MBIZO DAY – today, Wednesday 30th November
The Pan African Space Station (PASS) will host a 24 hour live broadcast of music written and/or performed by healer, musician, composer and painter Johnny Mbizo Dyani (30 November 1945 – 24 October 1986), as well as rare interviews with the artist and comments by people who knew and worked with him.
TUNE IN HERE from 12:00 midday (GMT+2) today, Wednesday 30 November till midday on Thursday 1 December.
This listening session is in celebration of Mbizo’s life work and in commemoration of 30 years of his passing.
During his short life, Mbizo helped to establish the Blue Notes, a group he co-founded with Chris McGregor, Louis Moholo, Mongezi Feza, Dudu Pukwana and Nic Moyake, as the one of the most innovative and powerful forces in jazz. Or more precisely, what he called the SKANGA (a family of black creative musics). Mbizo was a highly sought-after bass player and vocalist who performed with some of the music’s most important figures, including Don Cherry, Abdullah Ibrahim, David Murray, Mal Waldron, Famoudou Don Moye, Khan Jamal and many more. He recorded over 70 albums.
In addition to Chimurenga people, selectors and speakers include Keorapetse Kgositsile, Lefifi Tladi, Marcus Wyatt/Blue Notes Tribute Orkestra, Louis Moholo, Lesego Rampolokeng, Ikapa Jazz Movement, Tete Mbambisa, Maakomele Manaka, DJ Mighty, Tumi Mogorosi, Dala Flat, and many more.
And check out this wonderful performance from July 1971, broadcast live on French television.
It’s weird how the recording industry warps experience. We can sometimes forget that every recording is only one iteration that was captured and set in stone as “The” Definitive Performance, when really it just happened to be captured that particular time among many, many other possible times. Records, like photos, pluck moments out of time and concretise them… And they are the only thing we’re left with later to glimpse a whole era. That’s why densely detailed archives such as Ian Bruce Huntley‘s, where there were many recordings of the same bands made during the same era, are so interesting. I’ve posted here, and in the preceding post, recordings of the same band on two consecutive nights.
One of the lovely things about everyone having a camera in their pocket on their phone is that this is not something that is rare anymore, and the democratisation of shared experience is a very powerful and positive thing. One of the horrible things is that there is just such a volume of recorded stuff (much of questionable quality) being generated that the brightest nuggets of wonder can be drowned in the dross… Too much recording and we have a shaky, pixelated backup of every moment kept on hard drives, that no one ever has time to live through twice, to the extent that everything melts into undifferentiated, indigestible “big data” and can only be apprehended as statistics. I feel very ambivalent about it.
I think it’s really important that, whenever possible, we still have experienced photographers, videographers and sound recorders assigned to do this stuff, so that in years to come what we are left with are some beautiful and considered recordings, and not just a haunted avalanche of muddy glimpses.
An incredible gig at Straight No Chaser, Cape Town, South Africa, 16 January 2016.
Louis Moholo: Drums
Shabaka Hutchings: Tenor Saxophone
Kyle Shepherd: Piano
Brydon Bolton: Double Bass
A koeksuster twist.
This coming Tuesday, find out more about the extraordinary archive of photographs and live recordings made by Ian Bruce Huntley in the 1960s and early 1970s. In 2013 I was involved in putting this archive of recordings online, which you can explore HERE.
Keeping Time: Ian Bruce Huntley’s South African jazz archive
by Jonathan Eato
Ian Bruce Huntley is not a name that you’ll find readily in the burgeoning annals of South African jazz. Unless, that is, you talk to the dwindling generation of jazz musicians who were working in South Africa in the mid-1960s. Tete Mbambisa remembers Huntley as the man who ‘recorded our gold’, and this Huntley did through a series of remarkable photographic images and live audio recordings. Having privately preserved these records for over forty years, throughout the state repression of grand-apartheid and into the democratic era, they have recently been made available for the first time.
This talk will consider how, in the face of increasing political oppression, Huntley’s archive documented a community of vernacular intellectuals exploring and developing ideas in counterpoint to much commercially available South African jazz post-‘Pondo Blues’.
For more info:
tel: 021 650 2888
Facebook event HERE.
NOTES BY ROBERT TRUNZ
“Back in 1994 during the Outernational Meltdown recordings, in the early hours of the morning after we had finished one of the many late night recording sessions, Moses and I were the only ones left in Downtown Studios, Jo’burg. We were hanging out together, with Moses seated at one of the pianos whilst I settled down on the floor next to him. It was there that I first heard him playing solo piano.
Moses took me on a journey that lasted almost 3 hours, a journey that, for somebody who is normally not particularly enamoured by the piano, expanded my horizons and revealed a depth of Moses that few people have probably ever had the privilege to encounter.”
Read more about this recording HERE.
This dubbed video is completely hilarious, but what it also shows up starkly is the relative authority and gravitas we give to the American voice. We shouldn’t. Global media speaks in an American accent. Even when what it peddles is not true, it sounds convincing. Question it. Always.
Watch the brand new music video for Umlilo’s “Out of My Face”, the third single off the Shades of Kwaai EP. The song is produced by Umlilo (Siya Ngcobo) and mixed by Ross Dorkin.
— CREDITS —
Directed by: Tlhonepho Thobejane
Director of Photography: Christian Denslow
Styling: Art Mataruse
Lighting and Photography: Mads Norgaard
Edited by: Lukas Kuhne
Assistant Editor: Sisanda Msimang
Production Assistant: Zandile Mjekula
Umlilo costume design: Maxinne Friesnieg
Makeup: Charli JVR and Liandi Ahlers
Special thanks to the fierce all stars: Phoenix Norgaad, Soneda, Angelo Valerio, Devan Hendricks, Amogelang Lebethe, Zani Moleya and The Ragdollz (Alex Alfaro, Keelin Simmons, Wentzel Ryan, Darion Adams, Sheldon Michaels)
Ross Campbell wrote this heartfelt song for our extraordinary, mercurial friend, the visionary artist and musician Alex van Heerden, who was killed five years ago this morning in a car accident. The hole he left will never be closed.
HERE is another tribute written by Righard Kapp at the time of Alex’s passing.
And here is Alex talking with his singular insight at a workshop on Cape music held in Basel in 2006:
From the LP Good News From Africa (ENJA 2048, 1973).
Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand): piano, vocal, flute
Johnny Dyani: bass, vocal, bells
A Depeche Mode cover by this rising star based in Johannesburg. You can stream his brand new debut album HERE.
Thank you for being here, Sathima. I am so grateful that I had the chance to meet you before you left… May you go in peace.
The track above comes from the album, A Morning in Paris, recorded in 1963 but only released in 1996.
Sathima Benjamin met Duke Ellington while he was in Zurich for a short engagement in February of 1963. Standing in the wings during most of the Ellington band’s performance, once the concert ended she insisted that Duke hear her husband Abdullah Ibrahim (then known as Dollar Brand)’s trio at the Club Africana, one of the few local jazz spots where the couple could work fairly regularly. Duke obliged and liked what he heard, but he also insisted that Benjamin sing for him. He adored her voice and promptly arranged for the couple to fly to Paris and record separate albums on the Reprise label (at the time, Ellington was the A&R man for Reprise Records). Ibrahim’s record, Duke Ellington Presents The Dollar Brand Trio, was released the following year and subsequently helped him build a following in Europe and the USA. Benjamin’s recording, unfortunately, languished in the vault because Reprise executives did not think she was “commercial” enough. It was eventually released under the title A Morning in Paris, but not until 1996.
Read about what made her so special yet kept her in obscurity HERE.
This celebration of 80s South African pulp photo comic culture was made by Lloyd Ross and Robbie Thorpe in the late 1990s.
And here’s a piece on the subject written by DR Walker:
In 1980, like so many other white males, I was dragged kicking and screaming into that institution we would come to know as the SADF. The culture shock was enormous, legions of brown clad eenvormigge troepies all marching to the tune of the National party. After almost a year of rondfok and “training” I eventually ended up in the “Operational Area” or “The Border” as it was so commonly known.
Diversions were few and far between; drinking, talking kak, getting messed around, an occasional incursion by Swapo, and reading whatever came to hand. Newspapers were great but they reminded us of home too much so we avoided them. Paperbacks we never saw or they were invariably bad cowboy novels. Our all time favourite though were those beloved and much maligned “Photo Picture Libraries” or, as we so fondly knew them: “P*** Boekies”. These trashy produced pieces of literature fascinated us because you did not need an imagination, and if you did not understand the text you could always look at the pictures. They were better than a comic and were made in South Africa too.
Of course we all had our favourites, there was “Tessa”, a platinum blonde who strutted around in a bikini all day, running through the jungles of urban South Africa while clad in her cossie and high heels. Clashing with sinister suit and shade wearing individuals who were clearly “the bad guys” Naturally she always came out on top, the hair on that blonde head not even disturbed. As far as we were concerned she was akin to a Goddess and she would have been mobbed had she ever come to the border. With hindsight, those same bad guys looked very much like the guys who appeared before the Truth Commission and spilt so much dirty laundry. Maybe Tessa knew something we did not?
Remember “Swart Luiperd, Wit Tier, Kaptein Duiwel, Grensvegter” and all that ilk? They were out in the bushes clutching their wooden machine guns, (this is a rifle, this is a gun, this is for shooting, this is for fun), killing off naughty cigar smoking Cuban clones who held the proverbial dishevelled damsel in distress captive after her convoy/aircraft/helicopter/hospital was invaded/crashed/broke down (delete whichever is not applicable). By our reckoning we were not needed on the border, those three guys would solve all the problems and we could go home to start our long delayed civvy existence. Now that I think of it, just maybe they were really out there doing dirty deeds while we were being fed propaganda about how good the SADF and SAP were. Go on reading HERE.
For a critical history of South African pulp comics, read Sean O’Toole’s 2012 Mail & Guardian piece.
All I know is that DJ CALL ME is apparently Aubrey Lebese on keyboard and Lucas on drums. They have some other tracks up on Youtube, which are nothing like this Aphex Twin acidesque gem, and a ReverbNation page HERE.
Beautiful, brand new video for South African vocalist/rapper/musician/Afro-futurist Spoek Mathambo‘s song, “Stuck Together”, taken from the acclaimed Father Creeper album, released earlier this year on Sub Pop. Directed by French film-makers Elias Belkeddar and Ugo Mangin.