Tuesday 22 November 2011

Pennywhistle and Sax Kwela

Staying within the timeframes of the ‘Vukani’ movie posting, and picking up on the pennywhistle music showcased in it,  it is time again to share some great pennywhistle and sax kwela. While the music was a major cross-over success in South Africa, it did not do much to ‘educate’ its white promoters seeking to make a quick buck by issuing an LP targeted at the white audience at the time. More is written in an earlier posting about kwela and racial identity here
The back cover of this fine record reads as follows:

“The flageolet or fipple flute is a cylindrical pipe fitted with a whistle mouthpiece at one end and open at the other.  It is pierced with holes, so spaced that when stopped with the fingers, and opened in succession from the bottom, while at the same time blowing into the mouthpiece, a major scale is produced.  As with all cylindrical pipes the instrument overblows a twelth ...
“The African doesn’t know all this data, he just calls it a pennywhistle, and blows “lo jive” on it “fanakola record pakati”.

“The African has made the pennywhistle his own, and tens of thousands of flute jive records sold every week testify to its tremendous popularity. There has been considerable demand amongst Europeans  for these records and to help meet the demand, the more convenient form of LP has been compiled.
“Perhaps this interest in Bantu Pennywhistle Jazz is not so strange when it is considered what remarkable sounds the best of its exponents are able to coax from an instrument of such extreme limitations.

“The artists heard on this selection are among the cream of the Pennywhistle Players, and the technique that they obtain on these simple instruments is truly remarkable. Included on the album are also a few tracks featuring the saxophone, another instrument that the African is showing remarkable aptitude for.
“Well, there it is ... Flageolet, Fipple Flute, or Pennywhistle ....  it is good dance music in anyone’s language.”
1.       First Stop Dube:  Abia Themba and Michael Sithole
2.       Mr Balla’s Best: Abia Themba
3.       Sideways Jive:  The Gumba Gumba Guys
4.       The New Look: Abia Themba and His Rhythm
5.       Two Steps Parys: Jacob Khotle
6.       Abantwana Ba Seven:  David Thekwane
7.       Old Krok Special:  Frans Mudau
8.       Blues Ngaphanzi:  Jake Lerole and His Rhythm
9.       Lucky Number Seven: Albert Ralulimi and Son
10.   Radio Announcers Kwela: Frans Mudau
11.   Emalhleni: The Gumba Gumba Guys
12.   Fairlane 600: Frans Mudau

More Kwela on Electric Jive can be found here and here

Today’s offering can be downloaded:

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here


  1. Thanks Chris for sharing another gem.


  2. Hey Chris help a brother out. I have been looking for where I could purchase a kwela pennywhistle
    a key of G
    E flat
    B flat
    C (and any other keys)
    I used to play in a Kwela band when I was younger and would like to purchase the instrument.Thanks for gem you post, I'm hooked

  3. Hi Mazwi - I do not know the answer - but I will try and find out.

  4. Hi Mazwi - a quick check via google shows that pennywhistles are still pretty easy to get hold of - try http://impempewhistles.co.za/index.php, Good luck

  5. I wonder if anyone can help me... is Frans Mudau the guy that recorded under the name McMillan & his Men? Would surely like to know if this is true. Music greetings!

  6. Howzit Chris, I'm looking for a pic of Abia Themba, can you assit? Thanks


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