Monday 11 March 2013

The Jazz Disciples - Cape Town 1964

Dennis Mpale, Barney Rachabane (18yrs) Ronnie Beer. Pic: Ian Bruce Huntley
In May 1964 "The Jazz Disciples" went into Cape Town's SABC studios to record for Radio Bantu, without Ronnie Beer. In "Black Composers of Southern Africa", Yvonne Huskisson documents the SABC recording as being made by Tete Mbambisa (piano), Sammy Maritz (bass), Max 'Diamond' Dayimani (drums), Dennis Mpale (trumpet) and "Bunny" (Barney) Rachabane (sax). Ronnie Beer was also considered a member of the Jazz Disciples. We can only speculate as to why he was not included in that particular Radio Bantu recording session. Perhaps it was to do with the SABC's own racial policies at the time?
Max 'Diamond' Dayimani 'getting a light' from
Sammy Maritz. Pic: Ian Bruce Huntley

Shortly thereafter, Ronnie Beer rented the Thibault Square recording studio in Cape Town for an hour and he and the Jazz Disciples laid down four tight tracks - one of which we need some help in identifying. Ian Huntley happened to tag along and plugged his reel-to-reel into the sound desk, and here, nearly fifty years later the recording comes to light. We do not know what Ronnie Beer did with the recording he made of that session. Maybe he wanted to press an LP - four songs, thirty minutes - but it just never worked out?
Of all Ian's recordings, this is the only one capturing Sammy Maritz on bass. Maritz played in the Dollar Brand trio in the early 1960s, and then in early incarnations of Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes. He subsequently played most frequently with Tete Mbambisa and Max 'Diamond' Dayimani. Ronnie Beer and Sammy Maritz played in Chris McGregor's band at the 1962 Moroka-Jabavu Jazz Festival in Soweto, while Dennis Mpale and a seventeen-year-old Barney Rachabane joined them all on the legendary 1963 recording, Jazz: The African Sound.

Ian made five different recordings of what could be considered the core of the Jazz Disciples playing together, Mbambisa (leader), Beer, Mpale and Rachabane. One recording at the Room At The Top during 1964 has Martin Mgijima on bass. On another recording of this group at the Zambezi Restaurant in District Six, Ian's notes uncharacteristically do not list who the bass player was. Among Tete Mbambisa's own compositions, Mr Mecca features in two sessions.

Beer, Mpale, Rachabane at Thibault Square 1964
Pic: Ian Bruce Huntley
While Mr Mecca does not feature on Ian's Thibault Square tape, you can hear the version recorded by the Jazz Disciples at the 1964 SABC recording session here. Big thanks to Struan Douglas of for his now out of print Archive Africa CD. See here for the story and tracklisting of important recordings on that CD.The Soul Jazzmen's rendition of Mr Mecca can be found here. In the next few months I will share another 1964 recording of pianist Bucs Gcongo (Chonco) and others rendering Mr Mecca at the Zambezi Restaurant.

Turning to today's offering: The first track is a tight uptempo rendition of Charlie Parker's 'Billie's Bounce'. I think the second is the Ronnie Beer composition "Immediately". The fourth track is a lovely rendition of "Green Dolphin Street". All help apreciated in identifying the third track in this recording, it is naggingly familiar.

The Jazz Disciples: Thibault Square Recording Studio, Cape Town - 1964
Ronnie Beer and Tete Mbambisa at Thibault Square 1964
Pic by Ian Bruce Huntley
Ronnie Beer (saxophone); Barney Rachabane (saxophone - age 18); Dennis Mpale (trumpet); Tete Mbambisa (piano); Max 'Diamond' Dayimani (drums); Sammy Maritz (bass).

1. Billie's Bounce - (Charlie Parker) (7:11)
2. Immediately (I think) (Ronnie Beer) (8:13)
3. Unidentified (7:55)
4. Green Dolphin Street (7:20)

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  1. Another unvaluable recording of The Jazz Disciples.
    Ian's tapes represent a real treasory. Thanks him again, Chris.
    I'm sure you aware of Bra Vic's death.
    Take care

  2. Thanks Olivier, Ian is always happy to hear feedback. Victor Ntoni's passing was indeed another massive and sad loss. Best wishes

  3. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing this. The sound is excellent, and it's a pleasure to hear more Ronnie Beer, whose playing on Gwigwi's Kwela I really enjoy. Thanks! MB

  4. Dear Chris,
    I found this 2 tune - unknown songs -
    has a certain air to the music of South Africa,
    I wondered if you have this song. i not know the name or the
    name of who sings it. Please send all you friends. I love very much this melody

    Hear here:


  5. sent you an email with a folder kenya discs.
    Please let me know when you can post

  6. Number 3 is a be bop blues with strong Parker influence (and perhaps
    + - 15% Ornette Coleman ?¿?-especially considering the 1964 recording date and the subsequent openness in the improvisations)I would guess that it's an original by the Jazz Disciples - minimally the JDisciples wrote the CØDA at the end of the tune
    Is Ronnie Beer the first solo (tenor sax) and Barney Rachabane (alto sax) the second ?

    The Parker/Ornette juxtaposition is very evident in the alto solo -
    Thanks for the share and your work on this important site!…

  7. Thanks ES for your observations and support - helpful. Yes, Ian's records have Ronnie Beer on tenor


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