Two shellac 78’s by the Manhattan Brothers this week from my Karoo box
. Great music and some rare tunes as well. Have these ever been released on CD?
The exact date of these releases can’t be traced so I guess that 1950 seems reasonable. The Gallotone Singer disc has been pressed in the UK and predates the other by a few years probably.
The song “Marie” written in 1929 by Irving Berlin shows that the Manhattan Brothers were also influenced by American showtunes.
Their sound drew on American ragtime, jive, swing, doo-wop, as well as African choral and Zulu harmonies. The group, formed in 1946 in Johannesburg, was very popular in the 1940s and 1950s, during the Apartheid Era. Members of the group included Joe Mogotsi, Ronnie Sehume, Rufus Khoza and the late Nathan Mdledle. Miriam Makeba, who went on to international fame, started her career with The Manhattan Brothers and was part of the group for much of the 1950s. Even Dolly Rathebe joined the group for national tours and performances.
Recording their first singles in 1948, the group quickly became superstars in their homeland. The Manhattan Brothers were accompanied by the finest musicians in South Africa. Their band, which was led by composer and saxophonist Mackay Davashe, featured saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, drummer General Duze, and pianist Sol Klaaste. The band later added Hugh Masakela and Jonas Gwangwa and was renamed the Jazz Dazzlers.
Joe Mogotsi died on 19 May 2011 in Johannesburg, following a long illness.
*this article contains excerpts from a biography by Craig Harris