Gwen Ansell: Soweto Blues
Granted, there are still some quibbles that some people might have. The CD does contain the classic jazz track "Scullery Department, but uses the new group Voice's recording instead of the original recorded by the Jazz Epistles supergroup. However, I'm quite comfortable with their move to introduce this newer group to the mainstream. Likewise, the inclusion of Winston Mankunku Ngozi's "Inhlupeko, instead of his legendary "Yakhal' Inkomo, might annoy people, especially as the two songs are fairly similar, but there is certainly something to be said for showcasing some of his newer material. And obviously, some fans who are more familiar with the music will have their own personal "I would have included this track over that track issues, but that's unavoidable.
However, whatever quibbles one might have, nobody can accuse this compilation of favoring any given style of South African jazz. There are strong showings by Voice, Ngozi, Eric Nomvete, and Tete's Big Sound, all of which wear the influences of modern American jazzfrom Monk to Coltrane to Ayleron their sleeves. Likewise, modern-day experimental artists Carlo Mombelli and Zim Ngqawana are given strong showings; funkier outings like Pacific Express make an appearance; the innovative Zulu-flavored jazz of Sakhile is present; and the exiles Jonas Gwangwa and Louis Moholo are both represented.
Ultimately, the biggest complaint one might have with this album is that it is only one CD long. With nearly one hundred years of recorded history, Sheer Sound could have harvested a full boxed-set of material. However, the CD, like the book itself, is most successful when viewed as a launching pad into further exploration of this music. Most of the artists here have at least one album still commercially available (some, like McCoy Mrubata, have many), and one can just as easily find other artists similar to the ones presented on Soweto Blues. With luck, people will do just that.
Note: Soweto Blues is available online from One World.
Personnel: Nancy Jacobs: vocals; Tillie Jacobs: vocals; Pamela Clarens; vocals; Todd Matshikiza: piano; Marcus Wyatt: trumpet; Sydney Mnisi: saxophone; Andile Yenana: piano; Herbie Tsoaeli: bass; Morabo Morojele: drums; Eric Nomvete: saxophone; Winston Ngozi: saxophone; Lulu Gontsana: drums; Frank Mooki Leepa: guitar, vocals; Maruti Selate: bass, vocals; Moss Nkofo: drums; S. Mokoena; keyboards; Rich van Heerden: saxophone; William Ramsay: saxophone; Eirfaan Gillan: saxophone; Stompie Monana: trumpet; Warric Sony: trombone; Lloyd Ross: guitar, keyboards; Tete Mbambisa: piano; Tex Nduluka; trumpet; Barney Rachabane: saxophone; Duke Makasi: saxophone; Aubrey Simani: saxophone; Freeman Lambatha: saxophone; Enoch Mnthalane: guitar; Sipho Gumede: bass; Dick Khoza: drums; Jonas Gwangwa: trombone; Frank Williams: saxophone; Claude Depper: trumpet; Dave De Vries: trumpet; Dennis Mpale: trumpet; Bheki Mseleku: piano, saxophone; Dave Newanson: bass; Richard Baillet: drums; Thebe Lipere: percussion; Torera: mbira; Sophie Mgcina: vocals; Pinky May: vocals; Ruby Serame: vocals; Lucky Ranku: vocals; Pet Sefolosha: saxophone, vocals; Duze Mahlobo: guitar; Sam Tshabalala: guitar, vocals; Pat Mokoka: bass, vocals; Bruce Madoda Sosibo: drums, vocals; Khaya Mahlangu: saxophone, flute; Mabi Thobejane: percussion; Menyatso Mathole: guitar; Kwazi Shange: drums; Xoli Nkosi: keyboards; Shaluza Max Mntambo: vocals; Victor Nxumalo: vocals; Zamo Mbutho: vocals; Bongani Masuku: vocals; Paul Abrahams: bass; Jack Momple: drums; Chris Schilder: keyboards; Issy Ariefdien: guitar; Zayn Adam: vocals, percussion; Basil Coetzee: saxophone, flute; Robbie Jansen: saxophone, flute, trumpet, vocals; Jack Momple: drums; Michael Martin: piano; Vic Higgins: percussion; Titch Jean-Pierre: guitar; James Kibby: guitar; Django Bates: E-flat Peckhorn; Louis Moholo: drums; John Fourie; guitar; Carlo Mombelli: bass; Joe Runde: guitar; Niell Ettridge: drums; Zim Ngqawana: saxophone, flute, harmonica, bells, vocals; Kevin Gibson: drums; McCoy Mrubata: saxello; Gloria Bosman: vocals; Romeu Avellino: percussion.
Tracks: Meadowlands; Scullery Department; Pondo Blues; Inhlupeko (Melancholy); Madhouse; Black Heroes; She-Been; Sound of the People; Ubuhle Bako; Black Fire; Song for Winnie; You Ain't Gonna Know Me Cause You Think You Know Me; On the Other Side; Gobbliesation (In a Global Village); Romeo and Alek Will Never Rhyme.