Ala Pikin Nengre from Big Jones is the soundtrack of the 1960s documentary ‘Faja Lobbi’ by Dutch filmmaker Herman van der Horst. The award winning documentary shows the different population groups of Suriname: from the Indians, Maroons, Creoles, Hindustani, Javanese, Lebanese to the Chinese.
With Ala Pikin Nengre, Big Jones sings of the city of Paramaribo and the Market Square of Paramaribo. The music that Big Jones and his band made popular is called ‘Kawina’ and can be considered as the first real Surinamese ‘Folk’. The music was played during ‘dansi dansi’s’ (festivals) and ‘verjari’s’ (birthdays). In terms of instruments, the composition of the bands changed over time. The texts varied from improvisation to old stories, such as that of the spider ‘Anansi’. Big Jones was one of the first Surinamese artists whose music was recorded on an LP.
Strut Records presents the definitive remastered edition of Miriam Makeba’s ‘Pata Pata’ for the latest instalment of Strut’s Original Masters album reissue series.
The all-time classic of South African music, and international breakthrough for Makeba, has been mastered by The Carvery from the original reel to reel tapes,available in its mono and stereo versions for the first time. Living in exile in the US after the anti-apartheid film ‘Come Back, Africa’ gained international attention, she quickly built her career in New York during the ‘60s, mentored by Harry Belafonte.
After a period with RCA, she revisited to one of her older hits ‘Pata Pata’ with early vocal harmony group The Skylarks. Rerecording this time with producer Jerry Ragovoy, the new version brought a lighter uptempo R’nB arrangement, adding some English lyrics. “It was my first truly big seller,” Makeba recalled “In the discotheques, they invented a new dance called the ‘Pata Pata’ where couples dance apart and then reach out and touch each other. I went to Argentina for a concert, and across South America, they are singing my song.”
Other songs on the album include a version of the traditional Xhosa classic, ‘Click Song Number One’ (‘Qongqothwane’), the atmospheric ‘West Wind’, later famously covered by her friend Nina Simone, and a version of Tilahun Gessesse’s ‘Yetentu Tizaleny’ which Makeba learned on a trip to Addis to perform for Haile Selassie at the Organisation Of African Unity.
Physical formats also feature brand new sleeve notes alongside rare photos from the time of recording and session details.
‘Pata Pata’ is released on 6th September on 2LP, 1CD, streaming and digital.
South African singer and musician Johnny Clegg has passed away. He was 66 years old and died of the effects of pancreatic cancer. Clegg is one of the symbols of opposition to the racist apartheid regime in South Africa: although it was forbidden, he founded interracial groups. Long before American singer Paul Simon discovered South African music, Johnny Glegg was working with local Zulu singers and musicians.
In South Africa itself, Clegg is regarded as a symbol of the multiracial rainbow nation of the post-apartheid era.
In 1969 he founded his first interracial group Juluka. Their music was not played on South African radio, because interracial groups were prohibited under the apartheid regime. Juluka’s music is politically engaged: various group members were regularly arrested and concerts of the group often interrupted.
With his second group Savuka (“we are awake” in Zulu), Johnny Clegg breaks through internationally. Johnny Clegg and Savuka brings a mix of western and African music long before rock groups like Talking Heads or Malcolm McLaren, spiritual father and manager of Bow Wow Wow a.o. infused pop music with African rhythms. The lyrics of Savuka are often a mix of English and Zulu. In France Glegg is nicknamed “the white Zulu”.
Well-known songs from Johnny Clegg are “Scatterlings of Africa” – which was featured in the soundtrack of the movie “Rain Man” in 1988 -, “Asimbonanga” – “We never saw him”, about Nelson Mandela – and “Dela”.
for the Holland Festival on Saturday 22nd June 2019 I will be reviewing and playing South African music during The Listening Party. Like this fresh new sound by Bongeziwe Mabandla – “Ndibuyile” (Popsicle Studio Session) and “Yini” from a live performance at The Lyric Theatre
today’s post features a series of records that fits perfectly into my favorite category ‘Music For Restaurants, Nightclubs & Hotel Lounges’ with gorgeous covers. After a few years of digging I finally completed a full set of 5 volumes of ‘In Tune with South Africa’ by keyboard player Albie Louw. And after some research I found out that the guy was more then just tickling the ivory….read more
The following is extracted from Volume III of the 1986 edition of South African Music Encyclopedia (J.P. Malan, ISBN 0 19 570363 4)
ALBERTUS JOHANNES (ALBIE) LOUW, baritone, born 10 February 1926 near Malmesbury, South Africa
After initial training in pianoforte and singing at Stellenbosch, Louw continued his study at the College of Music in Cape Town. His pianoforte playing was supervised by Cameron Taylor and Lili Kraus and for singing he successively had Lucy Greathead, John Andrews, Alessandro Rota and Gregorio Fiasconaro as teachers. During his College years he became a member of the University’s Opera Group for whom (up to 1970) he interpreted a range of repertoire operas which included Don Giovanni, Tosca and Le Nozze di Figaro. He accompanied this group on their tour to England and Scotland in 1953 and sang in The Consul by Menotti. He had an exceptional occasion in 1961 when he interpreted the title role at the premiere of John Joubert’s Silas Marner in Cape Town. As a pianist he played with the Cape Town City Orchestra at least once in a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Since the establishment of the Regional Councils for the Performing Arts (1962) he has undertaken concert tours and the singing of opera roles for CAPAB, NAPAC and PACT.
Springbok Radio’s “Shell Show”
His main interest, and the one to which he has devoted the most time and attention, lies in the domain of light music, especially in the world of broadcasting for which he has performed both as pianist and as singer and in combination with his own Albie Louw Salon Orchestra in the transmission of innumerable entertainments. His orchestra became renowned through years of participation in Springbok Radio’s “Shell Show”, often in arrangements by Louw himself. Another popular group which owes its existence to his initiative were the Safari Singers, who interpreted his arrangements of folk songs, as well as his original lyrics. Their performances were characterised by Louw directing, singing and playing the piano at the same time.
In 1978 he orchestrated and conducted for NAPAC the musical “Aladdin” and in 1979 he conducted “Annie” during the last two weeks of its season in Cape Town. In the same year he undertook a concert tour with his Safari Singers for CAPAB, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the FAK. He has supported the tenor Gé Korsten in various shows, e.g. in the TV show for which he composed the song In die Kaap Maak die Boere Lekker Wyn. Albie Louw also had a studio in Cape Town where he taught singing and pianoforte playing.
not an unusual practice with the big record companies…when no individual art work was available for a certain record then another cover was used. Just like this original 7″ ep by the Benoni Flute Quintet and the Alexandra Shamber Boys and Girls that became a twin cover for Albie Louw ‘In Tune with South Africa Volume 5 -Kwela’
my best festival experience this year definitely was in South Africa in the city of East London, nowadays called Buffalo City, during the first big Maskandi festival on 2nd March 19….what an amazing pow wow of tribes! Ngiyabonga!
The program was spread over the whole day, from noon till midnight so I only had the change to witness only a few artists and dance groups….here is my impression of that magical day.
Dorothy Masuka was one of the great South African jazz singers of the 1950s. Together with Dolly Rathebe and Miriam Makeba she became an iconic singer and writer of memorable tunes like Pata Pata, Kwawuleza and Into Yam. Many of her songs were recorded by artists like Makeba.
“ Her music was the soundtrack of some our most joyful moments, the light of or souls during our darkest hours” said Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s Arts & Culture minister following her death.
Masuka had been suffering from complications related to hypertension, after having a mild stroke in 2018. One of her last stage performances was at Winnie Mandela’s funeral in that same year.
Go Go Suffering
Dorothy Masuka was born in 1935 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Her parents migrated to South Africa when she was 12 years old. Despite her parents’ disapproval, Masuka dropped out of school at 16 to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer.
She signed a deal to record with Troubadour Records and after a spell with the African Ink Spots she left for Zimbabwe to join The Golden Rhythm Crooners. But she was soon on her way back to Johannesburg and in the train she penned ‘Hamba Hamba Nontsokolo’ loosely translated as ‘go, go suffering’.
The song became her biggest hit and one of the most popular songs of the 1950s. It is regarded as an African classic and remains her signature tune to this day. By 1953, when she was 18, Masuka was already a fully fledged professional musician and, along with Makeba and Hugh Masekela, she toured with Alf Herbert’s African Jazz & Variety Show and with the musical King Kong.
She also performed with the Harlem Swingsters in the mid-1950s and endeared herself to a wide audience with her provocative compositions that riled the apartheid regime. In 1961, the Special Branch seized the master recordings of her composition ‘Lumumba’ which paid tribute to Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Congo. She also dared to write a political song about the then Prime Minister Dr Malan and was exiled for over 30 years. In Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and the UK Masuka campaigned for the liberation of SA through her music.
After many years working as a flight attendant for Zambian Airways, she returned to South Africa at the beginning of the 1990’s. A few years later she was a recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga Silver from the SA government. Dorothy Masuka was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in the US in 2002.