The late 1960s saw the rise of soul music from the United States in South Africa. Singers like Wilson Pickett and Percy Sledge were very popular, as well as the sound of instrumental groups like Billy Larkin & The Delegates and especially Booker T & The MG’s. The latter inspired many local South African musicians to enter the field with an electric organ, a bass-and-drum rhythm section and an electric guitar. The Sound of A New Generation was born and lasted until the mid 70s when disco took over…
Combined with a typical South African approach the sound evolved slowly into a funky soul-jazz mutation, released on small independent labels like Dawn or Atlantic City. But more on that later…
To kick off a new series of instrumental soul-jazz records in which I highlight some exceptional great local artists here is the LP SUPER SOUL BY THE SOUNDS on the Number One label from 1974 . Not much is known on the members of this band that consisted of mainly session musicians; C. Dlathu who went to produce singer Paul Ndlovu later on in the 80s, C. Malete who was the drummer in 1987 on Margaret Singana’s world hit “We Are Growing – Shaka Zulu”, B.D.Seathlolo and S. Msimongo. The music is a great mix of jazz, funk and soul, fantastic rhythms….
at Soul Safari we love great LP cover art…and travel by airliner. When traveling by plane was still glamorous fun….
Founded in 1953, Trek Airways was the only South African airline apart from SAA to fly international services. At the beginning, flights were operated from Europe to South Africa with one over-night stop. The aircraft used at the time was the Vickers VC.1 Viking. Since the Viking did not have the range for the operations, they were replaced by the Douglas DC-4 and Lockheed L-749A Constellation. Later on it operated the Lockheed L-1649 Starliner.
Trek operated from London, Düsseldorf, Vienna and Luxembourg to Windhoek and Johannesburg with two or three intermediate stops.
In 1964 a co-operation with Luxair was reached whereby Luxair took connecting passengers to other European airports.
In was in 1968 that the first jet aircraft was used when a Boeing 707 was introduced, but due to the embargo of South African registered aircraft due to Apartheid Trek had to suspend flights for a period of time. Those operations were re-established in 1991 and once again a co-operation with Luxair was established whereby Trek used a Luxair/Luxavia Boeing 747-SP painted in the old Trek color scheme. It was also during this time that Trek founded a subsidiary called Flitestar using Airbus A320 and ATR-72 aircraft. In 1991, politics changed again and the South African Government deregulated its aviation policy. Trek Airways applied for and was granted a license for a South African domestic service, in direct competition to SAA. Flitestar was born operating Airbus A320’s. On 11 April 1994, Trek ceased all operations.
But the most favourite of this gallery of airline travel must be “Jet Ride!” by Duffy Ravenscroft. Simply for its space age artwork and the old South African Airways logo and cabin crew message system….
South African writer, actor and writer Nakhane Touré (31) will not be silenced. Resistance defies with a raised head, with a somewhat mocking look in his beautiful androgynous face. His vulnerability is his strength, Nakhane is a queer artist on a mission.
Last weekend he was a defining artist at the Rotterdam music festival ‘Motel Mozaïque’ where he performed to promote his new album ‘You Will Not Die’. An emotionally charged, loneliness-drenched collection of his own written songs in the soul and electro styles, in which he sings about his homosexuality and how he crawled under the yoke of a homophobic South African church community.
But not only as a musician does Nakhane attract attention, also as an actor. With his leading role in the controversial film of the South African director John Trengrove ‘The Wound’ (2017), he explained the taboo of being a young gay man in the Xhosa community. Xhosa is one of the largest ethnic populations within the Rainbow Nation.
The film caused a lot of commotion in South Africa when it appeared, although there was an Oscar nomination for best foreign film. After intense protests, the film was banned from the South African cinemas early this year. Nakhane felt broken as he mentioned on Twitter; ‘raw as a fresh wound’.
Broken but not defeated, his music frees his soul he says. On his album ‘You Will Not Die’ Nakhane raises all the heavy subjects and taboos in his Xhosa community while coming out as a gay man; self-acceptance, finding an identity, anonymous sex, confusion, leaving his church and religion and finding his own spirituality.
source: NRC Handelsblad 19th April 2018- Amanda Kuyper
Originally released in 1979 in Nigeria this album remains one of the highly prized ‘holy grails’ of African music. Basa Basa Experience – Together We Win Label: Take Your Choice Records (TYC) – TYC 115-L
Both albums by Piliso and Basa Basa Experience were produced by Themba Matebese, a member of Nigerian band T-Fire. Other members are Igo Chico, Kenneth Okulolo, Lekan Animashaun, Mike Collins, Tobahoun Abalo, Tunde Williams. In T-Fire Themba Matebese was responsible for the vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion as well as for the composition of most of their songs. He also wrote ‘African Soul Power’, the standout track on ‘Together We Win’. The album got repressed on Peach River Records in Holland in 1983 under a new title ‘Homowo’, the group name was shortened to Basa Basa.
Liner notes; Basa Basa is a highlife band, the nuclues being the Nyaka Twins from…
Legendary South African trumpeter and anti-apartheid movement figure, Hugh Masekela has died at aged 78, after a battle with prostate cancer, according to his family and the government.
Born on April 4, 1939, Masekela first picked up a trumpet after seeing the film “Young Man With a Horn” and encouraged by activist Father Trevor Huddleston. Often described as the “father of South African jazz”, Masekela was an icon of South Africa’s Sophiatown, the political and cultural enclave of Johannesburg that was razed by apartheid police but remains a symbol of black freedom.
‘Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ is probably one of the most impressive excursions of a jazz trumpeter into the deep heartlands of Africa; Hugh Masekela meets Nigerian band Hedzoleh Soundz.
After his big hit success with ‘Grazing in the grass’, which went to #1 in both the pop and R&B charts in 1968, Masekela joined his former wife Miriam Makeba in Guinea, Africa for a tour. It was there that he met the Ghanian band Hedzoleh Soundz, an extremely talented band known for blending the ancient rhythmic traditions of their native Ghana with American jazz and Latin music.
At the time Fela Kuti was taking Africa and the world by storm with his brand of Nigerian Jazz Funk. The interlocking rhythms over which his saxophone could endlessly groove were reminiscent of the style of funk patterns that James Brown pioneered in the U.S.
Hedzoleh Soundz combines the rhythmic traditions of their native Ghana while Masekela adds the improvisational drive of jazz. The album ‘Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria in 1973 and features such tracks as ‘Languta’, an irresistible chunk of infectious Afro beat with an inspired Masekela singing and blowing on top.
Happy New Year 2018! And what better way to celebrate the New Year with some classic Cape Comic Songs of The Cape Town Street Parade then and now…
***The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival is a long running New Year tradition in the Colored Community of South Africa. Unknown when it actually started, it is rumored to have begun when a group of African-American minstrels docked in Cape Town in the late 1800s then entertained sailors with their spontaneous musical performances. The modern day Carnival started in Cape Town’s District Six, an area that is best known for the forced removed of over 60,000 residents during the 1970’s apartheid regime. Since the beginning, every January 2nd the self proclaimed ‘Coons’ parade the streets of Cape Town with marching bands, songs, and dancers all in bright colorful outfits. These troupes then compete over the month in categories ranging from best band performance to best solo song to best outfit. Farouk Jacob of the Ken Fac troop explains, “The carnival is very important to us [because the second new year is a time when we forget our problems]. We forget about what else we all have, we forget about things happening in your home, we all joining in and have fun, we don’t want to think about any of our problems. After February then we start thinking about our problems again. Thats why [for us, its actually the time when we all come together]. Its the time when we all experience the same feeling, this is the time when we come and we have this joyous feeling in our hearts and want to share and give to people.” Photos: Charlie Shoemaker***
Gabriel Bayman croaks Cape comic songs
Backed by Ballie & his Bolle
RCA 32-248 South Africa
Over the years the Coloured people of the Cape Peninsula have developed a musical sound of their own, which is as much part of the Cape’s heritage as it’s sparkling white beaches and autumn-hued vinyeards. Drifting on the evening air the plink-a-plonk of banjos and guitars and almost brazen sound of saxophones pour from labourers cottages on the farms of Constantia or from the warren-like, sprawling slum of District Six; from shanties tucked amid the Port Jackson Willows and sand dunes of the Cape Flats or the neatly terraced fisherman’s cottages of Hout Bay comes the sound of the Cape Carnival Beat.
And with the advent of the New Year all the joy and some of the sadness of the people whips though the streets of Cape Town in a kaleidoscope of coloured silks and beaming faces during the Carnival.
The songs which they sing –many of them wreathed in passed history, others reflecting history being made today- and the music which they make are as distinctively part of the Peninsula as the heavy white clouds hanging over Table Mountain –the so-called Table Cloth.
Gabriel Bayman is well known as broadcaster and for his characterisations of the Cape Coloured Folk whom he knows so well.
Though he did occasional stage work, including Waiting for Godot (1959) for the National Theatre Organisation (NTO), The Amorous Prawn (1961) at the Alexander Theatre, The Physicists (1963) for the Langford-Inglis Company, A Flea in Her Ear (1968) for the Johannesburg Repertory Players and Canterbury Tales (musical) (1970-71) at the Civic Theatre in Johannesburg, radio listeners were frequently exposed to his voice, even though they did not always realise that it was him. Amongst the programmes in which he featured were 33 Half Moon Street, written first by Adrian Steed and then by Douglas Laws (1965-66), General Motors on Safari, produced by Michael McCabe (1965-69), Squad Cars, directed by David Gooden (1968-85), Eloquent Silence (1969) produced by Cecil Jubber and The Challenge of Space, with Donald Monat (1969-70).
And Bayman starred in a few locally produced movies as well; “The Cape Town Affair” is his best known, a 1967 glamorized spy film produced by 20th Century Fox at Killarney Film Studios in South Africa.
Commentators describe the film as dull, slow-paced, poorly acted and tedious. The film does, however, paint an interesting picture of life in South Africa under apartheid as seen from the point of view of official government policy. All the leading characters are white and even street scenes contain few non-whites.
He also brought out a number of long-playing records, including Die Stories van Oompie Boetie Baradien, Kindersprokies Oorvertel and Gabriel Bayman Croaks Cape Comic Songs. (FO)
The origins of many of the ‘moppies’and ‘goemaliedjies’which you will hear are often obscured by time. In the late 1940’s one of the main hit numbers of the year was the song “Mona Lisa”, which blared from juke-boxes and radios throughout the country. The Coloureds took it to their hearts and developed it into a song along their own particular-and sometimes peculiar lines. Every year the winning troupe of the Carnival sings a particular song on its way back to District Six as it marches along Somerset Road. Invariably it is an adaption of the ‘hit of the year’and in this instance ‘Mona Lisa’ was the song. Naturally the words and even the theme was altered, and it ended up as a bawdry, frivolous street song which caught the enthousiasm of everyone who heard it.
Perhaps the most delightful of all the lyrics on this record is ‘Ry hom, boetie ry hom….’ A racing song if ever there was one! In the old days, when races were run on the Green Point Common this is a song that certainly was sung. A lady visitor from Britain wrote in the 1860s “how curious it is to see one of our elegant English jockeys being beaten to the post by a wizened little Hottentot”. One can only imagine that the ‘wizened little’ jockey concerned was egged on to the winning post with this cry.
For any South African, English or Afrikaans speaking, this record is a real party piece, guaranteed to set feet tapping and partners twirling to the ending, the traditional farewell, “Baiei Terima Kassie”, “Maak Vir Julle Klaar Om Nou Huistoe te Gaan” want Tante Fiena draai, tot die eerste hoender kraai.
one post a day for the remainder of 2017 featuring a selection of some of my best finds of African music last year…not necessary brand new releases. Mostly vintage records found during my travels all over the world.
Best African music finds 2017 # 5
The New Brothers -Emakhuneni
CTV International CT 86 1990 South Africa
‘Emakhuneni’ was produced by Dumisani Ngcobo & Felani Gumbi who also wrote most of the material on this rare album. The music is a gentle heady mix of funky organ and electric guitar driven rhythms. But the singing style and harmonies prove to be the real turn on for me. Listen to a few of my favourite tracks of this album.
Great cover by the way! Who came up with the motor helmets first? Daft Punk or The New Brothers?? I guess The New Brothers….