Monday 30 December 2013

Rock Jive - Volume 2 (1952-1968) plus FXEJ Series

We close this year with a second volume of South African jive tracks loosely themed around the influence of rock n' roll. Volume One was featured here at Electric Jive earlier this month. All tracks are sourced from the Flat International archive and this compilation marks the 14th in the FXEJ series. If you have not had a chance to hear some of the other material in this series check out the comprehensive list with links below.

As with Volume One all tracks here are digitized from 78 rpms except for the beat version of Strike Vilikazi's Meadowlands by The Meteors which comes from a 45. And like those on Volume One, these tracks cannot strictly be categorized as rock but show a range of eclectic global and indigenous influences including swing, ska, kwela and majuba.

Fans of LPs like Taxi Jive and Ice Cream and Suckers will find much joy here. The later half of this compilation includes material that could be termed "sax jive" and documents a transitional period before South African popular music became dominated by the heavier bass sounds of mbaqanga.

Like before, this comp features some real gems including tracks by Kippie Moeketsi and his Hot Rocks as well as the African Symphonics featuring Ntemi and Shadrack Piliso. Also of note is the track Taxi Ride by Danny Boy that comes from a unique vinyl (and not shellac) 78 rpm disc. The label name, Plastik, says it all — a truly transitional artifact! 

Happy New Year!

(Flat International / Electric Jive, FXEJ 14)

01) Philemon Mogkhosi - Sasihlezi Nentombi Yami (c1952, Bantu Batho, BB 100)
02) The Meteors with Archie Coker - Meadowlands (c1962, Rave, R 209)
03) Roland Mqwebu - Emakete (c1960, Winner, OK 018)
04) African Symphonics - Zulu Roll (1957, Troubadour, AFC 491)
05) Roland Mqwebu - Bayakhala Emakhaya (c1960, Winner, OK 018)
06) Betty Khoza and her Sisters - Yebo (c1965, Winner, OK 211)
07) SDV Swing Band - Braai Vleis (c1966, Winner, OK 267)
08) Sparletta Rockers - Sparletta Rock (1962, Big Beat, BT 405)
09) Billie the Kid and his Zombies - Zombie Phatha Phatha (1959, Zonk, TV 134)
10) Third Avenue Cellars - Niza-Niza (1960, Big Beat, BT 296)
11) Third Avenue Cellars - Ka Marao (1960, Big Beat, BT 296)
12) Danny Boy - Taxi Ride (c1968, Plastik, PL 27)
13) Jimmy Masuluke - Mamabolo (FM, FM X116)
14) Prince Paul Morgan - Thatha (c1967, Modden Jive, MOD 54)
15) Prince Paul Morgan - Thu Thu Ka Paul (c1967, Modden Jive, MOD 54)
16) King Marshall - Mojo Dance No. 5 (c1967, Hit, HIT 363)
17) Soweto Stokvel Septette - Soweto Ska (1966, Stokvel, ST 002)
18) Samuel Levuno - Stock Sweets and Ice Mints (1968, Stokvel, ST 050)
19) Billie the Kid - New Year Kwela (c1960, Winner, OK 105)
20) Kippie Moeketsi and his Hot Rocks - Stick Up Rock (1957, Troubadour, AFC 472)
21) Sore feet Boys - Ugweva (1962, Hit, HIT 226)
22) Swingather's Band - Peter's Sister (c1956, Bantu Batho, BB 1026)
23) Simon Hlatshwayo Crazy Crackers - Pingo Ke Ngoana (c1956, Philips, SB 52)

(Compiled by Flat International for Electric Jive)

(1958-1998) — FXEJ 1
Over her prolific career, from 1954 up to her death in 2008, Makeba issued no less than 29 individual albums along with countless 78s, 45s and EPs, pressed in at least 33 countries. In addition, over 28 compilations of her works have been and continue to be issued on compact disc. For the most part this compilation featured tracks that either had never been reissued on CD or if they were, were seldom, if at all, included on her “best of” compilations. I was surprised to see the number of significant hits and gems remaining un-reissued.

Volume 1 (1927-1952) — FXEJ 2
Volume 2 (1954-1964) — FXEJ 3
Almost every text on maskanda usually opens with a mention of this scene: a seemingly lonely figure walking the streets of Durban, decorated guitar in hand, strumming away and singing to himself. The ambulating musician and the cyclical, repetitive structure of the music almost suggests a journey or even a kind of nomadic life. Maskanda is often described as a Zulu neo-traditional style of music and is most famously linked to the guitar, though not exclusively. This compilation traces the early beginnings of this music.

Volume 1: Swing to Majuba (1953 – 1956) — FXEJ 4
Volume 2: Majuba to Sax Jive (1957-1961) — FXEJ 5
Volume 3: Sax Jive to Mbaqanga (1962 – 1967) — FXEJ 6
As this compilation grew, I realized that it was becoming something closer to a survey of a golden age of South African Jazz and it revealed how that music was transformed, over a decade, into something else that was distinctly more African. I suppose the subtitle of the post could have been how American swing became mbaqangaMajuba, msakazo, or what is more commonly referred to as African Jazz is a quintessentially South African sound. Originally it was a big band sound that took American swing and indigenised it with elements of marabi. From its hey-day in the 1950s it was created by and produced some of the key figures of South African Jazz. Volume 2 and 3 cans be viewed here.

Volume 1 — FXEJ 7
Volume 2 — FXEJ 8
This compilation features a cross-section of mostly South African music in exile. For purposes of definition, "exile music" here covers a thirty year period from 1959 to 1990, during the heart of the apartheid years. This survey is by no means comprehensive, nor is it representative of all South African exile artists or even their ‘best’ work. Rather it is a collection of some of my favorite, more personal tunes. Tunes that for me capture some of the darker but also more ecstatic moments of exile.

(1956-1960) — FXEJ 9
Mabel Mafuya in the mid to late 1950s was one of South Africa’s top-selling jive vocalists. At Troubadour, she was only second to Dorothy Masuka. Remarkably very little material by this legendary artist has been available. In many ways the collection of 26 songs captures Mafuya at the peak of her singing career and is a unique and valuable window into a dynamic social period.

Volume 1 — FXEJ 10
Volume 2 — FXEJ 11
A compilation of South African disco-soul-jive material from the mid to late 1970s through the early 1980s. This mix developed quite serendipitously — I had been putting it together for the better part of a year by adding interesting tracks to a folder as they turned up. Let me just say, invest in some serious shoes before your listen to these two volumes!

(1955-1959) — FXEJ 12
A follow up to Tracks Less Travelled with more, equally rare, sounds by Miriam Makeba on 78 rpm. The tracks on this compilation all come from the period before Makeba left South Africa in August 1959 and in many ways trace the growth of her early career — first as an individual (after many recordings with the Manhattan Brothers) and then with the all-female, close-harmony groups: the Sunbeams and the Skylarks. To my knowledge, none of the material here (save for one track) has been reissued in any subsequent format.

Volume 1 (1952-1968) — FXEJ 13
Volume 2 (1952-1968) — FXEJ 14
While jazz and swing were the dominant styles influencing South African music of the 1950s and 60s, the impact of rock music was inescapable. Rock was marginally adopted by some black South African musicians in the late 1950s, and yet the principle focus still remained with jazz, jive and kwela. These compilation loosely document the impact of rock music on various South African styles.

Monday 16 December 2013

Electric Jive Durban Office Party 2013

What a year, and what a last week it has been. In saying good-bye to Tata Mandela over this last ten days it has been a privilege to feel part of a country-wide outpouring of grief, love and gratitude for the great man.  On this, South Africa's day of Reconciliation (16th December) may the remarkable spirit of goodwill and peace continue throughout your holiday season!

Of course, as a nation we will wake up after the year-end break and get on with the cut and thrust of our contested national project, all the way through to national elections ... with some daring to push the boundaries a little more, knowing that as the fissures and fractures re-appear in our national fabric, we also have the capacity (when most critical) to see the bigger picture and overcome those differences that we do feel.

Until then - it is time to dispense with your inhibitions, suspend your critical faculties, switch off your cheese-o-meter, (yes some of this is deliciously cheesey), kick off your shoes, find your loved ones and submit your groove to a feel-good bygone era of disco soul, swing, twist, funk and a little mashed up jazz from South Africa's 60s and 70s.

Thank you all for being part of the Electric Jive experience this year - it has been another wonderful ride. Thank you to everyone who has left words of feedback, thanks and encouragement - it means a lot to us. I look forward to picking up the conversation again in the new year when we will be able to announce a launch date of the dedicated Electric Jive Ian Bruce Huntley Archive pages.

This Durban Office Party is a mix-tape gleaned mostly from single tracks especially digitized from various under-played LPs and 78rpms.  There is a second link containing separated tracks.

1. Sonny and His Booi's: Funky Sax (1967) (King-Doggett)
2. Stan Lee's Boys: Rock Lobster Twist - (196?) (Glasser)
3. The Soul Brothers: Wonderful World - (197?) (The Soul Brothers)
4. Golden Disco: Makhelwane - (197?) (Babsy Mlangeni)
5. The Moonlight Expressions: If You Ready (1975) (H. Banks, R.Jackson, C. Hampton)
6.  Lionel Petersen: Swing Your Daddy (1975) (Nolan)
7.  Friends: Shoowa Shoowa (1976) (Cambridge Matiwane)
8.  Wanda Arletti: Love Power (1969) (Vann)
9.  Disco Six: Disco Six (1977)(Zane Cronje; Rene Veldsman; M. Horowitz)
10. Una Valli and The Flames: Tell Mama (1968) (Carter)
11. Lionel Petersen: That's The Way I Like It (1975) (Casey/Finch)
12. The Invaders: Shockwave (1970) (The Invaders)
13. The Elricas: No School Today - Soweto School (197?) (D. Makhubela)
14. The Elricas: Chez Gaye Special: (197?) (The Elricas)
15. Roy Petersen: Soulitis (1969) (Roy Petersen)
16. Elricas Dance Band: Take Five (?) (Paul Desmond)
17. Stan Lee's Boys: Twist for Six - (196?)  (Stan Lee)
18. Elricas Dance Band: Medley (Amdelia, Ghomea Chero, Hoola Hoop, Chez Gaye Samba)
19. Dukes Combo: Le Vastrap (197?) (Vasie Naidoo)
20. Niek Potgieter: Bosveld Vastrap (?) (Potgieter)
21. Nico Carstens: Kitaar Boogie (?) Carstens/De Waal
22. Nick Mick Band: Pick and Choose (196?) (Mickey Vilakazi)
23. Henry's Sextet: Ndolondlo (1968) (Henry Sithole)
24. Zee Zee Jazz Appointment: Jive and Rest (196?) (Rupert Bopape).


Separated tracks

Thursday 12 December 2013

Moonbeats over 2013 mixtape

So here we go with some of the favourites from 2013 that got stuck in my head over the past 12 months....enjoy!

Zephyr - Rodion G.A.
Adjinon We - Danialou Sagbohan
Safar - Hassan Shamaizadeh
Piya Tu Ab To Aaja - Kumar Sanu
Malam Joget - Orkes Melayu Bulan Purnama
WÅ„Åòrewan Am_ÉŒÅÇulle - Elias Tebabel
Hayeelin - Dur-Dur Band
Sina Raha - Hafusa Abasi & Slim Ali with The Yahoos Band
Ne me fatigue pas - Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba
Onsta La Yerbita - Los Destellos
w.e.l.f.a.r.e. - antonio castro
Moonbeams - Brenda Ray
Come Holy Spirit - God's Band
Ah, Music - Vinny Roma

Get it here: RS / ZS 

Sunday 8 December 2013

Hamba Kahle Tata Mandela

We grieve, we cry, we look for comfort, we give thanks - may Nelson Mandela's inspiring life make us all more resolute in pursuing his example of leadership, compassion and humanity. Hamba Kahle Tata.

In 1986 Johnny Clegg penned this beautiful protest anthem: Asimbonanga:

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang' uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph'ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph'ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)

Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the Island into the Bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang' uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph'ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph'ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)

A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang' uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph'ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph'ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)

Steve Biko

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang 'umfowethu thina (we have not seen our brother)
Laph'ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph'wafela khona (In the place where he died)

Victoria Mxenge

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang 'umfowethu thina (we have not seen our brother)
Laph'ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph'wafela khona (In the place where he died)

Neil Aggett

Hey wena (Hey you!)
Hey wena nawe (Hey you and you as well)
Siyofika nini la' siyakhona (When will we arrive at our destination)

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang 'umfowethu thina (we have not seen our brother)
Laph'ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph'wafela khona (In the place where he died)

(The picture featured is of the striking Nelson Mandela sculpture created by Marco Cianfanelli at the site where Mandela was captured by the South African Police near Howick in 1962.)

The great man makes an appearance in this video of the song. The original recording of the track can be downloaded below.

RS here
MF here

Friday 6 December 2013

We Miss You Mandela!

What can be said? We all knew this day would come. Tonight marks the passing of Nelson Mandela! Many in South Africa will waken shortly to this sad news. I know Chris has prepared a special post for this occasion, but in the wee hours of this morning and until that time enjoy this masked tribute to the iconic leader. Recorded by Sello "Chicco" Twala in 1987 this hit dance song escaped the apartheid censors by referring to a fictional character "Manelow" but it was fully understood who the subject of the song was. As you listen it is hard not to hear the words: "We Miss You Mandela, Where Are You?"

We Miss You Manelo
RBM 068
Promotional 12" copy

Also check out Chicco's youTube video:

Monday 2 December 2013

Rock Jive - Volume 1 (1952-1968)

December brings our now annual tradition of featuring end-of-year compilations appropriate for the holiday season. I'll open with a first volume of South African jive tracks loosely themed around rock n' roll. All tracks are digitized from 78 rpms sourced from the Flat International archive.

While jazz and swing were the dominant styles influencing South African music of the 1950s and 60s, the impact of rock music was inescapable. Rock was marginally adopted by some black South African musicians in the late 1950s, and yet the principle focus still remained with jazz, jive and kwela. Reasons for this are well outlined in Charles Hamm's essay "Rock 'n Roll in a Very Strange Society" in his book Putting Popular Music in its Place. For more on this subject also see our earlier post on the Bogard Brothers.

Not all the tracks in this compilation are strictly rock — many include elements of swing, ska, kwela, goema and majuba (or African Jazz). Simply, I built the comp from tracks that either included the word "rock" in the title or band name or where a name or title was similarly suggestive such as Slim Guitar and his Band or the Hot lips Band. Some gems include the Bank Robber's Rock by Kippie Moeketsi and his Hot Rocks and Zulu Rock by the African Symphonics featuring Ntemi and Shadrack Piliso.

I think you will find the compilation suitable for dancing.

(Flat International / Electric Jive, FXEJ 13)

01) Cowboy Superman - Madlaka Dlaka (1952, Bantu Batho, BB 113)
02) African Symphonics - Zulu Rock (1957, Troubadour, AFC 491)
03) Benoni Rocket - I'm Gonna Rock (1961, New Sound,  GB 3278)
04) SDV Swing Band - Riverside Blues (c1966, Winner, OK 267)
05) Slim Guitar and his Band - Mapapi Busuku (1960, Zonk, TV 155)
06) Soweto Stokvel Septette - Eddie's Ska (1966, Stokvel, ST 002)
07) Black Notes - Funky Papa (c1965, Tempo, KT 567)
08) Billie the Kid and his Zombies - Magidasibekane (1959, Zonk, TV 134)
09) Joe's Jazz Band - Fly-By-Night (c1955, Philips, P30803H)
10) Hot Lips Band - Julia (c1953, Bantu Batho, BB 162)
11) Fanani Sibanda - Abanga Bani (c1953, Troubadour, AFC 151)
12) Kippie Moeketsi and his Hot Rocks - Bank Robber's Rock (1957, Troubadour, AFC 472)
13) Telegram Specials - Imfene (c1962, Goli Rand, RA 154)
14) Sophiatown Gaities - Mosadi Ola (c1956, Philips, SB 55)
15) Simon Hlatshwayo Crazy Crackers - Ama Crazy Crackers (c1956, Philips, SB 52)
16) Black Notes - Madison Time (c1965, Tempo, KT 567)
17) Slim Guitar and his Band - Ndlela Mbi (1960, Zonk, TV 155)
18) Benoni Rocket - Khumbula Leyomini (1961, New Sound, GB 3278)
19) Billie the Kid - Xmas Night Jump (c1960, Winner, OK 105)
20) Samuel Levuno - Vereeniging Jive (1968, Stokvel, ST 050)
21) Swingather's Band - Emazini (c1956, Bantu Batho, BB 1026)
22) Telegram Specials - Insizwa (c1962, Goli Rand, RA 154)

Monday 25 November 2013

Amagugu: Ubhek'uZulu (1974)

"Africa's Greatest Vocal Group": goes the front cover marketing hyperbole from 1974. Amagugu were certainly vocally very strong though - sultry, velvet harmonies. Add legendary lead guitarist and arranger Hansford Mthembu to the girl group and groaner mix, and you have a very strong mbaqanga album.

I turned to Electric Jive's walking mbaqanga encyclopedia, Nick Lotay, to see if he could tell me more than the little that is available on the record and cover. This is what he had to say:

"The regular members of Amagugu during this time included Sannah Mnguni (lead vocals), her sister Francina 'Thopi' Mnguni, Thoko Khumalo, Liliah Vilakazi and Thandi Kheswa (who was a Mahotella Queens member from around 1969 to 1974). The lady photographed on the front cover isn't Sannah - it looks like it could be Thandi Kheswa, but I'm not sure. The male groaner is Harry Nhlapo who later joined Abafana Baseqhudeni at Mavuthela, and at one point sang with the Queens.

"The lead guitarist on this LP is Thopi's husband Hansford Mthembu, one of the legendary mbaqanga players of all time and one of the crafters of Amagugu's sound. Kali Monare is the drummer. Titus Masikane, credited with writing two of these songs, was the group's producer and manager.

"I don't know who or what the "Umqangabodwe" credited as having written four songs was, but producers of the time would habitually invent random names to replace the name of the real composer, possibly to collect the ensuing royalty fee for themselves."

1. Ubhek'uZulu - (H. Nhllapho)
2. Imvula (Umqnagabhodwe)
3. Ulwandle (Umqnagabhodwe)
4. Inyoni Emhlophe (Umqnagabhodwe)
5. Instsholontsholo (Umqnagabhodwe)
6. Chuchu Makgala (Thandi Kheswa)
7. Mesong (K. Monare)
8. Samelu (Sannah Mnguni)
9. Emakhabaleni (T. Masikane)
10. Mngane Wami (T. Masikane)
11. King of My Heart (H. Mthembu)
12. Salani Kahle (H. Methembu)

Producer: Titus Masikane
Skyline Jazz: SK80162

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Monday 18 November 2013

Classic mbaqanga: Indoda Mahlathini (1969)

Today, Electric Jive is proud to present another compilation of hit singles from the days when mbaqanga was the sound of the townships - Indoda Mahlathini, released in 1969 on the Motella label, is a twelve-song LP that features some of the best-selling Mavuthela material of the past year. As is normally the case with this kind of record, the listener will find that they simply must get up and start grooving to the great vocal jive sounds offered here.

Although this LP bears his identity, it is rather interesting that Simon ‘Mahlathini’ Nkabinde appears only on four of the twelve songs! This particular time period was the absolute peak of Mahlathini’s popularity. The rightful king of all the groaners, this crowd-puller was the only singing star who attracted fans from right across the board – kids as young as ten would attend his shows, as well as elderly people who scrambled to the halls in their walking frames. It is obvious that the compilers of this album wanted to capitalise on Mahlathini’s enormous success by using his renowned moniker as the title of this record. The King’s bellowing groans can be heard on his solo numbers “Imbodlomane” and “Gabi Gabi”, as well as “Sengibuya Emarabini” which is recorded with the Mahotella Queens and “Akashaywa Umfazi” by the Sweet Home Dames.

From Mavuthela’s start back in 1964, the same team of ten (or so) female singers had recorded under the various group names dreamed up by Rupert Bopape. Following the recruitment of more singers during 1965, Bopape took one of the names and built it up into a regular recording and touring line-up: the Mthunzini Girls (Julia Yende, Windy Sibeko, Teddy Nkutha and Virginia Teffo) were the junior group of singers. The Girls also recorded under a second name, Izingane Zo Mgqashiyo. The senior female group at Mavuthela performed and recorded as the Mahotella Queens, but also cut records under various other (non-touring) names including Izintombi Zo Mgqashiyo, Marula Boom Stars, Soweto Stars and Sweet Home Dames. Some of these names were interchangeable, and it is not unusual to listen to a record credited to the Sweet Home Dames but featuring the voices of the Mthunzini Girls (or vice versa).

“Jive Didiza” was one of the Mthunzini Girls’ biggest-selling hits of the late 1960s. Possibly recorded as Mavuthela’s answer to the rival Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje’s celebrated 1967 top seller “Isidudla sika Joseph”, this number features the robust lead vocals of Yende who sings “siyatshitshizela, isidudla sikaMahlathini” (we’re moving like young girls, Mahlathini’s big women)! “Tete Muka No. 2” is a song that has an amazingly crazy guitar intro and a fast-paced beat that just won’t quit – and that’s definitely not a bad thing. The group’s other track on this LP is the wonderfully rumba-tastic “Sangena, Sangena”, a driving and dynamic number that happens to be my favourite one. The late Windy Sibeko’s distinctive alto voice can be clearly heard on these two classics.

The senior Mavuthela female group appears on four tracks on Indoda Mahlathini. One of them, “Sengibuya Emarabini”, uses the familiar and famous Mahotella Queens name. The usual rhythmic mgqashiyo beat works its magic in this lovely number composed by Rupert Bopape and Marks Mankwane. The other three numbers are credited to the Sweet Home Dames and feature the normal Mahotella line-up of the day, including Mildred Mangxola (who recently retired from the current line-up of the group in 2013), Juliet Mazamisa, Ethel Mngomezulu, Thoko Nontsontwa and Nobesuthu Shawe. Mangxola’s two compositions, “Yeka Amanga” and “Akashaywa Umfazi”, are yet another couple of examples of solid girl group harmony. Another gem is Shawe’s composition “Dumazile”, the complicated tale of a couple of lovers.

Later into the 1960s, with more young female vocalists joining the roster, Bopape took another of the pseudonyms used by the senior group and built up a third unit of junior singers. The Dima Sisters, who appear on three songs, included Sheba Malgas, Mavis Maseko, Nancy Ngema and Julia Ngubane. Various Mavuthela staff including Shadrack Piliso, Ellison Themba and the two Lerole brothers contributed to the group’s material. Following the departures of several vocalists in the early 1970s after a salary disagreement, the most talented singers in the lower-ranking Mavuthela groups were promoted into the senior Mahotella Queens line-up. Several Izintombi Zomoya members joined the frontline of the Queens, with two of the Dima Sisters also coming on board – Nancy Ngema and Sheba Malgas.

While you’re waiting for this LP to download, you’d best get your dancing shoes ready and get ready to do some heavy jive mgqashiyo until you drop. Enjoy!

produced by Rupert Bopape
Motella LMO 110
Vocal Jive


Thursday 14 November 2013

Hidden South African Jazz archive comes to life

Tonight at a public lecture in the City of York there will be a live performance of four South African jazz compositions found in the Ian Bruce Huntley archive. The "original" Ian Huntley recordings are shared here today in celebration of the great work that Jonathan Eato and students at the Department of Music at the University of York are doing in bringing Ian's archive alive in a most positive manner. Jazz legend Louis Moholo-Moholo will be there tonight, participating in the celebration.

Jonathan is talking to an interested audience about the Ian Bruce Huntley archive, showing some of the pictures, and to illustrate some of the material found in the audio archive, he
Ronnie Beer: Pic © Ian Huntley
has taken the trouble to transcribe the music and give "the dots" as he calls the sheet music, to four students who will be performing compositions by Tete Mbambisa (Leads Dwana); Ronnie Beer (Immediately); Ebrahim Kalil Shihab aka Chris Schilder (Look Up ) and Winston Mankunku Ngozi (Ekhaya).

In writing to me about the planned event tonight, and the process leading up to it, Jonathan had the following to say:

"Obviously this couldn't have happened without Ian's recordings. They (the students) will play them as part of the Merchant Adventurer talk .... And what's great is that Mpumi Moholo and Louis Moholo-Moholo will be there (although this is making the drummer both very nervous and very excited). I wonder if these compositions have ever been played outside South Africa?

"When they're tidied up I'll send the dots through for Ian (if that's of interest to him...). In listening to this music in detail so I could transcribe it for the students the interesting thing to me is that although improvisation over blues sequences are ubiquitous in jam sessions and gigs with impromptu bands, 'Immediately', 'Leads Dwana' and 'Look Up' all do this in unusual ways. Probing and exploring the form in one way or another.

"The head for 'Look Up' is thirteen bars (the usual 12 with a sort of one bar hiatus added to the end), whereas 'Immediately' has an extra two beats added to bars 4 and 12 - which also gives a total length of 13 bars but with the elongations split up and spread throughout the head, if that makes sense. 'Leads Dwana' is really doing my head in - it's heavily modal but I think I'm going to have to do more work on trying to understand how it works (or perhaps hope that Tete will explain it to me - assuming we can find a language that makes sense to both of us). Anyways it's a 32 bar modal head which covers the main harmonic centres of a typical jazz blues without using the form, or the bebop language prevalent in modern jazz blues.

"Of course these musicians were aware of Miles Davis' work etc. (hence 'Milestones' etc featuring so often in the IBH recordings) - and even though Davis recorded that in 1958, Herbie Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage' (the other great landmark of modal jazz) wasn't recorded until a year *after* Barney Rachabane, Ronnie Beer, Dennis Mpale, Tete Mbambisa, Max Dayimani and Sammy Maritz recorded 'Leads Dwana' in the studios at Thibault Square."

Jackie, Philly and Chris Schilder
Pic © Ian Huntley
I hope the musically technical stuff made sense to some of you, I just nod my head and happily accept that I can still love and appreciate the music without really understanding the intricacies of how it is constructed.
Ian's recordings are believed to be the first or earliest recordings of all of these compositions - and as Jonathan wonders aloud, have they even been played outside of South Africa - before tonight? By my amateur reckoning, I do believe, Ronnie Beer's "Immediately" has the greatest chance of having been  performed in Europe while Beer was there playing with Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes. 

In addition to the two versions of "Immediately" already shared on this blog (The Thibault Square recording at 7:55) here and (Room At the Top) a 15 min 46sec take here  - we are sharing two more versions. A 9:52 take, from another fine performance by Mpale, Rachabane, Mbambisa, Beer, Mgijima and Dayimani at the Room at the Top - at the end of which you can hear one of the band members commenting about Max Dayimani "hitting the drums". The second take is a 13min 55sec version, also performed by the same members at the Room At The Top in 1964.
"Look Up" features on the 1968 vinyl holy grail - Chris Schilder Quintet's "Spring". The 3:35 version also features on Volume 3 of the great Strut Next Stop Soweto Compilation issued in 2010. The 1966 version of Spring recorded by Ian in District Six, Cape Town stretches to close on eight minutes performed by a Schilder family trio.

Tete Mbambisa's  Leads Dwana also deserves to be heard internationally, and perhaps it has been already. Who knows? Here, the Jazz Disciples - with Sammy Maritz on bass - provide a swinging eight-minute rendition.

The recording of Ekhaya is unlikely to have been performed and is not widely known. The recording shared here today was not a public performance and is not of the best sound quality, but those who recognize its importance will forgive that.

The musicians playing the four compositions at the live gig tonight are: Will Edwards (drums), Twm Dylan (bass), Joe McGrail (piano), Ben Turner (alto saxophone).

In his talk, Jonathan will be outlining the thesis he puts forward in his essay contained in the book "Keeping Time". Thank you to all of you who have pre-ordered the book - and for your kind and encouraging words. For those of you who have not yet reserved your copy - it might be a good idea. Click on the picture of the book on the side-bar - it will give you an e-mail address. Send me an e-mail requesting a copy, and I will send you further details.
1. Look Up  (7:59) (Chris Schilder): Chris Schilder (piano), Philly Schilder (bass), Jackie Schilder (drums) - recorded at the Moses House, Smart Street, District Six ~1966.
2. Ekhaya (7:35) (Winston Mankunku Ngozi) Winston Mankunku Ngozi (tenor), Ebrahim Kalil Shihab (Chris Schilder) (Piano), Midge Pike (Bass), Selwyn Lissack (Drums). Recorded at a practice session at Selwyn Lissack's Bantry Bay garage studio - 1966.
3. Immediately (Ronnie Beer) ver a (9:52) Dennis Mpale (trumpet), Barney Rachabane (alto), Ronnie Beer (tenor), Tete Mbambisa (piano), Martin Mgijima (bass), Max Dayimani (drums). Performed at the Room at the Top, Strand Street, Cape Town 1964.
4. Immediately (Ronnie Beer) ver b (13:55) Dennis Mpale (trumpet), Barney Rachabane (alto), Ronnie Beer (tenor), Tete Mbambisa (piano), Martin Mgijima (bass), Max Dayimani (drums). Performed at the Room at the Top, Strand Street, Cape Town 1964.
5. Leads Dwana  (11:32) (Tete Mbambisa) Dennis Mpale (trumpet), Barney Rachabane (alto), Ronnie Beer (tenor), Tete Mbambisa (piano), Martin Mgijima (bass), Max Dayimani (drums). Performed at the Room at the Top, Strand Street, Cape Town 1964.
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Saturday 9 November 2013

Keeping Time: Order Yours Now

Saturday 9th November 2013
Dear lover of South African Jazz
RE: “Keeping Time”
160 pages - 30cm x 25cm - 158gsm art paper - hard cover
You are invited to get this book while you can. Keeping Time celebrates the public emergence of an extraordinary visual and audio archive begun by Ian Bruce Huntley in Cape Town fifty years ago.

This limited edition run of 500 opens a window to a little known era of South Africa’s music history, documenting a generation of jazz musicians in 120 selected and carefully restored colour and black and white images. Ian’s pictures and 56 hours of audio recordings capture an ‘underground’ jazz scene that persisted in creative defiance of all that grand apartheid threw at it. Many of the photographed live performances are indexed in this book and all will soon become available for free download through Electric Jive.
A handful of the musicians Ian Huntley worked with are still alive today. Some had few opportunities to record commercially - whilst others remain woefully under-documented. Combined with the loss to exile of yet more key people in South Africa’s jazz  history, and the few previously accessible recordings from these times, there is a deficit in our historical understanding and resources.

The new found accessibility of this previously hidden archive gives lovers of South African music, scholars, musicians, artists, anyone who is fascinated with the achievements of a generation of South African jazz musicians, a small but invaluable means towards

maintaining memory and articulating lost stories.

Published by Chris Albertyn and Associates in partnership with
Electric Jive, this cloth-bound hard-cover book is printed on high quality art paper and is being sold at the price it cost to produce. In addition to a biographical sketch of Ian Huntley, the book offers a substantial essay by Jonathan Eato, a full discography of all 56 hours of the recordings Ian made, and a comprehensive index.

South African artist Siemon Allen is responsible for the design and layout. Photographer Cedric Nunn has painstakingly restored the images.
Because of the high-quality art paper used the book weighs in at just over 1.5kgs. The post and packaging charges below are not marked up - they are the real cost. (not counting labour).

From USA: $59.99 + $4.00 postage (P&P to anywhere else worldwide $35.00)  SOLD OUT
From EUROPE: £39.99 + P&P: to UK (£6.70 - untracked, second class mail); to EU £13.50; anywhere else in the world £24.00 - STOCKS BECOMING LOW
From SOUTH AFRICA: R438.50 + R61.39 VAT = R499.89. P&P R45.00. (ordinary parcel service)
SADC: R460.00. P&P R270.00
Rest of World – from South Africa: ZAR470.00. P&P ZAR470.00
Yours sincerely
Chris Albertyn
e-mail me: recordforthe AT gmail DOT com to place your order

Thursday 7 November 2013

Allen Kwela, Sandile Shange, Evan Ziporyn (1984)

Sandile Shange playing at the Beatrice Street Durban "Bantu YMCA" in 1968
Pic: © Ian Bruce Huntley
From one perspective, South Africa’s musical history can be characterised as being of lost opportunities for some great musicians who, but for apartheid, would probably have been more widely celebrated. Some made huge sacrifices in pursuit of their musical destinies, while others made different choices, or had no choice. How much agency Allen Kwela and Sandile Shange had in seeing and taking their possible options, we may never know.

What I do know is that Allen Kwela and Sandile Shange were very fine guitarists, and they did have opportunity to record with internationally celebrated clarinetist and composer, Evan Ziporyn – in Durban in May 1984.

Prior to posting this, I wrote to Evan Ziporyn and he has very kindly found the time to share a few reflections about his time in Durban. Evan was very happy that Electric Jive is sharing these recordings - he thought they were lost, and had not heard them in thirty years.

Allen Kwela is well referenced on Electric Jive, here (solo), here (playing on Gideon Nxumalo's "Early Mart"),  here (on 78rpm) here (Allen's Soul Bag), here (Black Beauty) and here (playing with Winston Mankunku and the Cliffs).

Sandile Shange was another Durban guitarist, three to six years younger than Kwela (Kwela was born in 1939). I was privileged to see Sandile Shange play often with Darius Brubeck, Victor Ntoni and Barney Rachabane, and also at the Rainbow Restaurant with Busi Mhlongo. Shange made earlier recordings in the 1970’s with the “Shange Brothers”, including at a 1976 concert at the Jabulani Stadium in Soweto.
This very beautiful recording I share here is an SABC transcription recording made in Durban during May 1984 – and I am wondering what hand Darius Brubeck might have had in bringing this together? Writing in Jurgen Schaderberg’s “Jazz, Blues and Swing”, Brubeck talks about his being appointed to the first jazz post at the University of Natal, Durban in 1983 (following instigation by Chris Ballantine). Brubeck gives high praise to Allen Kwela, and goes on to say:

Sandile Shange at Dorkay House 1966.
Gordon Mfandu on drums
Pic © Ian Huntley 
“Another self-taught guitarist from Durban, Sandile Shange was the first professional jazz musician to work with me on a regular basis. Collaborating with Sandile and Allen were timely and humbling lessons for a newly minted teacher. As fate dictated, 20 years later both made their final recordings with me Victor Ntoni, Sandile Shange, Allen Kwela and Barney Rachabane ... inducted me into South African jazz life”.

Both Shange and Kwela died in 2003 – Kwela from an asthma attack and Shange being knocked off his scooter in Durban by a hit-and-run drunk driver.

Evan Ziporyn is very much still creating in this world. If you are in San Fransisco on Friday 8th November you can catch him in Berkeley. Described as an American composer of post minimalist music, Ziporyn is Professor of Music at MIT, a member of the Silk Road Project and recognised as one of the USA’s top living artists.

Even though he is busy touring, Evan agreed to write a few lines about his time in Durban and this recording: This is what he has to say:

"As you guessed, Darius Brubeck was the matchmaker here - he invited me to be in residence at the university for several months in early 1984, when the jazz program there was somewhat new.  The decision to come to SA at all at that time was complicated, but I trusted him & his wife Cathy, and I very much wanted to work with African musicians.  On a social and political level there are lots of stories to tell, but I suspect they would all be familiar to people from the region.  Interesting and strange times - the system was slowly opening up on so many levels, and everyone knew it; at the same time, there was so much entrenchment, so much awareness of race and social status, so much pain in even the simplest human interaction.  Change seemed both inevitable but hard to imagine actually happening without violent upheaval. So I could have Allen or Sandhile at my home or even visit theirs (albeit often being pulled over by the police while entering KwaZulu, and condescendingly warned that I 'didn't know what I was getting myself into'); we could even socialize together in public in certain neighborhoods and situations - but it was very clear that this was all in the context of something far more brutal and systematic, and that at any moment any black or mixed race African could be pushed around and debased in any number of large or small ways.  

 That was a large part of the experience, but even so it was thrilling to me to work with Allen Kwela and Sandhile Shange - amazing musicians, but different players with very different personalities.
Sandile Shange, Barney Rachabane, unknown pianist entertaining
at Dorkay House (Johannesburg) 1966. Pic © Ian Huntley

 Allen - despite his last name and obvious connection to kwela - was a consummate jazz artist and aficionado, with a deep love and knowledge of the American songbook.    He taught me a lot about it.  What's New was a particular favorite of his - when he sang the lyrics it would almost bring tears to my eyes.  Sandhile to my ears connected directly to the very rich African guitar tradition - not just Zulu styles but older Congolese and East African styles, at least what I knew of these.  There was always a deep groove present in his playing, but even on straightforward chord progressions his harmonic sense was sophisticated and inventive.  I remember listening to Tschaikovsky with him at the Durban Symphony - between movements he leaned over and whispered 'great chords!'

 Though I didn't know it at the time, these recordings - which I haven't heard in almost 30 years - marked the end of my own sojourn into something approaching mainstream jazz.  I left South Africa soon thereafter and pursued a very different musical path.  Coincidentally these recordings reemerge during a period where I'm once again exploring improvisation and valuing the type of interpersonal connection that it can manifest.  i played a lot of music with both Allen & Sandhile during those few months - often with the excellent bassist Marc Duby - and it always felt remarkably good.  Whatever my own abilities in the idiom, it still feels good to hear it - I'm deeply grateful it was preserved.  It never occurred to me that I'd never see either of them again, I always figured we'd get around to it sooner or later.  I wish it had been sooner.

Thank you to Olivier Ledure for sharing this recording with Electric Jive.

The pictures above are of three of Ian Bruce Huntley's pictures of Sandile Shange that appear in "Keeping Time". To order a copy of this book, check this link out here - and click on the picture of the book on the sidebar of this blog - it will give you an e-mail address.

SABC Transcription – Durban – May 1984 (Studio 5)
Producer: Cyril Grover
Recording Enginer: Clive Staegemann
Side One: Allen (“Alan”) Kwela and Evan Ziporyn (LT 21 132)
1. Sunday Blues (Allen Kwela)
2. Whats New (Allen Kwela)
3. Blue Burst (Allen Kwela)
4. The Unknown (Allen Kwela)
Side Two: Sandile Shange and Evan Ziporyn (LT 21 133)
5. Everything Happens To Me (Carmichael/Mercer)
6. Izolo (Shange)
7. St Thomas (Sonny Rollins)
8. Mexican Border (Shange)
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