Sunday 12 June 2011

Soul and funk with Teaspoon Ndelu (1981)

Today we're delving into a tasty mix of soul, funk and mbaqanga with the late saxophone legend Teaspoon Ndelu and his second solo album, Ke Kopa Madulo, produced by Marks Mankwane and released on the Hit Special label in 1981.

Ndelu was a veteran of the studio, particularly at Mavuthela, where his sweet sax harmonies often appeared on singles bearing names such as "Teaspoon and His 'T' Boys" or "Teaspoon and The Waves". He also collaborated with fellow sax jiver West Nkosi on many of the "mabone" singles of the early 1970s.

In the words of the liner notes, written by The Sowetan's Elliot Makhaya: "Teaspoon Ndelu is a high functionary of music idioms... throughout the years he has poured some of the most fascinating music ever squeezed from a saxophone. His music provides the ear with bouquets while driving ya into tunnels of harmony and mountains of rhythms in a red-hot molten tempo. With a minimum of notes, Teaspoon Ndelu can stamp his identity on a performance, even if he's present only to play an obbligato behind a vocalist."

Ndelu's own, talented skills were finally spotlighted with the release of his first solo albums in the early 1980s. This, the second of those albums, contains four songs and a rich collection of sounds. Teaspoon is backed by a talented team of studio musicians. To open the album, we are greeted first with a modern drum beat, before a sweet mbaqanga underscore makes a subdued entrance in the title track "Ke Kopa Madulo". A trio of alto saxes jumpstarts the song and before long, we are thrown calls and phrases from a plethora of singers, one of them Teaspoon himself. "Disco Funk", track two, is very much a product of the increasing Westernisation of South African music at the time - but gives one a great insight into how well versed Teaspoon and the other Mavuthela musicians were at playing vastly different styles of music.

The talented Mr. Ndelu is backed by an uncredited studio team put together by producer Marks Mankwane. Though the members are uncredited, the band is almost certainly "The Beggers" (yes, with an "e"...). The Beggers was Mankwane's tight instrumental unit that backed his Mavuthela acts (Walter Dlamini, Mahotella Queens, etc.) from 1977 to 1983.

The Beggers consisted of: Marks Mankwane (lead guitar), Michael Nyembe (lead/rhythm guitar), Mzwandile David (bass guitar), Michael Stoffel (drums), and Thamie Xongwana (organ) ... and the female vocals as heard on three of the four tracks of Ke Kopa Madulo are almost certainly then-regular members of Mankwane's Mahotella Queens. Well, why not - they were on hand!

Ke Kopa Madulo... a truly tasty mix of music. Download and get funky - enjoy!

KE KOPA MADULO (Teaspoon Ndelu)
Hit Special HIL 2002


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