Hugh Masekela (1939-2018) South Africa’s godfather of jazz, has died

Hugh Masekela, South African trumpeter, has died after battle with prostate cancer -photo Bra Hugh (AP Photo-Jeff Christensen)
photo Bra Hugh (AP Photo-Jeff Christensen)

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.

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 ‘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.

‘Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ -Languta

Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz

players:

  • Hugh Masekela – Trumpet & Vocals
  • Stanley Kwesi Todd – Electric Bass & Vocals
  • James Kwaku Morton – Congas & Vocals
  • Nat “Leepuma” Hammond – Congas, Flute & Vocals
  • Richard Neesai “Jagger” Botchway – Guitar
  • Isaac Asante – Talking Drum, Percussion & Vocals
  • Samuel Nortey – Percussion & Vocals
  • Acheampong Welbeck – Drums

tracks;

  1. Languta
  2. Kaa Ye Oya
  3. Adade
  4. Yei Baa Gbe Wolo
  5. Patience
  6. When
  7. Nye Tamo Ame
  8. Rekpete

Blue Thumb Chisa BTS 62 USA

Buy the original album here

Black Man’s Cry -inspired by Fela -volume 1

The influence of Fela Anikulapo Ransome Kuti crosses many foreign shores as the man raised a few political issues as well in his home country Nigeria. The music of Fela inspired musicians as well as beatmasters, scratchers and was sampled galore. Afro-beat has become such a household name these days that many punters  will not be able to  trace back the genre back to the original Godfather of Afro-beat from Nigeria.

On foreign shores, outside of France (where his music saw nearly as many issues as if did in his native country) a chosen few Westerners -Cream’s drummer Ginger Baker and New York-based jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers amongst them- could claim to know the extent of Fela’s genius. As a result, while music historians have filled books with references to the influence of Westerners on Fela’s creation, little has been said about Fela’s inspiration on others.

 Today’s post shines a light on a wonderful compilation, issued on American based label Now Again in 2010, ‘Black Man’s Cry -The Inspiration of Fela Kuti-‘. It’s an impeccable collection of ultra-rare singles and a few tracks from even rarer albums, all lovingly compiled by Egon. The collection includes rare and previously unreleased music from Nigeria, Ghana, Colombia, Trinidad…Presented in a deluxe CD-box with an extensive booklet full with info and pics of the featured tracks.

Well recommended.

Go and get your own copy either on CD or as 4 10″ LP Box Set!

Buy it on iTunes here.

1. Cumbia Moderna De Soledad -Shacalao 3:42
2. Dan Satch and his Atomic 8 Dance Band -Woman Pin Down 2:52
3. 6th Infantry Brigade of the Nigerian Army -Black And Proud 3:33
4. Bola Johnson -Hot Pants 2:52
5. Segun Bucknor -Adebo 5:52
6. Bola Johnson -Never Trust A Woman 5:13
7. Jerry Hansen -Sisi Mi 5:31
8. Daktaris -Up Side Down 4:14
9. Phirpo Y Sus Caribes -Comencemos 2:11
10. Lever Brothers Gay Flamingoes -Egbi Mi O/Black Man’s Cry (Medley) 9:53
11. Mosco Tiles Fonclaire Steel Orchestra -Black Man’s Cry 4.28
12. Sylvania East Side Symphony -Egbi Mi O/Black Man’s Cry (Medley) 2:58
13. Lisandro Meza -Shacalao 3:43
14. Karl Hector and The Malcouns Toure -Samar 3:17
15. Whitefield Brothers -Lullaby For Lagos 2:39

‘Black Man’s Cry -the inspiration of Fela Kuti ‘ -Now Again NA 5056 -2010 USA. Hardbound book with CD and 4 10″ LP Box Set.

text contains excerpts from the original liner notes by Egon 

more Fela Kuti -“Monkey Banana” on Coconut Records, Nigeria 1975

thanks for all the comments and requests for more Fela Kuti. You have asked for it so here it is; a rare 12″ released by Coconut Records in 1975 in Nigeria. The 12″ features the track “Sense Wiseness” on the B-side.

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Monkey Banana

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Monkey Banana/Sense Wiseness

Coconut Records PMLP 1001 -Nigeria 1975

see also my previous post  Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976 and Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization on Kalakuta Records Nigeria

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere -November 28th 1983

 Image 1 FELA KUTI & AFRICA 70 MONKEY BANANA LP ! RARE AFROBEAT
FELA KUTI & AFRICA 70 MONKEY BANANA

Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976

he died in 1997 at the age of 59, leaving behind an imperishable work of musical genius, more modern than ever. He developed his own style which evolved over the years into a separate genre of music, Afro-beat.

Through his music, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, unanimously recognized as king of Afro-beat, was renown to pass messages through his music that were both spiritual and anti-government.

Overcoming the countless brutality he was subjected to during his life, Fela was unquestionably the voice the most famous and most effective of the African cause around the world. The many tours that he undertook in Europe and the United States have contributed crucially to know, recognize and appreciate the music and culture of Africa and Nigeria in particular.

In a sarcastic style that belongs only to him, Fela condemned Africans unable to fight for their rights as men in that typical mix of Yoruba and Pidgin English.

Yellow Fever

some Africans use all sorts of chemicals to lighten their skin, so it is the closest possible to the skin color of  a white person and  this practice is called ‘yellow fever’.

Fela condemns this practice in the song ‘ Yellow Fever’  first and foremost to demonstrate a denial of the pride of being Black and second because it is like a disease such as jaundice or malaria.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti & The Africa 70 -Yellow Fever

lyrics ‘Yellow Fever’

Different different fever na him dey

Malaria fever nko?

Hay fever nko?

Inflation fever nko?

Jundis fever nko?

Freedom fever nko?

Yellow fever nko?

na him dey bring the matter now he dey

I say tell dem make dem hear you say

all fever na sickness -original sickness

malaria na sickness -original sickness

hay fever na sickness -original sickness

inflation na sickness -original sickness

influenza na sickness -original sickness

jundis na sickness -original sickness

freedom na sickness -original sickness

yellow fever nko? say original and artificial he dey

 

Original catch you, your eyes go yellow, your face go go yellow, your body go weak.

But later if you no die inside, the yellow fever go fade away

Artificial catch you, you be man or woman na you go catch am yourself.

Na your money go do am for you.

You go yellow pass yellow. You go get moustache for face.

You go get your double colour. Your yansh go black like coal.

You self go think say you dey fine. Who say you fine?

Na lie you no fine at all at all na lie

my sister who say you fine?

yellow fever you dey bleach you dey bleach

Sisi wey dey go you dey bleach you dey bleach

stupid thing, yeye thing, ugly thing, fucking thing

now let’s get down to the on the ground spiritual game

everybody etc…

 from the album Yellow Fever -Fela Anikulapo Kuti & The Afrika 70 -Decca Afrodisia 1976 (DWAPS 2004)

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere taken in Amsterdam November 28th 1983

Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz

‘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  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 Hedzoleh Soundz, an extremely talented band from Ghana, 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.

Languta

Hugh Masekela will be performing during the Festival Rio Loco, on June 19th 2010 in Toulouse, France

Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz

players:

  • Hugh Masekela – Trumpet & Vocals
  • Stanley Kwesi Todd – Electric Bass & Vocals
  • James Kwaku Morton – Congas & Vocals
  • Nat “Leepuma” Hammond – Congas, Flute & Vocals
  • Richard Neesai “Jagger” Botchway – Guitar
  • Isaac Asante – Talking Drum, Percussion & Vocals
  • Samuel Nortey – Percussion & Vocals
  • Acheampong Welbeck – Drums

tracks;

  1. Languta
  2. Kaa Ye Oya
  3. Adade
  4. Yei Baa Gbe Wolo
  5. Patience
  6. When
  7. Nye Tamo Ame
  8. Rekpete

Blue Thumb Chisa BTS 62 USA

Buy the original album here

Aleke Kanonu -Nwanne, Nwanne, Nwanne

Nigerian musician Aleke Kanonu is quite unknown yet he has worked with numerous jazz artists in the USA.

He sang and played kalimba and congas with Stanley Cowell on the album entitled ‘Regeneration’ on Strata-East in 1976.

In 1980 came  ‘Aleke’,  a great afro-beat LP with jazz musicians like Wynton Marsalis.

A year later, an obscure 12″  was recorded in New York with Mr Tolbert , entitled “Happiness / Nwanne, Nwanne, Nwanne”.

Wicked sound! Dig Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango et al but then you are going to love this

Aleke Kanonu meets Tolbert The Miracle Man -Nwanne, Nwanne, Nwanne

I lost track of this record until last night while browsing thru my Disco section where it was stored. Last night changed it all!! I remember buying this , way back in NYC at the time when it was released. There was a short-lived buzz with a few key jocks and interest from the shops but due to short supply it disappeared into obscurity. Rare and highly desirable.