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.
In the 1930’s African Jazz Music became an important feature in the lives of many urban Africans and some remarkable talent began to emerge in Johannesburg.
In 1952 the Union of Southern African Artists came into being with the dual function of promoting the talent that had already been shown to exist in the musical and dramatic field and to act as an Artist’s Equity. The union promoted Township Jazz concerts which were the first large scale African entertainments to be presented in the capital of South Africa, and arranged for white and non-European audiences to see and hear a wide range of entertainment by black and colored artists.
South African Institute for Race Relations presents African Jazz and Variety
The Woody Woodpeckers -Fanagalo
Fanagalo is a pidgin or simplified language, based primarily on Zulu. It is used as a lingua franca, mainly by workers in the gold, diamond, coal and copper mines.
This rare 10″ includes two songs by The Woody Woodpeckers, a group around songwriter and musician, Victor Ndlazilwane, who was awarded the Metro FM Lifetime Achievement award in 2006 in South Africa. During his early career, Ndlazilwane was part of the legendary Woody Woodpeckers group as well as the Jazz Ministers, both of which were signed to Gallo Record Company. The Jazz Ministers were the first African jazz band to perform at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival in New York.
King Jeff & His African Jazz Troupe -Rock Around The Clock
At the end of the 40’s and mid-50’s when Rock ‘n Roll swept through the world like a tsunami, a bleached derivative of American Jazz and R&B music was popular in South Africa. Black and white musicians, singers and performers catered for the refined taste of the well heeled visitors and sophisticated dancers that frequented the big hotels and nightclubs of the big cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. There existed a circuit of hip hangouts and palaces of nocturnal pleasures; theaters, nightclubs, bars and restaurants where live music was an extra attraction to the fine dining and luxurious surroundings. Valet parking included. But the jungle rhythms of the American originals were a wee bit too adventurous to serve as a soundtrack for an exquisite night out at The Colony Hotel or The Beachcomber. So more musicians, singers and bands turned towards the then popular sound of the Mediterranean countries like Italy or Portugal. Many landed in Johannesburg , the city of gold & diamonds where riches and fame was to be found aplenty.
Such a nightclub/restaurant was Franco’s, located in downtown Johannesburg. The nightclub was a famous hangout for the city’s well-heeled crowd, musical entertainment consisted mainly of evergreens from around the world, sometimes local songs were included in the repertoire. A mixed bag really, something you can dance to or just listen to in the safety of a segregated environment.
The Beachcomber in Durban and The Grand Hotel Beira in Mozambique were similar hangouts, where well-to-do visitors from Portuguese Angola, the Belgian Congo or the Rhodesias could unwind on a dream holiday. Or they came to make a business deal, or simply to be entertained by the best of performers around.
The Three Petersen Brothers and Nico Carstens and his Orchestra
The Three Petersen Brothers, Mervyn, Basil and Andy, are really brothers who belong to one of the oldest theatrical families in South Africa. They are versatile and musically gifted, touring the country, appearing on stage, in variety and as cabaret artists in every nightclub in South Africa, in addition to regular radio performances. ‘On Safari’ is their first LP recording together with the famous Nico Carstens Orchestra.
from the original liner notes by Anton De Waal of ‘On Safari’ Columbia 33JS 11011 South Africa
Three Petersen Brothers -Voom-Ba Voom
Three Petersen Brothers -Pondoland
Three Petersen Brothers -Jo’burg Samba
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers
“Gold Rock (You’veGot to Dig, Dig, Dig for Gold)” isthe title of a 78 rpm by Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers. The song explains why a small settlement in Gauteng could grow into the famed capital of ‘eGoli’, a Zulu word meaning “place of gold”. Johannesburg could not be bettered as an appropriate locale for the story of all those who came starry eyed to the big city, chasing a dream.
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers -Gold Rock
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers -Hamba Lala (African Calypso)
John Massey and his Warriors -African Rock ‘n Roll
Ray Phiri (born 23 March 1947, Hermansberg, near Nelspruit, South Africa – died 12 July 2017, Nelspruit, South Africa), whose guitar work reached a worldwide audience through his distinctive contributions to Paul Simon‘s hit Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints LPs, has died at the age of 70.
The BBC brings word of Phiri’s death, which took place at a clinic in the South African city of Nelspruit two months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He’d been hospitalized for several weeks, during which time he was the unwilling focus of a crowdfunding campaign to help defray his medical costs; according to an interview excerpted in the BBC’s report, he asked fans to let him “suffer [in peace with my] pain, on my own with my dignity.”
Phiri’s last public request reflects his lifelong approach to dealing with tragedy and misfortune. Among South Africa’s most widely respected musicians, he rose to prominence with his group Stimela (“train” in the Nguni language), a pioneering fusion band whose blend of smooth jazz with the Afropop mbaqanga sound proved popular — although not with the South African government in the apartheid era, during which Stimela’s records were occasionally banned and the state reportedly even tried spying on the group.
International stardom for Phiri proved somewhat fleeting — although his beautiful tone is instantly recognizable to anyone who listened to Simon’s music during the Graceland and Rhythm of the Saintsera, his tenure in Simon’s band was fairly brief given the massive success those albums enjoyed, and in later years, he alleged that he’d never been fairly credited or compensated for his work. Speaking with the Sunday Times, he spoke of his feud with Simon, but concluded — as he so often did — on an optimistic note.
“There’s bad blood with Paul Simon,” said Phiri. “He never gave me credit on the album for the songs I wrote, and financially we hardly got any royalties. But maybe I wouldn’t have been able to handle all that wealth. I sleep at night, I have my sanity and I enjoy living. The big rock ‘n’ roll machine did not munch me.”
In more recent years, Phiri continued to deal with personal struggles, including the death of his third wife in a 2014 car crash, yet he saw his musical legacy continue to grow — particularly at home, where the fall of South Africa’s racist apartheid regime opened an era in which his talents were not only acknowledged but valued by the state. In the wake of his passing, the African National Congress issued a statement praising Phiri’s inestimable contributions to the national culture.
“Ray Phiri was a voice for the voiceless and a legend of our time,” it reads. “An immensely gifted composer, vocalist and guitarist, he breathed consciousness and agitated thoughts of freedom through his music … He has played his role in unearthing and support new talent in the industry and has been an ardent and vocal advocate of the call for greater investment in local content development and the development of the industry as a whole.”
listen to this radio show with some truly rare South African 78’s like Black Duke & Peter Makana’s “Baboon Shepherd” as featured on Soul Safari’s last compilation Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 4 LP
On this edition of the Kipper the Cat Show an amazing selection of Township South African 78s can be heard.
The 78s cover roughly a ten year period from about1957 to 1967 (yes they were still making 78s in South Africa then) and amongst others features Kwelas, Sax Jives, and some stunning vocal harmony group records.
The tracks chosen were lovingly selected jointly by the Kipper The Cat team and afrrican Music specialists Lucas Keen and Chris Peckham.
1-Stamkoko -Izintombi Zesi manje manje (1965) 02:16
2-Udali– Maphela (1960) 02:38
3-Sabela –Maphela (1960) 02:30
4-Usana Lwam’– Mississippi Brothers & Beauty Diloane (1940) 02:36
5-Ukhiye–Susan Gabashane & Her Honeybees (1960) 02:46
6.Ukuhlupheka – Susan Gabashane & Her Honeybees (1960) 02:35
7.Umsakazo E Grahamstown– Alabhama Kids (1960) 02:27
8.Lizzy–Mississippi Brothers (1940) 02:17
9.Asinamali– Alabhama Kids (1960) 02:21
1.Baboon Shepherd–Black Duke & Peter Makana (1950) 02:35
2.Battle Of The Flutes–Black Duke & Peter Makana (1950) 02:37
3.Shukuma Duke-Black Duke (1950) 02:27
4.Duke Blues-Black Duke (1950) 03:00
5.Black John–Peter Makana (1950) 02:20
6.Blood Mixture-Peter Makana – (1950) 02:15
7.Egoli Zinyozi –Alfred Dlezi & Dlamini (1950) 02:31