While legions of South African jazz artists left the country in the '60s to escape apartheid, saxophonist Winston Mankunku Ngozi stayed home, and he paid a heavy price for his choice. Expatriates like Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela circulated within American and European jazz communities, earning exposure and recognition. Mankunku labored under a regime which restricted his personal and musical freedom, sometimes performing under a psuedonym or behind a curtain. But his 1968 record Yakhal' Inkomo stands as one of the greatest masterpieces in South African musical history.
In contrast to that forward assertion of identity, Mankunku's music ...read more
Quick and to the Point : Burning Down the House!.
Winston Mankunku Ngozi had no blowing restrictions on this date, that’s for sure! Although there are only seven compositions in this Ngozi production, there is enough in all of the cuts to please and fill anyone’s appetite in this fantastic oeuvre that varies itself repeatedly keeping you attentive at large. Bottom line is, you must get this one.
“Khanya” has a hyphenated identity where African jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythmic bases unveil a saxophonist of panoramic proportions, particularly in mainstreamed sections. Swinging transitions and calls to switch ...read more
Jika, the first full-fledged collaboration bewteen South African saxophonist Mankunku and keyboard player Mike Perry, is an unqualified success. As an authentic statement, this record demands that you accept it on its own terms. That's not difficult, given the understated, simmering pulse that runs throughout--and the soaring, open melodies which give it shape. But on the other hand, it's equally important not to impose a jazz-purist sensibility on this recording, because the rich overtones of the South African tradition play a vitally important role.
The opener, Wajikeleza," illustrates the seeming dichotomy of traditions that defines Jika. The title ...read more
If saxophonist Winston Mankunku's 1968 masterpiece Yakhal'Inkomo was a high point for modern jazz, then 1998's Molo Africa represents an unabashed retreat to his South African roots. In case you're wondering, those roots run deep. (Think mbaqanga if you're familiar with South African styles.)
Molo Africa is a celebration of melody in uncomplicated harmonic settings, pulling its energy from the voices sailing on top (in many cases, Mankunku on tenor). The third tune, Lagunya Khayelitsha," offers a very straightforward progression through four-unit harmonies. But it's fresh because the saxophonist and trumpeter Feya Faku lay out some clear, soulful lines on ...read more