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’
This is part two of an exclusive Q&A I had with Viviana. Thanks so much for the memories.
Last Night At The Mikado –Q&A with singer Viviana…Part Two
Q-did any black artists performed in Jo’burg nightlife around 1965? Was jazz music popular in the circuit you worked in?
A- a few black artists performed, but not many. I didn’t know most of their names and frankly personally I only saw a few, one of them was Hugh Masekela. As musicians we didn’t differentiate with races, and accepted talent and technique only. It was different with the laws of the country, but to all of us it never made any difference. I know they were required to enter the premises from the back door, but the clients liked them very much. As for jazz venues, I don’t recall any specific one, but I do remember a combo with Hennie Bekker (piano), Johnny Fourie (guitar), Johnny Boshoff (bass), Tony Moore (drums) they played excellent fusion and being good musicians they eventually played and produced at SABC. I worked with all of them on one nighters, shows and functions later on after they disbanded
Q-were there any specific discotheques/places for dancing or only restaurants with dancing facilities. How safe was it to go out at night?
A- I don’t remember many discotheques except Bella Napoli in Hillbrow. Every restaurant had a band and everywhere you could dance till very late. Nobody had any problems walking around at any time at night. It was extremely safe. In fact until 1983/84 Johannesburg was still safe enough, as I remember walking in Hillbrow to go to Fontana’s to get a roast chicken at 3am, in my jammies. At that time the guys from club 58 (gay club) used to come to my flat and wake me up when they finished working, so we would make coffee and go and get food.
Q-what neighbourhoods of Jo’burg were frequented for the nightlife? Around Market Street, around the theatres?
A-Mainly the scene was in Hillbrow , Market Street, Joubert Park and Downtown. Now all these places are impossible to go to, very dangerous, and have deteriorated dreadfully.
Q-I understand that lots of the music that was featured in the restaurants/nightlife was called ‘Continental’. French, Italian, etc. Why do you think that was? Was there a certain taste for European music? Was any typical South African music performed?
A- Continental music was extremely popular and I guess I was lucky to arrive at that time as I did not have to make many changes to my repertoire. I don’t know why, or who started the trend. I guess also the Latin-american trend in movies was to blame. Typical South african music, and by that I mean afrikaans was not considered trendy enough for clubs. But there were a lot records in Afrikaans. The one modern band that was upcoming was Rabbit, they were young and rock, but they were sort of “squashed” by the media, Trevor Rabin was in that group. Eventually they left the country and I see that Trevor writes a lot of huge movie soundtracks in the USA.
Q-you mentioned Bez Martin, a saxophone player. I do own a record by him “Shuffle With Bez, Cha Cha with Martin” on which he plays cha cha and shuffle styles of music. Were these styles played a the nightclubs/restaurants mainly or were there more styles of dancing that were popular at the time?
A-Bez was a friend for many years and I did many functions with him at the Superbowl in Sun City many years later as well. Continental music was played everywhere, but also we played a lot of swing and American classics. Whatever came from the States and we heard on the Radio, we rehearsed in the afternoon and played the same night.
A-were your bookings for a longer period or for just one night?
Q- I was always booked with a minimum 3 months contract or longer. Although we did one nighters on our night off (Sunday). Weddings etc. We worked very hard, I still can’t believe I had all that energy and still had time to party some nights after work.
A-were you touring the country and working the circuit?
Q- After Johannesburg I went on the circuit, and that means you can never take a holiday, as the bands change every 3 or 6 months (I did stay in some Hotels for a year and longer) we had an agent Maurice Fresco (after Keleti) and he kept on booking us from place to place for many years. Only top 5 stars Hotels.
Q-what about Lourenco Marques in Mozambique. What sort of nightlife entertainment was on offer? Were the records released by the bands/singers manufactured as a souvenir or commercially released by the record companies?
A- I know Rene’ worked at the Polana Hotel, that was very famous and came to South Africa after working in Mozambique and Angola, that was also a swinging place. I am not aware of records released commercially, but I really don’t know.
Q-have you ever performed in Afrikaans speaking places of interest. Like Loch Vaal Hotel?
A- I have never performed in Afrikaans speaking places. I only did a concert once on a sunday with an Afrikaans band, it was in a huge tent and in a little dorp (village, place) outside Johannesburg. Frankly I should have kept on doing those concerts as everyone that sang there became extremely famous in the country. Lol.
Q-does any of these places ring a bell?? The Beachcomber in Durban. The Caravelle in Johannesburg. The Balalaika Hotel – a popular country type of hotel/restaurant-. Franco Italian restaurant in Johannesburg. Tiffany’s Restaurant in Commissioner Street, Jo’burg.
A- Yes all of them, very famous. I ate at Franco’s often and got special treats (being Italian and speaking the lingo) I did sing at the Balalaika on occasions, and then much later we did a contract there for 6 months, but not in the 60s, in the 70s.
Q-have you ever heard of a singer called Eduardo Jaime? He was Portuguese and very famous in South Africa if I’m well informed.
A-Yes I met Eduardo, he was working with Rene’ at the Mikado before me, I believe I got the job because Dan called Rene’ when him and Eduardo were having a lot of differences and Eduardo just got fired. Rene’ and Eduardo were both very fiery. They were partners in crime though when it came to parties and girls. Yes he was Portuguese. I have no idea how long he worked at the Mikado.
my search for the history of the sophisticated nightlife in South Africa and in the 50’s and 60’s continues with this post about the Carlton hotel, Johannesburg SA.
The social and cultural history of a city is reflected in its nocturnal entertainment. More than that, nightlife represents the beating heart of a society in progress.
Today, many of the places and buildings mentioned here on these pages are lost or were demolished for new buildings. So only distant memories remain and then this collection of obscure records. Music by local bands that played the lounges and restaurants of grand hotels in South Africa, Mozambique and its neighboring countries Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
The Carlton hotel, part of the Carlton Centre in downtown Johannesburg -now a 50 stories high skyscraper – was once the hub of entertainment in Johannesburg , a place where the rich and famous stayed and the locals came to dine and dance.
The history of the Carlton, which opened its doors in 1906, is the history of Johannesburg.
Towards the end of the last century the lure of gold drew thousands of people to the Witwatersrand; people who were content to live in tents and shacks whilst they sought the precious metal. Soon the great mining houses began to rise and the mining camp began to shape into a town and the inhabitants craved for comfort.
Among the many brilliant and enterprising men who came to win wealth from the Reef were three men from the Kimberley Diamond Fields. They were Barney Barnato and his two nephews, Solly and Woolf Joel. Barney, already a diamond millionaire conceived the idea of building a luxury hotel in Johannesburg. The Hotel was to be called the Carlton and the site on which it was to rise was in the center of the minining town where it stands still today. At the time of Barney’s decision there was a boom, but before the plans for the hotel were completed there came the Great Crash. Owing to Barney’s untimely death the building of the Carlton was temporarily delayed.
Following the end of the war at the turn of the century, a revived spirit of optimism led people’s thoughts once more to the Carlton, which the Barnadot-Joel Mining Company was determined to build. Excavation of the site was begun and the public became aware of the luxurious and ambitious plans for the hotel. This was not going to be a Victorian affair with red velvet, lace, antimaccasars and oil lamps. It was to have air conditioning, elevators and electric lights from the hotel’s own power plant -all these luxuries being advanced features in those days. Elegant furnishings and furniture from one of
London’s most famous establishments, and napery, crockery and cutlery were ordered from world-renowned houses.
At this period there was virtually no manufacturing industry in South Africa. Every item for the hotel had to be imported. To co-ordinate and expedite the delivery in South Africa of the valuable and varied articles, the hotel company chartered a recently launched Union Castle Liner, the Cluney Castle. With the furnishings came the chefs, the waiters and service staff.
On February 20 1906, the Carlton, South Africa’s first luxury hotel was opened. The people were ready for it. Beautifully gowned women and well-tailored men filled the restaurants and lounges. From the moment of its opening, the Carlton became the rendezvous of people of good taste and discrimination. It became not only the social center of Johannesburg, but the meeting place of financiers, diplomats and business executives visiting Johannesburg. Built, as it was, in the heart of the town which was just shedding the mining camp atmosphere, where roads were still dusty tracks in winter and muddy paths in summer, the Carlton, with its new look, glittered like a palace. Within it was the magic of luxurious comfort, superb cuisine and unrivaled service such as Johannesburg and South Africa had never experienced before.
The most memorable day in the history of the Carlton came in 1947 with the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. The Carlton served as headquarters for the Royal Family during their sojourn as guests of the city.
The Carlton closed down at the end of 1963 only to re-open in 1972 as a 600-room hotel, but sadly closed in 1997 due to the high crime rate in the downtown area of Johannesburg. Today it stands empty, the outside entrance barricaded off to try and stop squatters from occupying the building.
An outstanding feature of the Carlton has been the exotic ‘Mediterranean Room’. This mecca of pleasure seeking diners and dancers has for several years been the highlight of Johannesburg night life. Since its inception the ‘Mediterranean Room’ has featured top Continental bands who have, to a large extent, set the fashions for Johannesburg’s musical taste. The present group ‘Renatino di Napoli’ are a fitting climax to sad departure from the Johannesburg scene of a superb night spot.
Today’s record is the LP “Last Night At The Carlton” with Renatino de Napoli from The Mediterranean Room, released in 1963.
Renatino di Napoli was born in Naples in 1938. Whilst still a boy his artistic feeling and musical qualities were very apparant. His group’s first dates were in the beautiful Neapolitan towns and environs of Capri, Ischia and Sorrento. The group then progressed rapidly to Rome, Turin, Milan and San Remo, always playing and interpreting the best that the Neapolitan songs have to offer the world.
“Last Night At The Carlton” with Renatino de Napoli
In the 1950s Margaret Singana moved to Johannesburg, and soon started performing with The Symbols. In 1972 she made “Good Feelings” with the band. She became the first black artist to feature on the Radio 5 hit parade. Singana’s song “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You” became a hit. In 1973, Singana was cast as the lead singer in the musical, Ipi Tombi, and soon made herself famous with the song “Mama Tembu’s Wedding”. She suffered from bad health for many years but, in 1986, she returned to sing “We Are Growing”, the theme song from the television series, Shaka Zulu.
Singana received many awards, including the 1976/1977 critics award from the British magazine, Music Week. She was known as “Lady Africa” in Southern Africa and passed away in 2000. The single featured here today was released in 1975 and produced by Patrick Van Blerk, Allan Goldberg and Trevor Rabin.
this album came out in 1990 in South Africa when the bubblegum-style was popular. Bubblegum is a form of pure South African pop music that arose in the middle of the 1980’s, distinctively based on vocals with overlapping call-and-response vocals. Electronic keyboards and synthesizers were commonplace. Dan Tshanda of the band Splash was the first major bubblegum star, followed by Chicco Twala.
Dan Tshanda and Splash are synonymous with the name Patricia Majalisa. It’s that very combination that brought her to the limelight in 1988. Patricia was the electrifying backing voice who started the group Splash in Chiawelo, Soweto with Dan Tshanda and the other members of the group.
In the very beginning Patricia Majalisa sang in a group called ‘The Flying Sounds’ when ace producer,the late Hamilton Nzimande from Gallo Records listened to their demo tape and liked the demo. That culminated in their debut album ‘Mr Tony’ which although not a hit, made them realise their potential and the late Mr Nzimande did not give up on them. This made everyone see that the group had the potential to make it and that’s when Ray Phiri of Stimela give them the name ‘SPLASH’.
Her fifth album ‘DZHENGEZHE’ saw her graduate to double platinum status in South Africa.
The Colony was located in the luxurious Hyde Park Hotel, downtown Johannesburg. The nightclub was a famous hangout for the city’s well-heeled crowd who came to dine and dance. 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.
On this album ‘An Evening at the Colony’ from 1963, a live recording, Sam Sklair is being presented as a versatile musician, as he plays the clarinet, piano, saxophone, bass, flute and vibraphone. Furthermore, Sam is a proficient vocalist and almost as versatile in languages; he sings in Spanish, French, Italian, Greek and English.
“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.
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.
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
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’
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
Eve Boswell (Eva Keleti, May 11, 1922, Budapest, Hungary – August 14, 1998, Durban, South Africa) was a successful pop singer in Britain in the 1950s
She was born in Hungary to professional musician parents who toured worldwide. Educated in Switzerland, she studied piano before joining her parents on tour as The Three Hugos. When World War II was declared, the family left England with the Boswell Circus. She married, and as Eve Boswell became a popular singing star in South Africa.
In 1949, she was heard by bandleader Geraldo (Gerald Bright), who persuaded her to return to the United Kingdom as a singer in his band, which was widely heard on BBC Radio. Boswell parted with Geraldo in 1952, and launched a solo career. Her first hit record came that year with “Sugar Bush”, partly sung in Afrikaans. She appeared in the Royal Variety Performance and toured widely with comedian Derek Roy, before getting her own radio-show in 1954
see Eve Boswell singing a medley of her most well-known hits at The Wheeltappers & Shunters Social Club: “Pickin’ A Chicken”, “Sugar Bush” and “A-round The Corner”
Her major chart hit came with “Pickin’ a Chicken”, a South African tune with new words, which rose to No 9 on the UK Singles Chart at the start of 1956. The song, originally sung by Barbara Thomas didn’t do much when it was first released but when Eve adapted it to the taste of her white audience it became a smash…
Eve Boswell’s first LP, “Sugar and Spice”, on which she sang 10 songs in nine different languages, followed later in the year. A continuous programme of radio work and tours followed, leading to more than one mental breakdown.
She faded from public view as public tastes for pop music changed through the late 1950s and 1960s, eventually returning to live in South Africa. Eve Boswell died in Durban, South Africa on August 14, 1998
‘Eve at Ciro’s’ is a most unusual find and equally a rare EP that highlights the standard Eve Boswell sets at that most famous nightclub of Johannesburg; Ciro’s. During her lenghty career Eve performed many times at Ciro’s and this EP, although not recorded live on the spot, is certainly worth a few curtaincalls…
Eve sings in English and Afrikaans and does a really exciting version of ‘Wimoweh/The Lion Sleeps tonight”, but this time arranged and recorded as a chacha….
Maputo, formerly Lourenço Marques, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique
Cabaret at The Moçambique
with Elsa Vilar, Moniz Trindade, Maria Adalgis, David Pantoja with Benny Baker’s Orchestra
One fine October morning in 1955 Antonio Amral arrived in Johannesburg from Lourenço Marques, unable to understand one single word he heard around him. Despite language difficulties he bought a restaurant that very day, and soon discerning Johannesburg diners were finding their way to an unostentatious little place in Simmonds Street that served the finest piri-piri dishes in town.
Towards the end of 1958 he moved to this present premises in Noord Street, and it is to celebrate the first anniversary of this new restaurant, “The Moçambique” that he presents this gala cabaret of artists imported from Portugal, specially for the occasion.
Moniz Trindade is one of the world’s foremost interpreters of ‘fado’ songs. Born in Lisbon, the home of the ‘fado’, he is in equal demand in Spain and Portugal for appearances on stage, televison and radio. A well-known composer, he writes all of his own material.
David Pantoja is the instrumentalist of the group. It is his brilliant accordion accompaniments that give the songs their authentic Porguese flavour.
The musical director at “The Moçambique” is Benny Baker, British born pianist and band leader. Although better known in South Africa for his recordings of the ‘pop’ type, Benny is a brilliant exponent of Latin American and Continental dance music. He had his own combination in some of the smartest nightclubs in Europe, and just before coming to South Africa was for two seasons leading the Orchestra of the famous Palm Beach Casinos in Cannes, France.
from the original liner notes of the album “Cabaret at The Moçambique” Gallotone GALP 1067
The Caravelle is one of the leading restaurants/night spots in Johannesburg, and its discreet intimate atmosphere provides an admirable setting for the polished entertainment of singer Derek Gunning and pianist George Hayden.
Presided over by charming hostess Olive Lawrence and genial host Freddie Pezold, The Caravelle has become synonymous of good cuisine and is famous for its special dish ‘Rock Lobster Ala Turque’, a tempting concoction that draws gourmets from far and wide.
Derek Gunning; 30 years old Derek Gunning has been a leading vocalist in the main night spots of Johannesburg, Durban and Margate. In 1955 he migrated to England where he joined the famous Eric Winstone Orchestra at Butlins Holiday Camp and at the well known Millroy Club in London, and later toured the South of France sharing top of the bill honours with The Trio Los Paraguaro.
He also appeared in several leading TV shows in London, amongst them ‘The 6.5 Special’, ‘Follow the Stars’ (a radio show) and ‘The Late London Show’. On his return to Johannesburg, Derek featured as resident vocalist on a popular Radio Show and was featured with such prominent guest artists as Alma Cogan, Anne Shelton, Eve Boswell, Roy Castle and many others. Derek is now resident vocalist at The Caravelle (Johannesburg) where, with pianist George Hayden, he blends admirably into the intimate atmosphere of this leading restaurant/night spot.
The Don Albert Combo -Dinner (not breakfast) at Tiffany’s
Restaurant Tiffany’s is represented on the album ‘Johannesburg Night Club Festival’ by a few musical selections, although not credited, by The Don Albert Combo. Here is a rare album by that group recorded on their turf. One can hear the usual standards done Don Albert’s style with some unexpected choices like ‘ Soul Bossa Nova’, ‘The House of Bamboo’ and a twistin’ version of ‘All my lovin’
In Commissioner Street, known as the ‘Gay, White Way’ of Johannesburg, Tiffany’s -a hop, skip and a jump away from the heart of Theatreland- stands out like a diadem in a crown of jewels. Lush in its comfort, exciting in its atmosphere, under the genial direction of Rene Wildi, that man of international cuisine fame, the most delectable of foods are served and the wine list has available at your command the most selective vintages.
Fully air-conditioned so that diners are comfortably at ease regardless of summer heat or wintry blasts outside, Tiffany’s has the ideal climate at all times. Because of its convivial air, pleasing lightning, carpeted flooring and personal attention service, it has become the favourite nightspot for celebrities and others who have fastidious taste in wining and dining. Music provided by Don Albert and his Combo is a soothing background while you dine, and as the evening draws on becomes exhilarating for those who want to dance or an adventurous, musical experience for those who prefer to listen.
South African-born Don Albert is a musician filled with the spirit of adventure. An accomplished master of the reed instruments, it was not enough to follow the arrangements and style of other leaders in the field of modern, popular music. For Don Albert wanted to create a new sound, a new style and at the same time include much of the traditional of old and new Jazz. By trial and error, after spending hundreds of hours in searching for the right combination, he at last succeeded. Veteran, knowledgeable musicians and critics have described his Combo as the ‘mightiest little band’ ever to come to town. Not only is Don Albert adept at all the reed instruments, but much of the vocals on this LP are provided by him. It was only fitting that Don Albert and his new creative style, his outstanding accomplishments in modern musical performance should be part of Tiffany’s -South Africa’s unusually outstanding restaurant for dining, wining and dancing.
from the original liner notes from the LP
The Don Albert Combo -dinner (not breakfast) at Tiffany’s