Penny Whistle Kwela -Alexandra Shamber Boys, Benoni Flute Quintet

pennywhistle kwela cover

Long, long ago, African herd-boys used to play bamboo whistles which are known in the African language as ‘mahlaka’. As time went on these were replaced by tin whistles as the bamboo was not strong enough and did not last. These tin pipes have been greatly improved and are what we now call ‘penny whistles’. The penny whistle became the popular instrument of little African boys and they could be heard playing on street corners and in the townships, where they attracted much interest and attention.

in the mid 1940s Pennywhistle jive was developed. Kwela, a Zulu term means “pick-up” and refers to roving police vans on the look-out for illegal street corner gambling. When the police came in sight all evidence of the game would be hastily hidden and somebody would substitute the event with harmless flute music until the immediate danger was over.

Recording scouts, realizing the talent of these penny whistle players brought them to recording studios and the penny whistle records have proved tremendously popular with Spokes Mashiyane being the biggest star.

pennywhistle kwela label 1

Elias and his Zig Zag Flutes -Sanny Boy Special

music and rhythms of Africa labelAlexandra Shamber Boys -Phazamiza Zacks (tribute to Zacks Nkosi)

The EP “Music and Rhythms of Africa vol. 1”   features four recordings by Benoni Flute Quintet and the Alexandra Shamber Boys. One of the most popular flute groups is the Alexandra Shamber Boys who have made a big name for themselves in Johannesburg. “Phazamiza Zacks’ one of the tunes they play on this record is a tribute to the great Zacks Nkosi. The Benoni Flute Quintet had a big hit with their recording of ‘Skanda Mayeza’. The tune was originally recorded as a vocal and these youngsters picked up the tune on their penny whistles; their playing of it established the tune as one of the all time favourite with the Africans.

Alexandra Shamber Boys

Alexandra Shamber Boys

Alexandra Shamber Boys -Kgokgoma

The Alexandra Shamber Boys -finish labelAlexander Shamber Boys -finish(Tom Hark)

‘Finish’ by The Alexander Shamber Boys is a later version re-recorded version while the original song ‘Tom Hark’  was popular in the mid-fifties.

here is the  original 78 rpm by

Elias and his Zig Zag Jive Flutes -Tom Hark

elijah -tom hark 78

thanks to flatinternational

YEBO! Zulu Vocal & Jive, Marabi Jive pt 3

…thank you all for the support and for listening to the music on these pages.

This week  starts with another slice of Zulu Jive and Marabi Jive  as featured in the YEBO! series…part 3

there’s little information on the artists so I hope that the labels and mp3’s  of these rare 45’s bring some joy….

Olive Masinga -indlela enhle

Izintombi Zesi Manje Maje -lobola mgca

Indoba Band -keep on jiving (part 1)


Retsi & The Jacaranda Girls -manikiniki

Makgona Tsohle Band -Marabi blues



YEBO! Sotho Vocal, Zulu Jive pt 2

izazi

Izazi -Ingabonga Isudu

Lazarus Kgagudi, “The Silver Fox”, was not born blind. His fate was the result of a bicycle accident at an early age. He was born in Mohlaletse. Lazarus received his education at Siloe School for the Blind. That is where he first met Steve Kekana. Some of the individuals who played part in the shaping of his music career were producers Roxy ‘Black Cat’ Buthelezi, Banzi Kubheka, Phiri Morale and his executive producer, Emil Zoghby. His backing bands were mainly Black Cat Trio, The Neighbours and Step Ahead.
Disease cut short the life of this down-to-earth royal star. On 31 March 2007, Lazarus was posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a festival dubbed Golden Oldies Music Festival in Polokwane.

lazarus kgagudi and the neighbours label

Lazarus Kgagudi and the Neighbours -amadoda asemgodini

Lazarus Kgagudi, “The Silver Fox”, was not born blind. His fate was the result of a bicycle accident at an early age. He was born in Mohlaletse. Lazarus received his education at Siloe School for the Blind. That is where he first met Steve Kekana. Some of the individuals who played part in the shaping of his music career were producers Roxy ‘Black Cat’ Buthelezi, Banzi Kubheka, Phiri Morale and his executive producer, Emil Zoghby. His backing bands were mainly Black Cat Trio, The Neighbours and Step Ahead.

Disease cut short the life of this down-to-earth royal star. On 31 March 2007, Lazarus was posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a festival dubbed Golden Oldies Music Festival in Polokwane.

excerpt from “Beyond Memory” by  Max Mojapelo (published by African Minds)

steve kekana -uthando ulungana  sikhwele

Steve Kekana -Uthando Ulungana Sikhwele

sophie thapedi  label

Sophie Thapedi -Mabitso Abatho

vusi nkosi with mabone boys label


Vusi Nkosi with Mabone Boys -Superman Jive



yebo cover ontwerp 3

YEBO! Zulu Vocal & Jive pt 1

yebo LOGO  ontwerp 2 gecomprimeerd

I discovered this collection through a local South African dealer who had no interest in the music. He was actually cleaning out his garage and ready to throw out a few boxes of singles he had purchased from a local township radio station…vinyl from the 50’s to the 90’s. During the South African Apartheid days a strict censorship was applied upon all media. Black music stayed within the confines of townships, church and local radio.

Radio stations also had to endure censorship by apartheid laws, everyday records became subject and songs on vinyl that were not meeting the standards were simply scratched with a nail by the authorities…imagine, a 45 with one approved side and one side so badly scratched that it was impossible to listen to the music or words…. Not only black music suffered from this practice but also the regular white music that was released or imported into South Africa.

I have saved and restored most of the singles in this collection.  The original songs in their full length will be featured the coming months on these pages…

dark city sisters label clean
Dark City Sisters -Kudelangibuya Khona

for the Dark City Sisters, four is a significant number. The group consists of four women who have been around the music scene for four decades.

The group (Francisca Mngomezulu, Ester Khoza, Hilda Mogapi and Joyce Mogatusi) has proved that in the music industry sometimes perseverance breeds success. This female mbaqanga group was formed in 1958, and has been through so many obstacles that one wonders what kept them going through all these years.

The group enjoyed success during the mid-60s, travelling as far afield as Zambia and Mozambique. In 1964 Caroline Carpenter replaced Hilda Mogapi. But Carpenter stayed for only a year, rejoining the Sisters 19 years later, after a successful career with the Mahotela Queens. A couple of years later another Mahotela Queen member, Emily Zwane joined the Sisters.

By 1984 two original group members had passed away. Mogatusi, the only original surviving member, kept recruiting in spite of all these disheartening hindrances. Talk about women power.

excerpts from an original article by  the Johannesburg News Agency

*

little is known about the artists on these following 45’s that it is hard to write up any stories on the artists or their whereabouts…although I will try to locate and share any information that is available….so for the moment let’s enjoy the music…

retsi & the jacaranda girls


Retsi & The Jacaranda Girls -Mongezi

korrie moraba -Ngixulaelawena

Korrie Moraba -Ngixulaelawena

Retsi Pule -s’dula

patience africa label

Patience Africa -Sala sithandwa


about Township Jazz & Jive

to American ears, South African pop sounds utterly blithe. It lilts along with harmonies that are always consonant, and it revolves around the three major chords -and, usually, the 4/4 beat and four-bar phrases – that are also basic to rock-and-roll. British, East Indian, European, North African and American music have all had a continuing impact on South African pop

Zulu choruses, for instance, made connections with hymn-singing (via British missionaries), jubilee songs (from black American minstrels) and more modern gospel and soul music, while retaining vocal interjections and a rhythmic sophistication that are unmistakably African. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the a cappella Zulu-Swazi chorus that recorded with Paul Simon and that has three albums available in the United States, won’t sound alien to anyone who’s heard the Five Blind Boys, the Four Tops or the Persuasions.

Within South Africa, the music carries mixed meanings. Under Apartheid, the Government worked to segregate blacks into tribal groups, as if decades of urbanization and shared culture had not occurred; separate, state-controlled radio stations, for instance, broadcast in Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho. Explicitly and implicitly, performers are steered away from political songs. So when a group sings in Zulu about the perils of urban life, it can be seen as endorsing a return to some rural homeland, away from the wealth and power of the cities.

Yet the sound and form of the music itself represent a triumph of African styles – call-and-response singing, overlapping instrumental lines, traditionalist melodies, the accents and rhythms of indigenous speech – as they continue to transform foreign influences. Outside South Africa, local symbolism recedes and the dignity, originality and sheer moxie of the music come through.

Mbaqanga (literally, in Zulu, ”maize bread”) is dance music that reaches blacks who work in cities but still have ties to rural life -migrant laborers and others who don’t identify with the ”sophistication” of American-style pop and jazz.

It’s citified rural music. Call-and-response vocals mix traditional melodies with the imperatives of pop catchiness; tinny electric guitars, and sometimes fiddles or accordions or pennywhistles, recall the the sound of African instruments above saxophones, keyboards, electric bass and American trap drums. While the bands vamp, the vocal melodies expand and contract; familiar as the music sounds to rock-trained ears, singing along isn’t easy.

excerpts from an orginal article
SOUTH AFRICAN POP BREAKS OUT
By JON PARELES/New York Times
Published: Sunday, February 8, 1987


Out of this world -Archie Silansky and his High Flyers with Vocalists; Bobby Angel, Vasco Cordoni, Maureen Rayson

“Out of this world” was the theme of the successful charity festival held in Johannesburg, where each night at the glittering ‘Bien Donne’ Restaurant at Milner Park honoured a different planet.

out of this world cover

Archie Silansky was a South African piano player in the “lounge/ light jazz” genre. He worked mainly in the late 1950s, early 1960s around Johannesburg and recorded several albums.

Having gone right around the globe with his popular Club International records, Archie Silansky now blasts off into outer space to continue his musical travels “Out of this world”.

Twisting into orbit with the High Flyers and vocally assisted by Bobby Angel, Vasco Cordoni and  Maureen Rayson, Archie presents rocket age arrangements of tunes dedicated to the various planets that have become his new ports of call, and to the gods who created them.

out of this world detail

Archie Silansky and his High Flyers

His travel schedule is as follows;

‘Twistin’ is out of this world’, a brand new tune, complete with countdown and actual blast-off sounds

Archie Silansky -Earth

MOON; ‘Shine on Harvest Moon’, ‘Lunar Baby’, sung by Bobby Angel

Archie Silansky -Moon

JUPITER; The King of the Gods: ‘Al di La’ which appropriately enough means ‘Out of this world’, sung by Vasco Cordoni

Archie Silanskyi -Jupiter

NEPTUNE; The God of the Sea: ‘Beyond the Sea’ sung by Bobby Angel

Archie Silansky -Neptune

VENUS; as Venus is the Goddess of Love, and love is the most popular theme of all time, we pay a return visit to hear Vasco Cordoni, an Itailian who looks very much like a Greek God himself, sings in Spanish, the song ‘Venus’

Archie Silansky -Return to Venus

HERMES; the Greek God of speed: ‘Speedy Gonzales’ –not really a Greek God but still very speedy, sung by Maureen Rayson

Archie Silansky -Hermes

MERCURY; the Roman God of speed: ‘Quicksilver’, sung by Maureen Rayson and ‘Alabama Bound’ with a real Southern Sound.

Archie Silansky -Mercury

RETURN TO EARTH: Maureen Rayson sings ‘Won’t you please come home, Bill Bailey’, and she is answered by Bobby Angel who sings ‘You’d be so nice to come home to’

Archie Silansky -Return to Earth

original liner notes from “Out of this world” by Archie Silansky and his High Flyers with Vocalists; Bobby Angel, Vasco Cordoni, Maureen Rayson -Gallotone 1244 probably released in South Africa in the mid-60’s

Mediterranean Cocktail at Franco Restaurant with Vasco Cordoni

Now here’s a disc that features singer Vasco Cordoni at the cocktail bar of the famous ‘Franco Restaurant’ in Johannesburg,  specializing in Mediterranean food and spirits

singer Vasco Cordoni must be of Italian origin and born in South Africa. He worked mainly in the restaurant/lounge–circuit in Johannesburg in the 60’s,  singing a well groomed repertoire of Mediterranean origins while specializing in Italian songs.

Vasco Cordoni -La Notte

Vasco Cordoni -Tasseparo na fioume

The album ‘Mediterranean Cocktail’ was released in 1966 while Vasco worked at the ‘Franco Restaurant & Cocktail Bar’. He can be seen on the cover posing happily at the bar, probably with the band that accompanied him, or maybe the guys may have been working at the bar, shaking cocktails.  No credits nor any liner notes to verify that…But the repertoire on this album is pretty and comfortable to listen to, the usual cocktail bar/lounge fare but only more ‘poppy’ at times and with a few unexpected turns in mood and style, like ‘Sha-La-la’ and ‘O Barquinho’, that beautiful Brazilian Bossa Nova….

Vasco Cordoni -Sha-la-la

Vasco Cordoni -O barquinho

Vasco Cordoni -Se to vieni con mico

Vasco Cordoni -Volare

 

Have a go, order a Limoncello Martini and sip away those blues

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce limoncello
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 lemon twist
  •  
  • Directions

Shake with ice and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.