Wednesday 28 October 2009

Pre-bop fifties Joburg Jazz Jukebox

A delightful and historically important compilation of early fifties township jazz - close-part harmonies, yodelling cowboy Tim Mkize, the Lo Six, Havana Swingsters, a little penny-whistling, and a great Dolly Rathebe track from the 1949 movie “Jim comes to Joburg”. And how about the sultry voice of Martha Mdenge – phew! (Read Janet Suzman on Martha Mdenge here).

The absence of a date anywhere on this publication is not inconsistent with the patronising otherness of the sleeve-note author. Simultaneously detached from the creators but intimately engaged with their products, there is an informed commentary on each song – my guess would be that this compilation was targeted to catch the ‘temporary’ wave of British audiences who were queuing to see the touring production of King Kong. Perhaps the record companies did not see the need for a date as they did not foresee any sustained international interest in African music? How wrong some of them still are.
1. Kalla’s Special : Spokes Mashiyane
2. Habotle Rebobakate : Lo Six
3. Ematyeni : The Royal Players
4. Icingo : The Harmony Crotchets
5. Ekuseni: Martha Mdenge and the Black Four
6. Madlamini: Timothy Umlaba Mkize
7. I’ll never say never again: Simon ‘Blues’ Ntaba and the Harmony Crotchets
8. In the Mood : Pietersburg Star Boys
9. Nansi Van Enkulu: African Mills Brothers
10. Mzala: Havana Swingsters
11. Mpefumlo Wami: King Cole Boogies
12. Nozizwe: Dolly Rathebe with the African Inkspots

Thank you Jonathan Eato in York (UK) for sharing this vinyl. Jonathan is in the process of developing the Jazz in South Africa (JISA) research pages - have a look.

updated link Oct 2015 here


  1. For so many years I've wanted to explore South African music. Thank you for this wonderful blog. It's really great. Cheers. Cole

  2. Many thanks for the joyous sounds!

  3. This blog is really nice. I am loving the South African Jazz sound and appreciate your introduction to more.
    Saigon, VN

  4. Nice search. Malinke jasi could figure in your posts too.
    Delightfully Joburg Jazz Jukebox.
    Dig mine:

  5. You say "The absence of a date anywhere on this publication...", but various other site precisely date its release to April 4, 1959 -- see for example and and

    I have no idea from whence they got this exact date for the release, but it seems believable, judging from the album design etc. Plus, on the back cover they sort of imply that 1949 was a long time ago, which wouldn't make sense if the record is from the early '50s.

    However, your notes here say that it's a "compilation of early fifties township jazz," which may also be true -- they could have been compiled in 1959. But how in the world can one determine the exact release date of each song if they are indeed from the early '50s? I can't really find any info about any of these songs other than their presence on this compilation record, except for Spokes' "Kalla Special" being from 1955, according to flatint's amazing Spokes Mashiyane discography ( Aide from that, I'm just going to have to reluctantly date each song as being from 1959, even though they'e probably from earlier, unless someone can point the way to info about their original release dates!

    Oh, and -- nice upload! Thanks!

  6. maybe I am tired and it is the end of the year, but sometimes we just have to let go and accept that there cannot be certainty on an exact date, and enjoy the music. Best wishes to all - Cheers

  7. Hi Chris, thanks for the link, i just wanted to check with you, i tried download it from rapidhare, even the download link but it says that the url is wrong or the file might be deleted, please advice

    1. Thanks for the heads-up .. I have made a note to re-fresh the link, and will do so as soon as I can. Chris

    2. link is updated - 30 Sept 2015. Chris


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