Friday 30 October 2015

The Fragile: Reggae Bump

The more regular visitors among you might have noticed less frequent posts lately. Not to worry, we still have plenty of out of print and deleted material that we would like to document and share by means of this blog. It is just that all four of us have recently found our "other" lives demanding lots of our time.

While the recording shared today is well worth a listen, this post also addresses an oppressive issue that many South African musicians in the 60s and 70s were faced with - feeling forced to "allow" producers to claim they wrote songs that were actually written by band members. Some say similar dynamics still happen with the DJs and producers of today?

Not only did producers active during the 1960s to the 1980s falsely claim compositions in their own name, these producers then registered copyright and pocketed all subsequent composer royalties. In the sound-clip below you can hear Johnny Sello Mothopeng of Batsumi telling it like it is .... "David Thekwane, Hamilton Nzimande, West Nkosi, Strike Vilakazi, Rupert Bopape, they all stole songs". This sound-clip was recorded when I visited Johnny Mothopeng in Johannesburg earlier this year, and is shared with his permission.

Back to the music shared here. As a producer for the small independent record label "Meritone". Naftali Dali is credited with writing these three chilled out South African "Manenburg-inspired" 70s bump-style tunes. These particular tunes have a little extra with an mbaqanga and blues influence.

It is again a pity that the session musicians gathered for this recording are not credited - they are pretty good. I particularly like the tone and approach of the saxophonist, the solo runs providing ample evidence of this likely being a well known musician moonlighting for an extra flat fee payment. 

  A quick search of my digitised records shows that Naftali Dali is credited with more than fifty tracks in the 1960s and 1970s, often associated with the Meritone label, On 78rpm he features for "Hi-Fi Big Beat". Dali dabbled in soul, bump and mbqanga. He is credited with writing many tracks for "Dudu and the Bigtime Boys". "The Moonlight Expressions" and even had a band, "Dali's Beauty Queens". I have no evidence to suggest that Naftali Dali was among those producers who "stole" songs.

Download link here

Monday 26 October 2015

Huntley Archive to be housed at ILAM

I am excited to announce an important milestone in preserving and making Ian Bruce Huntley's extraordinary archive of jazz audio and images accessible.

In celebrating this deposit agreement Electric Jive shares some recordings from the archive that have been re-mastered by MiloŇ° Latislav as a voluntary contribution to demonstrate how such recordings can be enhanced. Thanks again MiloŇ°.

Ian has preserved around 1500 images of jazz performance from all over South Africa, and also in Lesotho when Dizzy Gillespie visited. Ian selected 120 of these images to be presented in the book "Keeping Time" - click on the cover image to the right of this post if you have not yet visited the Huntley Archive on Electric Jive website. In addition to freely accessing 58 hours of music, you can also download a free copy of the book there.

Ian has now agreed that his original reel-to-reel tapes will become deposited and preserved at the International Library of African Music. The Director of ILAM, Prof Diane Thram, has also agreed to upload the full audio files to the ILAM website and make them freely available for anyone wishing to download these. It is agreed that "ILAM will make no sale or commercial use of the audio archive or its contents nor will it allow anyone else to make sale or commercial use of the audio archive".

In addition to committing staff time to processing the archive and making it accessible, ILAM has committed a sizable sum of money for "professional re-touching of a further 350 images selected by Ian for the purposes of re-sale via editorial e-commerce". Africa Media Online have already scanned these images and are in the process getting them ready to go online. Ian will benefit from some of the income generated from any sales of these images.

The enhanced audio shared here today is three tracks recorded on the occasion of the very last time that Johnny Dyani and Dudu Pukwana performed in South Africa, days before going into exile with Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes via the Antibes Jazz Festival in July 1964. Captured at “The Room At The Top” in Cape Town by Ian Bruce Huntley, this live gig represents a poignant last union and “point of fracture” from which six very talented artists struck out to seek their respective musical fortunes.

Also shared are four tracks recorded by the Jazz Disciples in the same year.

Before Dudu Pukwana joins in for the last two tracks, Ronnie Beer demonstrates his class with the band rendering his own upbeat composition, ‘Immediately’. Bra Tete does his own bit of vocal scatting following his fingers in joyful moments of letting go.

The towering Dudu Pukwana summonses attention in the opening of ‘Green Dolphin Street’ before the conversation meanders comfortably along, providing spaces for exploratory solos. It is an historical sadness that a beautiful Pukwana solo is abruptly interrupted for what was the end of one side of Ian’s reel-to-reel tape.
Each listening of Dudu Pukwana’s plaintive alto sax on the essentially gloomy final track, “Close Your Eyes” sparks my own imagining of emotional turmoil and uncertainty. Introduced by Dennis Mpale on trumpet over an ever-swinging Dyani-Dayimani rhythm, and preceded by Ronnie Beer on tenor sax, Pukwana enters in the seventh minute in muted protest, which unwinds over ten minutes of exquisite contemplation. But then, approaching seventeen minutes in, the ever playful Tete Mbambisa (piano) starts to swing with Dyani and Dayimani, letting out yelps and whoops of appreciation in the music’s moment. Following a brief Dyani solo, Ronnie Beer interjects on tenor sax in the 21st minute to ‘hayibo’ shouts of appreciation, followed by Dennis Mpale’s uplifting trumpet. Somehow, after that Pukwana’s final and brief closing re-entry sounds more resolute.
Johnny Dyani - Bass; Dudu Pukwana - Alto Saxophone (tracks three and four only); Ronnie Beer - Tenor Saxophone; Dennis Mpale - Trumpet; Tete Mbambisa - Piano; Max Dayimani - Drums
1. Immediately – (Ronnie Beer) (15:46)
2. Green Dolphin Street (16:01)
3. Close Your Eyes – Bernice Patkere (23:55)
Download HERE
The Jazz Disciples: Thibault Square Recording Studio, Cape Town - 1964
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?
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.
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. Leads Dwana (Tete Mbambisa) (8:13)
3. Immediately (Ronnie Beer) (7:55)
4. Green Dolphin Street (7:20)
Download HERE

Monday 19 October 2015

Atte (aka Dudu Pukwana and Friends) - Sondela (1977)

Following our post last week featuring exiled South African bassist Harry Miller here is another long forgotten gem from Dudu Pukwana's catalogue, named the album Sondela which is credited to the group Atte - The Sound of South Africa. Released on the Irish label Claddagh Records back in 1977 this features the likes of Dudu Pukwana (keyboards, alto sax), Churchill Jolobe (drums, percussion), Ernest Mothle (bass), Sello Josh Makhene (convos), Frank Roberts (keyboards) and vocals from Sonia Lekhela, sisters Lindiwe and Tiny Conco and Mphiwa Yengwa.

An impressive discography of Dudu Pukwana can be found at the Wall of Sound blog here.

Atte - Sondela (1977, Claddagh Records)
01. Suganga
02. Malaika
03. Suliram
04. Nome
05. Seth Gaza
06. Sondela
07. Ngomso
08. Soon One Morning
09. Siphamandla
10. Saduva
Produced by John Wood

Listen via MF

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Harry Miller - Children at Play (1974)

Today's share comes from the back catalogue of the mighty Ogun label and features label co-founder  Harry Miller on double bass, flute, percussion and effects. For those that love the sound of solo bass this is a lovely South African tinged recording. Sadly most of South African jazz bassist Harry Miller's recorded output is no longer in print, although if you are resourceful you may be able to track down original vinyl and some of the CDs. (Try the discog's site for a view of Harry Miller's impressive and near complete discography with some items for sale).

Miller was born in Cape Town and in his youth played in rock and pop bands such as the Vikings and Manfred Mann. In the early 1960s he left to settle in England and soon became an established part of the South African exile jazz community that re-invigourated British jazz in the sixties and seventies. He recorded with the likes of Mike Westbrook, Chris McGregor, John Surman, Mike Cooper, Louis Mofolo, Keith Tippett and Elton Dean. Towards the end of the seventies he moved to the Netherlands before tragically passing away in 1983.

His widow Hazel Miller still runs the Ogun record label today. If you can get hold of a copy then the 1999 compilation and retrospective "The Collection" is well worth seeking out. Until then try this vinyl transfer that we're sharing today. 

Harry Miller - Children at Play (Ogun OG200, 1974)
1. H and H
2. Children at Play (Phase I and II)
3. Homeboy
4. Foregone Conclusion
5. Children at Play (Phase III)

Multi-track recorded, mixed and edited by Keith Beal in Hastings
Produced by Harry Miller and Keith Beal
Cover drawing by Gerard Eaves
Cover design by John Eaves
Photography by George Hallett
All compositions by Harry Miller and published by Ogun Recordings Ltd.

LINK (Updated 16/10/15)  MF