Monday 26 August 2013

Game 1 - Game 2 (1970)

This isn't a groundbreaking album. But there is something quite attractive and endearing about it, from the striking cover art to the tasty, bouncy sounds gracing the grooves of this record. Like hundreds and hundreds of LPs released in South Africa during this particular era, Game 1 - Game 2 is a compilation of 12 songs from previously-released singles, comprising some of the best sax jive material of the last year. In other words - this is instrumental mbaqanga heaven.

The tunes on Game 1 - Game 2 are short, sweet and peppy - and why would one want anything more than that...? Alto saxophonist Sipho Bhengu launches the album on a bright and happy note, and he is joined immediately by the rest of the members of the Mavuthela studio band Abafana Bezimpalampala. "Inselelo" is a simple tune but, like every other song on the LP, very infectious. Bhengu, who recorded under such memorable pseudonyms as "Sammy Boy and His Sax", "Sipho and His Jets" and "Sammy Boy Nezimpisi", features in three other songs, including "Black Stick Soul", a lovely soul-type number with florid late-60s organ.

There's another soul-influenced tune on the LP, "Jungle Soul" (one of my personal favourites), as recorded by Joseph Makwela and His Comrades - yet another 'black music'-era smokescreen for the musicians of the Makgona Tsohle Band. For those wanting the sound of the original sax jive formula though, not to worry - there's plenty of that on Game 1 - Game 2, and it's seriously good stuff. Makwela and his Makgona Tsohle bandmates turn up again for "Umgqizibo", another 'little but big' tune. Marks Mankwane's hugely popular "Marks Special" series of songs isn't forgotten either, with No. 3 represented on this LP, featuring the sound of his legendary lead guitar alongside the groundbreaking Makwela on bass, the excellent (and often forgotten) Vivian Ngubane on rhythm guitar, and the rhythmic brilliance of Lucky Monama on drums.

...and speaking of Monama, let us not forget about the back-and-forth amazingness of "Phakama Masuku", a great number recorded by Lucky Monama and His Partners (yes, the Makgona Tsohle Band under yet another different name!)

There is one other tune, "Chumba", recorded by Reggie Msomi and His Hollywood Jazz Band - a fabulous number that shouldn't be missed.

Game 1 - Game 2 - a veritable melting pot of staple sax jives. Enjoy!

produced by Rupert Bopape
Smanje Manje LSJM 1002


Monday 19 August 2013

Dudu Pukwana and the Jazz Disciples (1964)

L-R: Barney Rachabane, Dennis Mpale (drums) Tete Mbambisa,
drummer Timmy Kweblulana on bass. (Pic: Ian Huntley)
The Room at the Top (featured in the picture above) was another Cape Town live jazz venue that hosted legendary performances in the 1960s. Two things are striking about this picture of Ian Huntley's: Two of the musicians have swopped roles, with trumpeter Dennis Mpale playing drums, and drummer Timmy Kwebulana playing bass (he toured with Victor Ntoni for the Japan performances of Meropa).

This picture of Tete Mbambisa sitting on a very makeshift piano stool also tells a story of challenges of a different kind. Ian Huntley recalls that the particular piano featured in the picture - and in the recordings shared below - had one fairly important key that simply did not work. The genius that was Tete Mbambisa improvised around his found circumstances. My own limited musical expertise means I did not hear any difference in the recording shared here - perhaps you might notice?

My journey of working on Ian Huntley's jazz archive is approaching an important milestone. The promised book of Ian's pictures has moved to the design and layout phase, with the release scheduled for mid-November this year. Without giving too much away, the book will contain more than 100 pictures chosen by Ian, a short biography of Ian, an essay by Jonathan Eato, and a full discographical listing of the more than 56 hours of recordings made by Ian.

Photographer Cedric Nunn was engaged to work long hours in restoring the digitally scanned black and white and colour images to their pristine original selves, taking away years of residual fungus and scratch marks.

Electric Jive's 'very own' Siemon Allen is voluntarily giving a huge chunk of his time to design the book and lay it out ready for the printers. Siemon is currently a Guggenheim Fellowship holder.

So, what better way to celebrate the anticipation of the launch of a book of Ian's photos than with these rather special recordings made by Ian before Dudu Pukwana left the country with the Blue Notes in July 1964.

Pukwana joins the Jazz Disciples in giving us seven tracks extended over more than two hours, including local compositions Vortex Special (Chris McGregor) Mr Mecca, Tete's Jump, and Leads Dwana (Tete Mbambisa). Due to size, the files are split into two downloads.

Please enjoy!

If you have not yet had chance to access previous posts of Ian's Cape Town jazz archive on Electric Jive (it stretches back to April 2012), use the search function in the right-hand box of this blog and look for "IBH Jazz".

Tape 18   Room at the Top (1964)

7 tracks at 2:11:25

Dennis Mpale (trumpet), Ronnie Beer (tenor sax), Dudu Pukwana (alto sax), Tete Mbambisa (piano), Martin Mgijima (bass), Max ‘Diamond’ Dayimani (drums).

1. Milestones (31:54)

2. Mr Mecca (15:25)

3. Leads Dwana (11:32)

4. Bag’s Groove (15:36)

5. Tete’s Jump - incomplete (19:30)

6. Arabia (18:21)

7. Vortex Special (20:26)

Part 1:  Mediafire here

Part II:  Mediafire here

Monday 12 August 2013

Celebrating Sathima - Matsuli plays the Mahogany Room

One more time! The DJ set I played at Future Nostalgia to celebrate Sathima Bea Benjamin's African Songbird reissue.

Rapidshare / Mixcloud

Monday 5 August 2013

Cape Town celebrates Sathima Bea Benjamin

Sathima at Tagores

Pure emotion is how Sathima Bea Benjamin is often described. In Cape Town at the launch events for the African Songbird album this was reinforced over and over again. On the first night – despite having a cold – Sathima took charge of Tagores and led us on a special journey to her heart. Thanks to the good folks at Chimurenga Electricjive is very happy to share with you an audio recording of that performance.
Sathima at the Labia
Come Sunday night we were not sure if she was going to make it to the Sathima’s Windsong screening. But again we were not disappointed with her presence and patience answering questions and signing albums into the night. At the final Vinyl Session at Mahogany’s  on Tuesday night Sathima was once again with us until midnight.
Chris Albertyn, Sathima Bea Benjamin and Matt Temple
A heartfelt thanks to all those that made the launch events a big success and a very special thanks to Sathima whose songs and presence continue to make all richer. (Special thanks to Greg Franz for the photographs)

Sathima Live at Tagores: Rapidshare here / Zippyshare here

Thursday 1 August 2013

Lift-off for Abafana Basekhaya (1972)

It is hard not to be distracted by the striking graphic art on this great album cover. I am not sure that the 1969 launch of Apollo 12 remained uppermost in the minds of South African music lovers in 1972, but the local urban fascination with many things American is very much in evidence here.

Marketing and imagery aside, Abafana Basekhaya (The Home Boys) deliver a clean, almost contemplative, stripped-down and catchy collection of languid saxophone-driven instrumental mbaqanga. This album is very much in the mould of this earlier minimal mbaqanga posting on the same Number One label - Sea Water.

All the tracks on this album are credited to Tom Vuma and P. Manthata, except the first, "Apollo No 12", which is credited to R. Sathige. The band members are not identified.

"Apollo No 12" and "Going to the Moon" are perhaps my favorite tracks, for their  looping, lilting, sassy swaying effect - kind of, I have consumed too much to dance too energetically, but these tunes do keep me wanting to keep on shuffling on.

The price of this record in 1972 was R1.99 - or $2.60 at that time (with the rand being stronger than the dollar 1:1.33). At the current exchange rate (10:1), the cover price of this record would cost just 20 U.S. cents. What goes up must come down? Who knows?

I might yet make myself a t-shirt with this cover image, and the "Moon Fever" cover to follow in the future.  Many thanks Burgert for giving me this album. Do Enjoy!

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here