Sunday 13 September 2009

‘Township Mshovo’ and ‘Groovin’ one-two from Big Voice Jack

Staying with the mbaqanga roots theme season, here’s a one-two from Big Voice Jack Lerole, another foundation member of mbaqanga’s genesis. Township Mshovo, with the ‘Old City Jazzsters’ leans towards the marabi side with a smattering of ‘tiekie-draai’ and a healthy dose of sax jive – playing music originating from the 1960s, but recorded in 1988.

‘Groovin’ is a “retrospective” offering probably from the 80s (before Lerole joined Mango Groove). On the back cover Lerole suggests it would be his last recording. Some of you might remember the very popular 12 inch that Shifty issued of the Joburg City All-Stars – “Groovin Jive Number One”? Well – Groovin here might sound familiar, if just a little older.
Lerole emerged as a pennywhistle player of note in the 1950s and was one of the first to switch to saxophone in the mid-sixties as mbaqanga really began to take off. Big Voice Jack travelled a long path from being at the genesis of a musical movement in the streets of Alexandra in the 1950s, to playing a crowd of 80 000 people at the Giants Stadium in New York with the Dave Matthews Band in 1998. He died at the age of 63 in 2003.
You can read more about this fascinating man and his story here: and here:


  1. Thanks for the great music and the interesting links. By the way, the back sleeve of the first lp, "Tonship Mshovo", says it was recorded in '88, not the 60s.
    More more more!

  2. Thanks David for the encouragement - plenty more to come. As for the date of recording - I still suspect that it was in the 60s as this was when Big Jack was contracted to Teal. I believe the record was a re-release in 1988 of a recording made much earlier. Anyone else have more info?

  3. @fortherecord: I think David is correct. Big Voice Jack had started to fall out with Mango Groove by then and was encouraged to record with his own band. The record sleeve and label clearly show a 1988 date with no evidence of it being a reissue (some reissues in South Africa publish the reissue date which can cause some confusion, especially with SOuth African jazz releases)

  4. We all learn - thank you for the inputs - text has been amended - now my 'want' lists includes finding something Big Voice Jack recorded in the 50s and 60s

  5. Big Voice And Old City Jazz-sters - awesome!


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