Monday 27 January 2014

Blue Notes at Wits (1963) - John Blacking recording

Booklet promoting their last South African Tour before going
into exile in 1964. From left to right Dudu Pukwana,
Monty Weber, Chris McGregor, Mongezi Feza.
courtesy of Tony McGregor
Ian Bruce Huntley knew how to hold onto important artefacts: take for example this March 1963 recording of the Blue Notes at Wits University. Not many people knew it existed, and fewer still have heard it.

Recorded by Professor John Blacking at the University of Witwatersrand in Johanesburg on 22nd March 1963, it features Chris McGregor (Piano), Elijah Nkwanyana (Trumpet), Dudu Pukwana (saxophone), Martin Mgijima (Double Bass), and it is believed to possibly be Nelson Magwaza on drums. It is not known who features on the baritone saxophone, but it may well be Christopher Columbus (Mbra) Ngcukana – as he did play with the band during 1963.

This gig comes near the beginning of a year of extensive change and touring for the Blue Notes in South Africa, winning the best band prize at that year’s Castle Lager Jazz Festival. The Blue Notes also played the Wits Great Hall on 29th April as part of a poetry and jazz evening with Dennis Mpale replacing Elijah Nkwanyane on trumpet, and Early Mabuza on drums. The poetry was read by Zakes Mokae. They went on to do a similar poetry and jazz gig in Cape Town on 18th May, and will have driven south-north right across the country to play the University of Turfloop Graduation ball on 26th May.

Further detail to this background information can be found on Mike Fowler’s great Blue Notes archive site here.
When I asked Ian how he came to be in possession of this recording, he said he was friends with architect Julian Beinart who moved to Cape Town from Wits in 1965. Julian Beinart had intersected with John Blacking at Wits University, an English anthropologist and ethnomusicologist who originally came to South Africa under the employ of Hugh Tracey at the International Library of African Music (ILAM). Blacking gave Beinart a copy of the recording, and Beinart gave Ian a copy. You can read more of Blacking and his studies of Venda music and culture here and here.
Like Ian, Julian Beinart was a jazz aficionado. His CV says he produced two African Jazz Albums - I have written him a mail asking for more information.  Beinart’s distinguished career took him to
Disa Park, Vredehoek.
international academic and design heights at MIT. Besides being responsible for designing some important buildings in the USA, Beinart was also responsible for the Pepper Pots in Vredehoek, Cape Town.

Judging by the number of inquiries I have been receiving – especially from those of you who have purchased the book - there are quite a few Electric Jive visitors who are keen to know when the full Ian Huntley archive will become public. I am sorry to say that a bereavement in my family at the beginning of this year means it is going to take a month or so longer than I had originally anticipated. Please do be patient – I have Rose Lombard helping me out, and we are getting somewhere – but we are not there yet.

Today’s special recording comes in at around fifty minutes. Any help with identifying the opening track will be much appreciated.

1. Unidentified (11:07)

2. Vortex Special (6:56)

3. Boogie Stop Shuffle (4:20)

4. Kippie (4:33)

5. The Baptist (6:38)

6. Ukuphuma Kwetanga (2:52)

7. Jongaphu (4:48)

8. Cherokee (6:40)
Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Monday 20 January 2014

En Direct du Congo (RIP Patrice Lumumba)

Just a few days past the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba it is fitting to make a nod to the Congo sound of the sixties. A stone cold classic, namely the  Pathe-Marconi album En Direct Du Congo, originally released in 1967 barely two years after Joseph Mobutu had seized power from President Kasa-Vubu. Featuring Franco and TPOK Jazz, Orchestra Bantous, Orchestra Negro and Orchestra Cercul this is a lovely collection of sixties congolese rumba. As for the cover its wonderful example of naivity from the French graphic designer at the time. All you need to do is listen and the time machine takes over.

Various Artists: En Direct Du Congo (Pathe Marconi, 1967)
01. Katherine: Franco and TPOK Jazz
02. Mi Amore: Franco and TPOK Jazz 
03. Gouvernement ya Katanga Orient: Franco and TPOK Jazz 
04. Mantale: Franco and TPOK Jazz
05. Nzambe: Franco and  TPOK Jazz 
06. Bandoki Kabasaka Ye Neraka: Franco and TPOK Jazz 
07. Mojado Parati: Orchestra Bantous 
08. Tobomguisa Avenir: Orchestra Cercul Jazz 
09. Wa Baka Ku Luonandi: Orchestra Negro Band 
10. Ata Ndele Na Ko Dounda: Orchestra Cercul Jazz 
11. Lisuma Nini Na Ngai: Orchestra Negro Band 
12. Bo Ndumba Ya Brazza: Orchestra Cercul Jazz


Monday 13 January 2014

More Shangaan Electro Roots - Samson Mthombeni's 1977 Debut

A big thank you to Donald Swanepoel who recently found this 1977 album featuring Samson Mthombeni and the Gazankulu Sisters. Some tracks by this artist were featured on what we though was one of the first examples of the early Shangaan style (see this post).

The tempo is slower and the recording shows some similarities with other recordings stimulated in part by Apartheid radio programming policy (i.e. only Zulu music on Radio Zulu etc). There were nine language specific stations to support this policy of ethnic identity when the key political challenge to Apartheid was an urban cosmopolitan population made up of different ancestries and home languages. By example Babsy Mlangeni issued the same album in three different languages. Crazy times!

So without further ado, and thanks again to Donald here is another fine LP for your enjoyment.

Samson Mthombeni and Gazankulu Sisters (1977, Fast Move)1. Ninyikeni Dzovo
2. Mingani Rivati
3. Vamabalani
4. Sophie
5. Yimani Nihibyela
6. Ndambi
7. Vatatenga
8. Mingatekeli Kuphumela
9. Vanitekele Shibelani
10. Vakhoma Njani
11. Anna Mabidi
12. Mhani Monyisa