It’s official folks! Our first compilation in collaboration with ILAM is now being prepared for release. Soul Safari presents Township Jive & Kwela Jazz (1940-1960) celebrates the 3rd year of Soul Safari so far. Imagine 135 posts and still counting…
All titles on this compilation have been handpicked from the ILAM Archives (the International Library of African Music), in Grahamstown, South Africa. The tracklisting represents a wide variety of styles from the golden era of Jive & Kwela, originally released on 78 shellac discs from small independent record companies . The compilation features rarities by the big names obviously but presents mostly obscure material from a long lost past. Recorded from the original 78 rpm’s and professionally restored/mastered with artwork to match.
A limited edition of the album in CD format and deluxe 180 gram vinyl pressing is confirmed for October 2011, exclusively distributed by Rush Hour.
last Christmas my review and mix of the past year represented the fertile music of South Africa, this year Soul Safari criss-crosses the whole continent in search of music treasures.
From Sub-Saharan Africa up to Algeria, with the accent on the stringed instrument; guitar, cora, the oud, sekhankula and the Nguni string bow. And poetic stories, in words and mood.
Traditional griot music meets the seductive charm from Algeria, cora from Senegal by Bakary Sissoko and Daouda Diabaté blends seamlessly with pure guitar poetry from Francis Bebey…a Nguni Christmas song by Princess Constance Magogo, jazz & happy Jive from South Africa, Congolese soukous and rhumba by Orchestre Loga, Nigerian juju dub from Dele Abiodun.
A surprising discovery this year was this album from 1984, ‘Très Fâché, Très Fâché‘ by guitar player and singer Rémi Sah’lomon et Le Matanga from Brazzaville, Congo. Rémi was bassist, singer of varieties, arranger of the National Youth Orchestra of Congo, and at the same time the second bassist in L’ Orchestra Bantou. He made his debut in L’Orchestra Siza Kotoko Ya Gaby. Great soukous tracks on this album!
A selection of recent finds from the past year mixed with a few timeless classics from the Soul Safari archives. Now, what more can one wish for the Yuletide season?
01. Francis Bebey -Jesu, que ma joie demeure
02. P. Ben Mouhamed & M. Idir -A Vava Inou Va
03. Bakary Sissoko & Daouda Diabaté -Diaka
04. Princess Constance Magogo KaDinuzulu -Bambulal’ uJesu yamaJuda (The Crucified Jesus of the Jews)
05. Raisse Omar Ouhrouche -M’sak Salkhir Awali Ghetella Nite
06. Remi Sah’lomon et le Matanga -Africa Matanga
07. Akendenuge -Aiyan
08. Vicky & L’Orchestre OK Jazz -Mwana Ponaka
09. Opic 17 -Orchestre Lago -Okoyoka Eloko Pona Zuwa
10. Mthunzini Girls -Uyangibiza
11. Elias Mathebula & The Chivani Sisters -Ntela A Tingangeni
In one of my previous posts I introduced singer Mqonga Sikanise, an obscure artist of Xhosa origins who plays the concertina.
The instrument was originally imported from European shores to South Africa, a variation of the accordion, sometimes called the “Donkylung” or the “Xmas-worm” in local slang.
The instrument was played originally in South African “boere” music which directly translated means farmer music. “Boer” also refers to Afrikaans speaking Europeans, thus a “Boer” can also be called as such without necessarily being a farmer.
Most of the Boere-tunes are folksongs. The great trek from the Cape in 1838 , inland to the Transvaal has a lot to do with the popularity of the concertina, as well as the distribution thereof. There must have been quite a number of concertinas around in the Cape as it was under British rule at the time. There were quite a few players at the time who mastered the instrument by that time so the concertina was on the move around the turn of the 20th century. Many black musicians made it part of their music and dances.
That’s right folks! Play Of The Day is a wonderful piece of close harmony singing in Zulu by the group Izinkayezi. A wonderful obscure single released on City Lights Records in 1985. For your ears only…
Greetings all, it’s now official, the program for the festival Rio Loco has been published!
This year in June the city of Toulouse, France will showcase the best of contemporary South African music all in one festival. The line-up is truely amazing and you will have the change to see and hear the most important South African artists in a marathon gathering between June 17th -21th with additional dates added.
From Mashkanda, Mbaqanga, Zulu styles to folk, jazz, hip-hop and electronic, the South African rhythms will make nearly 2000.000 festival-goers vibrate during one of the most important world music French festivals; Rio Loco.
International stars will share the stage with new talents unknown in France or Europe. The audience can attend creation between South Africans and French musicians or original artistic meetings specially created for the festival. The exceptionally low prices surely will attract a wide public; entrance fee is only 5 Euro.
The festival Rio Loco takes place on various stages throughout the city, along the river Garonne, in parks, in clubs, at special locations and after- parties. Surely this festival is not to be missed!
Find all info on artists, locations and schedules here.
Mbaqanga developed in the South African shebeens during the 1960s. Its use of western instruments allowed mbaqanga to develop into a South African version of jazz. Musically, the sound indicated a mix between western instrumentation and South African vocal style. Many mbaqanga scholars consider it to be the result of a coalition between marabi and kwela. Check YEBO! Zulu Vocal & Jive, Marabi Jive pt 3 for ‘Lobola Mgca’ by Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje.
Here is a 45 by an another band that uses the same name but only with a slightly different spelling; Izinsizwa Zesi Manje Manje. Can it be the backing band of Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje without the singers??
‘Tarfontein’ spells African Jazz, it’s an instrumental and the date of release is unknown, I guess this was released between 1967-1969.
Simon ‘Mahlathini’ Nkabinde (1938 – July 27, 1999) became perhaps the most influential and well-known South African “groaner” of the twentieth century who formed the Mahlathini Queens outfit to record as a studio unit for the Gallo Record Company. During the late 60’s mbaqanga evolved into the more danceable mgqashiyo sound when bassist Joseph Makwela, from the group Makhona Tsohle Band and guitarist Marks Mankwane joined forces with Mahlathini. Their music soon became a national sensation, pioneering mgqashiyo all over the country to great success.
1967 saw the arrival of Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje, an mgqashiyo female group that provided intense competition for the Mahotella Queens. Both groups were massive competitors in the jive field, though the Queens usually came out on top.
‘Awufuni Ukulandela Na?’ by Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje and ‘Umkhovu’ by Mahlathini & The Queens are featured on ‘Next Stop Soweto’, a new compilation by Strut that was released at the beginning of March 2010.
The people at Strut have done a great job; immaculate choice of material, great restoring of the original 45’s, good cover art…even the pressing sounds excellent.
But why does some of the chosen material sounds so distorted?? Is it the mastering? Restoration of the original recordings??
This question can only be answered by listening to the original recordings and after doing so, I have to admit that some of the tracks on this compilation were recorded either in poor conditions or possibly by speedy producers who wanted to record as many tunes as possible within the limited time scale of a studio rented for the day.
Many titles are by totally obscure groups whose singles were short lived whilst other groups like Mahotella Queens and Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje gained popularity during their careers and who became South Africa’s best known popular artists.
‘Next stop Soweto’ comes as a double vinyl package whilst the CD package features an extensive booklet featuring detailed notes by compiler Francis Gooding alongside many previously unseen archive photos.
For a period of fifteen years during the 1960’s and well into the 70’s, solo sax jives enjoyed an enormous popularity throughout the entire southern African subcontinent. The melodies were always simple but catchy and were carried by the saxophone, usually in conjunction with a guitar, violin, accordion or electric organ. A tight rhythm section underpinned the lead instruments using a drum kit and electric bass and often electric guitar as well.
Nkosi was one of the most succesful and influential sax players of that era. He toured continously, usually together with the Makhona Tsohle Band and the Mahotella Queens, and scored an impressive list of hit records. His music was made from different rhythms to suit all tribes living in South Africa. He took a little from each tribe, like Shangaans, Zulus, Pedis, Tswanas, Swazis, Xhosas, you name it…all their traditional rhtyhms. He took a little bit from each individual tribe and put a very strong beat on it. That alone gave his music a unique sound.
Then he used the real (western) drum and bass guitar to tighten up his music. He was one of the first people to have bought a western style bass guitar. Nkosi wanted to create his own thing, not music that was influenced by Cliff Richard, The Beatles and Rock & Roll. No, he aimed at entertaining his own people. He wanted to create more sounds for the African people…to introduce something new because technology was coming up and very influential in those days. A lot of people started buying decent hi-fi sets, no more wind-up gramophones.
The music was the only weapon where people could be relieved within their feelings, also for the oppression that they had. The music was the only thing that could heal all those problems. If someone listens to the music, then automatically they start forgetting about their problems, get themselves enjoying that music. At the same time, the music had some sort of information towards the black people that they should be patient, things will be allright. It was this feeling that West Nkosi rapped about in his music. Like listen to ‘Two Mabone’, there’s a rap there. Those raps were designed in a way that black people could understand the message of what the musicians were talking about. Some of the rapping was to advertise the actual product, but some of the message was saying ‘wake up, open your eyes…look at the future, see what’s happening’.
West Nkosi also wrote and produced his own material for other acts after 1970. Here’s one from 1982, it’s recorded for the Mavuthela group called ‘Nansi Lentombi’ and ‘Sewuyahamba Uyangishiya’ by Amaswazi Emvelo.
text based on an interview with West Nkosi 1967
from West Nkosi -original sax jive hits -GMP CDZAC 57 1991 South Africa
thanks to friendly Matsuli for the photo of Makhona Tsohle Band in 1967
greetings to all of you who visit these pages. After spending two months in the glorious summer of South Africa I just came back to Amsterdam where the Dutch winter is hopefully near over. I brought back a few boxes of rare vinyl this time, lots of 45’s and a few great SA Jazz albums, hopefully some of this music will warm the cockles of your heart.
It is quite amazing to find records like these in the wild, sometimes hidden in boxes of the usual thrift store stock. One has to dig deep to find treasures like this…
this post is about girl groups; Zulu Jive Vocal from the mid 60’s up to 1984. The two titles on Motella are by the Dima Sisters and Mthunzini Girls, two group names that were probably fabricated to cover the work of studio regulars of the Mavuthela recording team.
Other names like the S’Modern Girls remain totally obscure. The 78rpm disc by ‘The S’Modern Dolls’, from the mid 60’s, is probably by the same group recording under another name.
This disc is a true novelty as the record was pressed at 78 rpm speed, not on shellac but on vinyl. 78rpm records were pressed in South Africa throughout the 1960’s, long after nearly every other country with a record industry had abandoned the speed. So switching from shellac to vinyl while pressing records on 78 rpm format must have been a short-lived experiment of an industry in transition. I’ve never seen a record like this before although the Plastik label has produced many 45’s by producer David Thekwane.