Saturday 28 November 2009

All aboard the Pacific Express

Cape Town's answer to Earth Wind and Fire with one of their sadly out of print LPs from the late seventies. They recorded three LPs - On Time, Expressions and Black Fire - which have been anthologised on two CD compilations put out by Mountain Records in Cape Town. The track "The Way It Used To Be" also appeared on the Africa Underground (Counterpoint Records) and African Disco (Nascente) compilations issued in Europe.

Pacific Express - Expressions (GULP903, 1979)
1. Look at the Smile
2. You've Got It All
3. Funky Sounds
4. Come True
5. Express
6. When I Think
7. What Is The Answer
8. Tired of Being Alone
9. What I Feel
10, She's Gone

Paul Abrahams (bass), Zayn Adams (vocals & percussion), Jonathan Butler (vocals & guitar), Tony Cedras (keyboards & trumpet), Jack Momple (drums & percussion). With guests: Barney Rachabane, Stompie Manana & Tully McCully. Recorded in Cape Town May-July 1979, produced by Tully McCully.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Sukasambe Seventies South African Soul Hits

This compilation of rather special South African 1974/75 Soul Hits is gleaned from two records on the Ring Label that revealed themselves to me on a dig last week. Under a stack of disused theatre seats there was this leaning tower of sleeveless dusty LPs. A fun weekend of cleaning, digitising and a little splicing brings you this soulful South African soundtrack , especially for one of those lazy days off work. Ring were targeting a diverse South African “soul-craving” public who, despite apartheid boycotts in the 1970s, were still getting visits from the likes of Tina Turner, Doby Gray, and Percy Sledge. These Ring compilations sprinkled in some international hits, but this mix focuses mostly on those composed by South Africans – see label pics for details. Not being in possession of the record covers I am unable to tell you who the performers are, except that the band was called "The Moonlight Expressions" – all help and suggestions are most welcome – please! What I am sure of is that there is an appreciable South African audience who, if they were to hear this compilation, will be transported back through an intense and soulfully ingrained lost sound-track from their lives.
1. Intro from 1975 record
2. My Friend
3. Nomali
4. Julia
5. Say It
6. Preacher Man
7. Lorraine
8. My Girl
9. Hot Coffee
10. Hot Tea
11. Tau Special
12. I’ll Take You There
13. Change My Mind

Mediafire download link HERE

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Getting Funky with the Cannibals

Back into the Soweto Soul groove with this 1979 outing Get Funky from Ray Phiri's group The Cannibals. Phiri was to later form the group Stimela and work with Paul Simon on the Gracelands project. The Get Funky LP was recorded soon after untimely death of Jacob Radebe aka Mpharanyana's in 1979. No-one, not even the Cannibals, were quite able to fill the gap left by his passing. Enjoy!
The Cannibals - Get Funky (BL213, 1979)
1. Get Funky
2. Tell Every Mother
3. Angelina
4. I Want to Preach Love
5. Hlokomela
Produced by Marks Mankwane
Paul Ndlovu (vocals), Isaac Mtshali (drums), Ray Phiri (guitar), Richard Shongwe (bass), Anna Sikwane (vocals), Ephraim Hlophe (keyboard)


Friday 13 November 2009

Morris Goldberg's Urban Jazz Band (1975)

When talking of Cape Jazz pioneers Morris Goldberg’s name is usually mentioned in the same sentence along with Dollar Brand and Chris McGregor. This gem was recorded in 1975 when Goldberg was visiting South Africa from his New York base. Both Goldberg and percussionist Monty Weber were part of the “Manenburg” legend. Goldberg was the third saxophone player whose name does not appear on the cover credits. Read some of the back-story here.

Strangely, this record does not feature on Goldberg’s own discography. You can read more about Morris Goldberg and his band Ojoyo here.
Thank you Tony McGregor for making this album available for sharing.

Produced by Morris Goldberg and David Bravo. Recorded at U.C.A. studios Loop Street, Cape Town, April 1975. ATC 8000

1. Woo Woo (Bravo)
2. Urban Jazz Suite (Bravo, Goldberg) – runs on into “That’s What the Old Lady Said”
3. When She Kissed the Spanish Cow (Bravo)
4. Dance 4.3 (Goldberg)
5. Tina (Bravo).

Marc Duby: Bass
Cecil Ricca: Drums
Monty Weber: Congas, Timbales and Percussion
Morris Goldberg: Alto and soprano sax and clarinet
David Bravo: Acoustic and Electric Piano

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Soul "ahem" Man Mpharanyana

"To the East of Johannesburg in Kathlehong, Germiston The Wavelets backed one of the most powerful voices in township soul - Jacob Radebe aka Mpharanyana. Some of the members of this band were Lloyd Lelosa who would later be a diligent producer and Stimela's keyboardist. Their hits includes Se Di Tsebise Mary and So Dull Without Here. In fact, Mpharanyana's career was mainly associated with three bands: The Peddlars of Springs, the Wavelets of Kathlehong and The Cannibals, whose members included Raymond Chikapa Phiri and Isaac "Mnca" Mtshali from Nelspruit. Most of Mpharanyana's hits were in Sesotho...One of the musicians who used to attend his recording sessions told me what I always thought was "style" was actually a coughing problem. The tape would be stopped so many times during recording sessions for him to cough, until one day his producer West decided he should just cough within the songs. To most people it became his trade mark." Max Mojapelo from his book Beyond Memory: Reording the History, moments and Meories of SOuth African Music
(The Peddlers later backed Dick Khoza on his seminal Chapita LP for the AsShams label.


Saturday 7 November 2009

The birth of Heshoo Beshoo

Tony McGregor spent Friday with bassist Ernest Mothle at a Pretoria memorial tribute gig to Winston Mankunku Ngozi. Tony was not sure that the version published by ElectricJive below was quite as he heard it, so he asked Ernie for his recollection of how Heshoo Beshoo were formed. Here is the story:  Ernest Mothle Playing at the Mankunku tribute in Pretoria (6th November) Pic: Tony McGregor.

The band Heshoo Beshoo grew out of a great friendship. formed in the home of jazz promoter and founder of the Johannesburg Jazz Appreciation Society, Ray Nkwe.

After the recording of Yakhal' inKomo, Mankunku Ngozi stayed on in Johannesburg at Nkwe's house and there Ernest Mothle, Cyril Magubane and drummer Gilbert Matthews used to hang out to listen to the rich collection of jazz albums that Nkwe had, courtesy of the record companies, especially RCA, who sent him albums to review.

Meanwhile Abdullah Ibrahim, on his first visit back to South Africa, had a gig at the Mofolo Hall in Soweto, for which he needed some supporting musicians. Ernest, Cyril, Mankunku and Gilbert were hired for the gig. For Ernest it was a life-changing moment. “I have never seen anything like it in South Africa – the musicians were actually crying on stage,” Ernest says of the gig. “It was very, very powerful.”

Ray Nkwe then teamed Gilbert and Mankunku up with the Schilder brothers from Cape Town to record the famous album Spring (This album has been put together with Yakhal' inKomo in re-issues).

To keep the band going, Ernest and Cyril then asked the Sithole brothers, Henry and Stanley, as well as Nelson Magwaza, to join them. This band was then named Heshoo Beshoo, with Ernest handling the business side of things and Cyril doing most of the composing.

The band played around Fordsburg in Johannesburg for a while and were heard by John Norwell who's father was on the board of EMI. He was looking for music of substance to record in South Africa but the company was more geared to the pop side. Norwell almost got fired for recording a jazz album. Norwell took the band into the studio and recorded the album released as Armitage Road.

Four of the five tracks on Armitage Road were composed by Cyril, the exception being “Wait and See” which was composed by Henry Sithole.

After the recording was released the band struggled to get paid, apparently because of internal disputes about it within EMI.

Ultimately Ernest went to the EMI offices and threatened to put a lawyer onto them, even though he had no money to pay a lawyer and didn't know a lawyer he could ask to act for them

Walking back down Eloff Street Ernest saw a lawyer's shingle and went into the office. He found that the lawyer had just set up his practice and Ernest was his first client. The lawyer offered to take on the case free. He wrote a letter to EMI which resulted in the band's fee being paid very quickly.
LINK to Arimtage Road.

Crossing the Road with Heshoo Beshoo

What a melting pot this country really is – past and present; people and places; seemingly fleeting, but unknowingly permanent, at least until the wheel turns again.

South African Jazz Classic Armitage Road makes all these connections, and endures. The only surviving member of this special band is bass player Ernest Shololo Mothle who played with Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath throughout the 1980s. Ernest is back in South Africa. ElectricJive is thrilled to hear how happy Ernest was to get a copy of the musical Phiri that Tony McGregor downloaded from this site. Ernest had apparently not heard Phiri since he went into exile shortly after recording it in 1972. Thank you Ernest for all your great music!
Picture of Ernest Mothle by Tony McGregor
Tony tells a great story about Armitage Road and Ernest Mothle here.

Gwen Ansell describes another set of connections that Armitage Road makes: being “informed by both American and South African styles and influences. In short it straddles early hard bop and danceable South African jazz.”

In comments to the previous short-lasting posting of this recording on Matsuli, Siemon Allen pointed out the clear visual reference to the Beatles’ album Abbey Road. “What I like about the cover is that when juxtaposed with "Abbey Road" it becomes a critique of the social conditions in South Africa at that time without overtly mentioning Apartheid and running the risk of being banned. Certainly showing Cyril Magubane (who was struck with polio) crossing the road in his wheelchair amplifies the difference between the world of Armitage Road and that of Abbey Road."

This is what else the Matsuli post had to say: The group was put together by saxophonist Henry Sithole who started out playing jazz with Dalton Khanyile's Keynotes in 1964 before playing in Gibson Kente's musical Sikalo; thereafter with Almon's Jazz 8 and Mackay Davashe's Jazz Dazzlers. In 1969 Henry recruited Ernest Mothle on bass, Nelson Magwaza on drums, Cyril Magubane on guitar and his brother Stanley on tenor for the Heshoo Beshoo Group.

Heshoo Beshoo means moving forward with force. On so many levels this recording is a strong statement of self determination, creativity and freedom in the midst of the brutual subjugation of black South Africans by the Apartheid government. The LP had a limited release in South Africa as well as a subsequent release in France.

In 1971 Henry and Stanley were approached by guitarist Adolphus "Bunny" Luthuli to get a band together to compete in the Alco Best Band Competition at Jabulani Stadium in April 1971. Bunny had played with Henry in Almon's Jazz 8. This approach was the genesis of South Africa's greatest soul jazz band The Drive comprising the Sithole brothers Henry, Danny and Stanley, Bunny Luthuli, Mike Makhalemele, Lucky Mbatha, Nelson Magwaza and Anthony Saoli.

The Drive won the Alco competition and stayed together touring throughout Southern Africa. In 1972 they won best band at the PINA CULO festival in Umgababa in September 1972. The band unfortunately suffered a tragedy in May 1977 when Bunny Luthuli and Henry Sithole were killed outright in a car accident in the Tzaneen area of Nothern Transvaal.

Today Nelson Magwaza and Ernest Mothle are both musicians who command serious respect for their contribution to the rich tapestry of South African Jazz and popular music. The old slogan the struggle for jazz - jazz for the struggle rings true once more; only today this struggle is as much about memory as it is about change.

The Heshoo Beshoo Group - Armitage Road (1971, JLP 4021)
1. Armitage Road
2. Wait and See
3. Amakhaya
4. Amabutho
5. Lazy Bones
Henry Sithole (alto sax), Stanley Sithole (tenor sax), Cyril Magubane (guitar), Nelson Magwaza (drums), Ernest Mothle (bass). Produced and engineered by John Norwell.

Monday 2 November 2009

Our Boys Are Doing It

This one has been on our radar for some time. The record was a direct response to Hugh Masekela's LP "The Boy Is Doing It" (Check it here), recorded in Lagos in 1975. Three great tunes featuring legendary South African sax player Kippie Moeketsi. Enjoy.

Dennis Mpale, Kippie Moeketsi and the Boys - Our Boys Are Doing It (MERCURY, STAR206, 1977)
1. Our Boys Are Doing It
2. Dennis Groove
3. Orlando
Dennis Mpale (trumpet & leader), Kippie Moeketsi (alto sax) and the Boys. All compositions by Dennis Mpale.