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African Jazz 'n Jive

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:34 pm
by Gordon Neill
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I picked this up on a whim, for a Michelle fiver. This collection of ‘township jazz’ from the 50s and 60s is cheap, and it’s also cheerful. It will appeal to anyone who’s heard the Manhattan Brothers and liked them. It may well also appeal to anyone who hasn’t heard the Manhattan Brothers or held a conversation with them.

For anyone not familiar with this style, this is not particularly ‘authentic’ South African music, whatever that might mean. Marabi and mbaqanga are part of the mix (yes, I did read the sleeve notes) but, to my ears, it’s American swing that is the dominant style. But, as so often in these musical culture clashes, it’s not swing as we know it Jim. And, therefore, all the more interesting and fun.

The Manhattan Brothers’ ‘Vuka Vuka’ makes an appearance and I’d have to say that it’s my favourite track. But there’s plenty of other fun to be had. The Skylarks’ lovely ‘Holilili’ features a young Miriam Makeba, there are plenty of driving instrumentals, such as the Father Huddleston Band (including Hugh Masekela) blasting out ‘Ndenzeni Na?’, and there’s an ancient-sounding acapella version of ‘Mbube’ (an ancestor of that bloody ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight’ thing). At times, some of the instrumentals remind vaguely of early Satellites - there’s even a song called ‘Midnight Ska’.

24 tracks which rarely hang around longer than two and a half minutes, a fair bit of variety, and sleeve notes which allow you to crib a CD review without too much effort. Not bad for a fiver, I’d say.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:47 pm
by matt
Gordon..surely you don't want to start the authenticity debate?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:01 pm
by Gordon Neill
I don't mind. I could argue either side! I like 'authentic' as in 'not manufactured inside some computer'. But I like 'inauthentic' as in 'culture clash producing something different and interesting'. African Jazz'n'Jive is the latter.

PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 2:25 pm
by taiyo no otosan
I think this might be a reissue of an old CD on the Music Club label (possibly) that regrettably slipped through my hands a few years back. Does it have a track called something like 'Baby am a yeng' on it? Sung by a woman who might have been a Dolly or a Nancy - but I don't want to make any wild accusations. Either way, where did you pick it up from?

PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 3:22 pm
by Gordon Neill
Yes, it does have a track called 'Baby Are Yeng' by Nancy Jacobs & Her Sisters (sorry, I don't know the names of her sisters).

I was just rummaging in my local Amazon store and found it.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:16 am
by Dominic
It was available as a Gallo import - I think it had two different cover designs, the UK release using the second:
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Tracklisting here (oops, song titles only, you have to guess the artists!):
http://www.sternsmusic.com/disk_info.php?id=5144208362
The Nascente one was also good, but is now deleted:
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