Wednesday 30 December 2009

Sikalo: Sixties South Africa Jazz and Gospel Musicals

Another synchronous find from my recent ‘sleeveless’ dig: Gibson Kente’s successful and trend-setting 1966 musical Sikalo – deliciously laced with jazz and gospel dished up by the likes of Margaret M'cingana (Singana) and saxophonist Henry Sithole. My joy in finding these records was only slightly tempered by them being without covers which might have told us a little more.

UPDATE: Thanks Siemon for the covers:

Kente (1932 – 2004) is remembered as the father of South Africa’s Black Theatre. In the 1950s he was a talent scout for the Gallo music company. Inspired by King Kong, he founded a theater business in the early 1960s His first play was Manana, the Jazz Prophet (1963). The second, shared here today in two different versions, changed the course of black South African theatre. The music from Sikalo became highly popular and the play set the standard for the basic formula for township musicals.
Kente is credited with training more than 400 artists and producing 30 plays and three television dramas before his death from Aids in 2003. Read more on Kente here:

Two versions of this musical emerged in 1967 as the white-run Union Artists South Africa that were part-financing the musical decided that Director Kente be replaced by Marshall Mosia. Kente went his own way and toured with his own more successful version of the musical. Both versions were released on one CD, but are now long out of print. Herewith the original LPs.

Download Sikalo 1

Wednesday 16 December 2009

King’s Messengers Quartet: Five Albums

UPDATE: 5th June 2017

Sad news received via Althian Alexander and Mokale Kaopeng is that Washington Sixolo passed away on 4th June 2017. Rest in peace Sir.

Althian sent this picture of the Kings Messengers Quartet meeting with Zambian President at the time, Kenneth Kaunda, saying that once President Kaunda heard a recording of the KMQ, he arranged a fully paid trip for them to Zambia so that he could hear them perform live.

Kenneth Kaunda is on the left, and Washington Sixolo is third from the left:

A fifth recording of the King's Messengers Quartet is now added to this page (26 August 2012). "More Songs with the Kings Messengers Quartet" was their third album, after "Soul of Africa" and "Precious Moments". It features songs focussing on the Christian faith sung in English, Zulu and Sotho, including Christmas Carols, and Nkosi Sikelela I Africa (in Zulu) and Morena Boloka (in Sotho).

Judging by the number of requests and visits to this page, the recordings of this extraordinary group remain hugely popular in southern Africa. Another recording has been found - so, do page down and feel free to download the 1967 "Spiritual Revival" (Motella label LMO 105).

There are now five records available for download on this page - just click on the word "HERE" where it says "LINK: HERE" below, and follow the links, click on green download symbol on the website. Once you have the file on your computer you will need to "unzip" it. It is compressed using .rar - you can get "winrar" for free from HERE it will unpack your file for you. Once it is unpacked you just double-click on the individual songs and they should play on your computer.

More Songs with the Kings Messengers Quartet

1. Praise God, From whom all blessings flow (Zulu - English)
2. No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus (English)
3. My Jesus I Love Thee (Zulu)
4. Somebody Cares (English)
5. Hark The Herald Angels Sing (English - Zulu)
6. A Mighty Fortress Is our God (English)
7. Christ The Lord is Risen Today (English)
8. While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks By Night (English)
9. I Wont Have to Cross Jordan Alone (English)
10. Sing Them Over Again To Me (Zulu)
11. Just a Little Talk With Jesus (English)
12. They Led Him Away (English)
13. There Is a Green Hill Far Away (English)
14. Nkosi Sikelela I Africa (Zulu)
15. Morena Boloka (Sotho)
Download HERE

Birth of our King

Contemplative, harmonic, soothing South African Christmas singing on the “Black Music” label.

1. Mamelang Manstwe
2. Tlong Bana
3. Kganye Ya Naledi
4. Ke Mmoloko Jesu
5. Oh come all ye faithful
6. Silent Night
7. Once in Royal David’s Cuity
8. Christ is Born
9. There’s a song in the air
10. While Shepherds Watch their flocks by night
11. Showers of Blessings
12. Blessed Assurance

Produced by Hansford Mthembu
1983 CCP Records Black Music BMC 559

MORE: There are a surprising number of people throughout Africa who google the Kings Messenger's Quartet and land up at ElectricJIve. More than 2800 people have visited this page  (by mid August  2012). Many people have asked if there is more available. Commercially, very little. The following 1964 recording of the group contains explicit Christian Religious content, sung all in English. It is the second ever recording of the group formed by Billy Mahlalela at the Bethel College in Butterworth (Eastern Cape) in 1954. All of the group are/were members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and specialise in singing Hymns and Spirituals. The other members of the group on this recording are: Paul Kote; Norman Dube and Washington Sixolo.

MORE: Following further requests by visitors, the First LP by the Kings Messesngers Quartet - "Soul of Africa" - is now available for download. This LP is a collection of all 14 of the songs they released in the 1950s on 78rpm records. The sound quality of the LP digitised here is excellent. Enjoy!

Spiritual Revival is a 1967 LP:
First Tenor: Norman Dube;
Second Tenor: Palmer Paul Kote:
Baritone and Principle Arranger: Gift S. Makapela:
Bass: Washington Sixolo

Sunday 13 December 2009

Assagai: Zimbabwe (1971)

This 1971 prog-rock offering by Assagai includes one of my favourite voices, Martha Mdenge. A follow-up to their self-titled debut album, "Zimbabwe" showcases some of South Africa’s best exile musicians at the time – Dudu Pukwana, Louis Moholo and the special trumpeter, Mongezi Feza. It also features some cover songs and musical back-up from Vertigo “stable-mates” Jade Warrior,

Zimbabwe was released on the Philips label, and then re-issued some years later on the MFP label with the name “Afro-Rock”.

More info on Jade Warrior and Assagai here.

From the back cover: “In recording this second album its been a pleasure once again with such rated musicians as Louis Moholo (drums) Dudu Pukwana (Alto/Piano) Mongezi Feza (Trumpet) Terri Quaye (Congas) and Bizo Mngikana (tenor).

"New members to the band are Smiley de Jonnes (congas/percussion) and Fred Fredericks (tenor/baritone) and Martha Mdenge who writes and sings some nice African folk songs.

"Thanks to fellow Vertigo artists Jade Warrior for strumming, picking, banging and blowing along, not to mention writing and arranging a few steamers.

"Recorded at Nova Sound Studios and Engineered by Richard Dodds. Produced by Dave Watson for Normal Associates. Sleeve Designed and drawn by Roger Dean."

1. Baranzibar (Havard)
2. Wanga (Mdenge)
3. La La (Mdenge)
4. Dalani (Pukwana)
5. Bayeza (Mdenge)
6. Sanga (Field)
7. Come Along (Mdenge)
8.Kinzambi (Duhig)
Philips 6308 079

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Malompo Jazz (c 1967)

Well, here is that elusive and rare Malompo Jazz LP in which Lucas (Lucky) Ranku stands in for Philip Tabane, who had fallen out with Julian Bahula and Abbey Cindi at the time.

Do have a look at Matsuli’s Malombo Discography here: This recording is perhaps more important as an historical milestone, than for any ground-breaking musical content. You be the judge.

From the back cover: “ABBEY CINDI is a Pretorian Fingo and he leads the trio. He is 27 years old and a batchelor. He is an unassuming man who is dedicated to the flute which he plays with astounding ability and feeling. In this LP he also plays the harmonica and makes wonderful improvisations with talks in “Abbey’s Mood” with it. In this track Abbey certainly excels himself. He also does the singing in “Zimbababelo.

“JULIAN BAHULE is 27 years old and is of Pedi origin. Always serious when pounding the malombo drums, he takes you through a maze of moods which range from deep sadness and whirl up to an ecstasy which usually leaves the listener way up in the clouds. The Julian, the frugally –composed near-genius, will tell you that he had been chasing an elusive ghost while he was pounding the malombo drums.

“This is his second LP with ABBEY CINDI. In the first, under the banner of THE MALOMBO JAZZ MEN jockeyed by the ace guitarist, PHILLIP TABANE, they had six tracks in the “1964 JAZ FESTIVAL WINNERS” collector’s album.

"LUCAS RANKU in this soulful session replaces Phillip who broke off from the original Malombos on guitar. Lucas was “discovered” by Abbey while he was strumming his guitar at a party in Vlakfontein, Pretoria a few weeks after the Tabane walk-out. He immediately recongised his potentialities and asked him to join his group which was in need of a guitarist. Lucas did himself proud after a number of rehearsals.

"In this sitting there is a vocalist HILDA TLOUBATLA, of the MOTELLA QUEENS, belting a catchy tune called “Jikeleza”.

"The MALOMBO JAZZMAKERS are really cut out to be on top of the jazz scene for quite some time.

“World” Jazz Critic,"

All tracks composed by Abbey Cindi.
1. Abbey’s Mood
2. Lullaby for Angels
3. Grab this for me
4. Emakhaya
5. Blues after lunch
6. Babelo
7. Intandane
8. A Tribute to Birds
9. Root of Africa
10. Vuma Mbari
11. Lousy Fever
12. Jikeleza

Gallotone GALP 1464
Thanks to Tony McGregor for making this recording available.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Stay on top with “The Syndicate” (1975)

Graduating with Soul 103, the Syndicate dish up mellow mid-tempo “jive lounge” instrumentals just right for a Sunday afternoon’s relaxing. Groovy keyboard work with sax and guitar explorations.
The fourth track "Lerato" was written by Selby Ntuli, who was band leader and co-founder of the Beaters and Harari with Hotstix Mabuse. Ntuli died in 1978.

Matt over at Matsuli in London has agreed to help us offload our few extra copies we have of these three Syndicate vinyls – international parcel postage from South Africa has become prohibitive, and so we have set up a sporadic vinyl exchange and courier service via travelling friends. Any South Africa-based readers who are interested in purchasing unplayed warehouse copies of these records give me a shout at: recordforthe at gmail dot com. Exchange and barter would be good to. First come first served.

1. Pezulu (8.35) The Wanders
2. Khona Part 1 (2.28) M. Mhlanga
3. Khona Part 2 (2.29) M. Mhlanga
4. Lerato (9.07) Selby Ntuli
5. Dithabeng (9.25) M. Mhlanga

Produced and Arranged by Martin Mdelwa Mhlanga - A Sweet City Production

Friday 4 December 2009

Keep on Bumping with the Syndicate (1975)

On this Soul 102 offering of suspected moonlighting musicians the sax player on the first track sounds like Mike Makhalemele. Following the first long and groovy first bump track, there is a dose of soul from the pen of Babsy Mlangeni. 'Movin out', written by Zane Cronje, Pacific Expresse's keyboard player and composer, moves deeper into funk territory with plenty of waa waa guitar. The fourth track (‘Safa Saphela’) is a bumping funky cover of Johnny Nash’s 1974 hit ‘The Look in Your Eyes’ – written by Emmanuel Rentzos.

Soul 103 to follow in a little while

1. Keep on Bumping (15.00) M. Mhlanga
2. Thekeni (3.00) B. Mlangeni, H. Lebona
3. Movin' Out (8.00) Z. Cronje
4. Safa Saphela (8.00). E. Rentzos

Produced by Martin Mdelwa Mhlanga
Engineer: Peter Ceronia
A Sweet City Production (1975).

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Watch out for "The Syndicate" (1975)

Bump, funk, afro-soul, and general get-up-and-groove kicks off ElectricJive’s festive season offerings in a quick-fire triple posting – Soul Brother 101, 102, 103.

Here’s a shady group of hot anonymous South African musicians moonlighting away from their usual recording contracts for producer Martin Mhlanga on the Soul Brother label.

Soul 101:- a solid fifteen minutes of bump jive followed by a deep funky nineteen-minute groove featuring top organ, guitar, trumpet and sax solos. Could that be Kippie we hear on the sax? Alan Kwela on the guitar? And that trumpet? Who knows – whoever they were, they could groove.

Talking about moonlighting anonymous musicians, Dabulamanzi tells me he has now worked out that the “Monwabisi” on our earlier Remember District Six posting, was indeed Winston Mankunku Ngozi himself!

Soul Brother 102 and 103:- to follow over the next few days.

Introducing: Syndicate
Africa’s ‘Bump’ Kings

1. Thula Mabota (14.55)
2. Watch Out (18.34)

Produced by Martin Mdelwa Mhlangu

Soul Brother: Soul 101 (1975).