Schilder and his band in an intimate setting. I have already packed a number of Ian Huntley's photographs to ask Sathima, her sister Joan (Flower of Cape Town), and anyone else who can help in identifying a number of musicians. The book layout and printing deadline looms and the more detail we can insert in the captions, the better.

Turning to the screening of Dan Yon's documentary on Sathima this Sunday, I look forward to learning more about her remarkable life and art. Having read Patti Smith's account of life in New York's Chelsea Hotel, I am curious to hear of Sathima's experience of this extraordinary establishment and its residents. Preview of Sathima's Windsong.

Then there is Future Nostalgia on Tuesday evening at the Mahogany Room, with Matt spinning an all-vinyl set.

So, without further ado, herewith a sampler of tracks selected from amongst various albums I plan to share on electric jive in the future. While some of the tracks are covers, they are all performed by South African artists. The download is in mix-tape format - the separated tracks and full albums will become available in due course. Enjoy!!

1. Reggie Msomi - No Pay No Play (SABC Transcription ~1965)
2. Tony Bird - Song of the Long Grass (Tony Bird - 1976)
3. Jenny Cantan - Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (Radio Bantu Hits 1972)
4. Wanda Arletti - Love Power (Love Power - 1969)
5. Teaspoon Ndelu and His "T" Boys - Ukhezo Oluncane (Manyeledi, Mayeledi - 1972)
6. Malopoets - Sound of the People (Fire - 1982)
7. John Moriri and the Manzini Girls - Wenzani Lomfani (Isikhova - 1976)
8. Willie & Paul - Umalokozana (Umakoti ka Themba - 1982)
9. The Sounds - Thiba Kamoo - (Super Soul - 1974)
10. Faro - Vai La Casa (Muporofita - 1990)
11. Inyanga - Ingwe (Inside the Night - 1982)
12. The Sounds - Bushy Mayanka (Super Soul - 1974)
13. Julius Mdaka and the Manyunyu Sisters - Mipoyiyekile (Xiphayu Xamhunhu -1985)
14. Abafana Bamogoduka - Amachachacha (Manyeledi, Mayeledi - 1972)

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Zambezi Restaurant, District Six Jazz: Part II


District Six: 1965. Pic: Ian Huntley
Electric Jive celebrates its 300th post of this blog with two more historical sets recorded by Ian Bruce Huntley during 1964 at the legendary Zambezi Restaurant in District Six Cape Town. In addition to an elegant trio rendition of popular numbers by Chris and Philly Schilder with Max Dayimani, there is a lively performance by Tete Mbambisa's Jazz Disciples where we hear at least one local composition - "Dollar's Moods" by Hugh Masekela and first recorded by the Jazz Epistles. (Thanks 'anonymous' for this helpful correction, and thanks Bob D and MB for help in naming the other tracks). Any help in naming the remaining unidentified track would be much appreciated.

On a related 'heritage practitioning' and archiving note: The Centre for Popular Memory at the University of Cape Town has recently updated its website. It is now possible to listen to a number of interviews Colin Miller did with Cape Town jazz musicians such as Harold Japhta, Robbie Jansen, Cliffie Moses, Cups and Saucers Nkanuka, Monty Weber, Richard Schilder, Donald Tshomela and others. You can find this important resource here.

SET ONE: Chris Schilder, Philly Schilder, Max Dayimani
1.      Green Dolphin Street (10:19)
2.      My Man's Gone Now (5:38)
3.      Too marvelous for words (5:47)
4.      Unidentified Track 4 (7:02)
5.      Milestones (8:24)

SET TWO: Dennis Mpale (trumpet), Ronnie Beer (saxophone), Tete Mbambisa (piano) – not certain who is on  (bass), Max Dayimani (drums)
1.      Dollar's Moods (Hugh Masekela) (9:30)
2.      Sweet and Lovely (7:26)
3.      ? (4:41)
4.      Misterioso (Thelonius Monk) (6:22)
5.      Friday the 13th (13:31)

Fruit and veg vendor outside Beaconsfield Bar, District Six. Pic: Ian Huntley
 
Mediafire SET ONE here and SET TWO here
Rapidshare SET ONE here and SET TWO here

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Giant Hits: Seventies Soul mbaqanga (1977)


 I am always inspired by visitors who engage Electric Jive by leaving comments, asking questions and making requests. Rashied in following up on a post on The Raiders (see here and here) asked if anyone had any music by The Tulips. I am glad to be able to oblige Rashied.

This ten-track compilation stands out for its attractive vocals holding together a fusion of soul, mbaqanga and a touch of disco - an interesting moment that captures shifting trends and tastes at the time. The Tulips offer four great soul-inspired tracks, with their sweet-voiced lead singer sometimes imitating Mpharanyana's odd 'coughing' habit.

The Additions manage a pleasant fusion of soul-mbaqanga, while the lively Mthembu Queens give a nod to disco with their Asambeni Bafana (Let's Go Boys) - a great track which Nick has previously shared on this blog - Classic Mbaqanga Girl Groups Vol iii. (here)

The Movie Movies (I love the name) are pure Zulu soul-disco, while The Tulips cross-over towards mbaqanga in the catchy Banomona.

This record is still in great condition after thirty six years of careful storage by my friend Burgert. Thanks for the gift! Please do enjoy.

 
RS here
MF here

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Allen Kwela: Past, Present and Future - solo guitar


An awesome out-of-print tape for the Electric Jive archive today, from yet another of South Africa's complex musical geniuses.

In his 1990 liner notes to this solo recording, France-based Henri Martin laments the fact that he could not find any records of his favorite South African jazz musicians. So, he decided he would make a recording himself. Willem Moller of the Gereformeerde Blues Band lent out his studio and helped with the sound engineering. The original idea was to record the Allen Kwela Trio who had just come off a successful three-week stint at Kippie's in Johannesburg. Budget constraints trimmed that down to a solo recording. Martin mentions that Kwela took a long time to "find the right feeling" in the studio and while he became a good friend, he was also a "sometimes painful perfectionist".

Kwela's 1972 masterpiece "Allen's Soul Bag" can be found on EJ here. The track "Question Mark" from Allen's Soul Bag is also featured on the Next Stop Soweto Vol 3 compilation. The Allen Kwela recording "Black Beauty" features Kippie Moeketsi on alto and can be found here. Kwela teams up again with Kippie Moeketsi on Gideon Nxumalo's 1970 holy grail "Early Mart", which is also available on EJ here. In sharing two early 78rpm recordings of Allen Kwela here, Siemon notes that Allen Kwela is reported to have played alongside Winston Mankunku Ngozi and Barney Rachabane in the group "The Cliffs". That great 1975 recording too, is archived on EJ here.

Five of the nine tracks on this tape are also featured with a full band on his acclaimed recording "The Broken Strings of Allen Kwela": including Past Present and Future as well as, Sunday Blue, Tranquility, Stand Up, and KwaMashu. The notes next to the song titles below are Allen Kwela's own comments on his choices.

1. Say it with Love: "Is a tune of mine. It means one must say or do everything with love."
2. Past, Present and Future: "It was beautiful in the past. Black is still beautiful in the present and will always be in the future. The deprivation of rights of the South african Black National did not and will not change that."
3. Sunday Blue: "Is dedicated to a beautiful crystal clear  sky-blue Sunday in 1975 when everything went perfectly: pure romance."
4. Tranquility: "When I wrote this tune back in 1968 I had a feeling of calmness and the self-confidence, hence the title."
5. Stand-Up: "Against all that is not right and forced on you."
6. My Funny Valentine: "One of the old standards I adore.
7. KwaMashu: "The township outside Durban, home to my brothers, and sometimes myself".
8. Who knows?: "This is my own version of a 16-bar blues! Playing solo offers the advantage of playing 'free' as you might notice in this recording. However, I prefer to have it played according to its strucuture which is clearly stated in the first 16 bars of the tune."
9. Surrey with a fringe on top: "The bride and groom, in a Surrey, start out in fast pace then medium and finally slow tempo to a halt."

"Recently, I lost my Gibson guitar in a township mugging and I thought that was the end of everything. But someone lent me an Ibanez for this recording and I have been amazed by its performance. the 'Ibanez Artist' guitar was great, although I would have preferred a box guitar like my old Gibson". (from the cassette notes).

Allen Kwela died at the age of 63 on 1st July 2003.

A "Best of Allen Kwela" compilation CD issued by Sheer Sound is still available from Kalahari for ZAR72. It contains 13 tracks and you can audio-preview five of them.

The solo guitar tape can be downloaded as follows:
mediafire here
rapidshare here

Monday, 1 July 2013

Nick Moyake and the "Soul Jazzmen" (1965)

The core of what became the "Soul Jazzmen" at Salt River - Vuyiswa Ngcwangu (or possibly Nosisi Rululu),
 Duku Makasi, Dennis Mpale Nick Moyake, Psych Big T Ntsele, Tete Mbambisa: Pic Ian Bruce Huntley
This previously unreleased 1965 live recording at The Ambassador's in Woodstock Cape Town features the early foundations of what became the legendary “Soul Jazzmen” plus Dennis Mpale. Saxophonists Nick Moyake and Duku Makasi, drummer Peter Jackson jnr along with Psych Big T Ntsele on bass went on to form the Soul Jazzmen.

Nick Moyake, Dennis Mpale, Duku Makasi: Pic Ian Huntley
While Ian Huntley is not certain on who the female vocalist featured on this historic recording is, it seems to me this might well be Vuyiswa Ngcwangu, who also performed and recorded with the Soul Jazzmen at the “Mankunku Jazz Show” in May 1968. Vuysiwa and Tete Mbambisa became married in 1964. The only missing link in this recording is Tete Mbambisa, as Shakes Masdorph Mgudlwa is playing piano here. Shakes was originally from Flagstaff in the Transkei and was one of Tete Mbambisa's early mentors when he moved to East London.

Nick (Nikele) Moyake can be considered the 'g√≥dfather' in this band as it was him who taught both Duku Makasi and Dudu Pukwana to play saxophone. Johnny Dyani recalled Moyake as the influence in South Africa.

Mackay Davashe and Nik Moyake
Dorkay House 1966
Pic: Ian Huntley
Dennis Mpale, and to a lesser extent Nick Moyake, both had reputations of being self assured and not suffering perceived insults gladly. There are various legendary stories recorded of both musicians  getting bands into sticky situations with the police and anyone else in authority who they felt insulted by. They did have the musical abilities to match their confidence though. "The Mpale attitude" became a term used by local musicians. Moyake nearly got the Blue Notes locked up the night before their departure from South Africa because he gave a white policeman at a roadblock backchat and lip, telling him that he, Moyake, was more famous than the policeman.
There are sadly not many recordings of Nick Moyake. He features prominently with the Blue Notes on “Township Bop” (as does Dennis Mpale), and “Legacy: Live in South Africa”. Moyake’s life was cut short not long after returned to South Africa, having left  the Blue Notes in Europe during 1965. Nick Moyake was playing with the Soul Jazzmen when he died of what is said by some to be  a brain tumour. Vuyiswa Ngcwangu, during Lars Rasmussen's interview with Tete Mbambisa, reports that Moyake's death was precipitated by a three-day binge on pure alcohol given to the band in Alice by a medical student from the University of Fort Hare. (Jazz People of Cape Town pg. 150). Accounts of the year of his death vary from 1965 to 1969. It seems likely it was before Dennis Mpale's Soul Giants recorded "I Remember Nick" in 1968.

In her book on Chris McGregor and the Brotherhood of Breath, Maxine McGregor describes Moyake's playing as 'much more peaceful and laconic .. than Dudu, he was the master of creating an √°tmosphere'with his tenor, its soft mellow voice reminiscent of quiet places, walks by the riverside, golden afternoons. He was a complex person person, Nik, with his slow deep voice, his eyes soft, slanty, almond-shaped; looking deep into your eyes, he could talk you into almost anything."

Moyake's death reverberated among South African jazz lovers. Both Johnny Dyani and Dudu Pukwana composed songs entitled "Blues for Nick", Shakes Mgudllwa composed "Tribute to Nick", and in 1969 Dennis Mpale's Soul Giants recorded the album "I Remember Nick", which you can find here.

Nick Moyake at Dorkay House (1966).
Pic Ian Huntley
Ian Bruce Huntley made this recording at the Ambassador’s Club in Woodstock, Cape Town in late 1965 soon after Moyake had returned home. Captured on his Tandberg 6 reel-to-reel tape on a crowded stage, Ian had some challenges with where he could place his microphones, having some effect on the mix, and not giving full effect to the female vocalist.

Returning to issues of attitude and confidence, Johnny dyani relates a story in various documented interviews, Jurg Solothurnmann in 1983) and to Aryan Kaganof in 1985 interview  of Nick Moyake becoming angry with the way in which he felt treated by Wayne Shorter down at a party hosted by Dollar Brand in Zurich in 1965.  “I remember Nick in Zurich at Dollar’s party. Dollar invited the Miles Davis group rhythm section: Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, and Wayne Shorter. Nick told Wayne Shorter right in front of us when we were at that party, just pheww! That guy even today when he sees me, when he sees the Blue Notes, I wonder ’cos that guy might hate us or some shit because he cannot stand what Nick told him. Dollar said, ‘This is Nick Moyake.’ Nick holds this guy’s hand man. He holds it, grips it, and says, ‘You ain’t shit. What you play I played it before.’ And he holds his hand; the guy is pulling his hand! We were there in this party in Zurich. Dollar said, ‘How can you do this at my party, why you so rude to my guests?’ So Nick said, ‘He ain’t shit I played this before. He’s coming with an attitude.’ But WE! We were full of shit of man!”.
Vuyiswa 'Viva' Ngcwangu as she appears
on the Record sleeve of the
Winston Mankunku Show (1968)

Jurg Solothurnmann relates the same Dyani story as ".. somehow Nick was very annoyed, I don't know because of the attitude Wayne Shorter gave him or what. But I heard nick telling Wayne: "I used to play what you are playing". I knew he was very advanced, but I was shocked that he was aware of it and was speaking up even though he was very shy."(quoted in Lars Rasmussen's book on the photographs of Hardy Stockman).

In the late 1950s the Ambassadors School of Dancing in Woodstock (its original name) was home to a group of jazz musicians who regularly jammed there - including Chris McGregor, Cups and Saucers Nkanuka, Christopher Columbus Ngcukana, Dave Galloway, and Martin Mgijima. A year after the departure of the Blue Notes to Europe, the Ambassadors was still hosting amazing  sessions with the remaining stalwarts – including this one with the returned Blue Note, Nick Moyake.

You can find the original Soul Jazzmen recording of Inhlupekho here.

If you have not yet had chance to explore other Electric Jive postings from Ian Huntley's audio archive, the easiest way to do this is to use the search function on the right hand column of this blog. Search "IBH Jazz".

A full discography of Ian's 56-hour audio archive, and around 130 of Ian's photos will be published by Electric Jive as a non-profit tribute book at the end of this year. More details to follow.

"Soul Jazzmen" at The Ambassadors (1965)

Unknown female vocalist (possibly Vuyiswa Ngcwangu), Dennis Mpale (trumpet), Nik Moyake (sax), Duku Makasi (sax), Shakes Mgudlwa (piano), Psych Big T Ntsele (bass), Peter Jackson Jnr. (drums)

1. Milestones (13:13)

2. Unidentified track (14:48)

3. Track 3 - unidentified  (3:19)

4. Track 4 - unidentified (8:10)

5. Love for Sale (3:42)

6. 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered' (Rodgers & Hart). (5:21)
 
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