Monday 3 December 2012
Baba "Themba" Mokoena - Themba (1976)
The Soweto uprisings of 1976 were a turning point in South Africa's history, leading to the ascendency of the African National Congress and PW Botha's political-military council as opponents in the battle that would wage through the country until the late 1980s. It was also an incredibly fertile year for jazz, as this album by Themba Mokoena illustrates. These were exciting times, as Abdullah Ibrahim and his wife Sathima Bea Benjamin had returned to record a seminal series of works including Mannenberg, Soweto, African Herbs and African Songbird. Rashid Vally was putting up studio time for jazz musicians such as Dick Khoza, Pops Mohammed, The Beaters, Pat Matshikiza, Tete Mbambisa, Kippie Moeketsi and others to lay down their inspirations. Other producers such as David Thekwane, Hamilton Nzimande and others were also not far behind mining the long grooves of bump-jive and piano led 15 minute jams echoing the single sided LP jazz grooves of Mannenberg etc.
But the optimism of the burgeoning jazz scene soon evaporated under the waves of repression and the evaporation of venues in which to practice and play. The commercial realities of venues that were regularly targetted by authorities for allowing mixed audiences and articulating a different vision of the future were tough.
As compiled on the Strut Next Stop Soweto Vol 3 - Giants, Ministers and Makers here is the complete album recorded under Themba Mokoena's first name. No surprises if the participants were the house band from the Pelican.
Themba - Themba (Soweto SWA 14017)
1. Themba Themba
2. Ou Kaas
3. Fana Fana
4. Macs Secret