Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

410

Sipho Gumede: African Sunrise

Seton Hawkins By

Sign in to view read count
Listening to the hauntingly beautiful African Sunrise, released several months after Sipho Gumede's death, one can understand why Gumede is held up as one of South Africa's great musicians. His fat, warm bass sound, his compositional gifts, his genre-defying musical creativity, and his skills as a band leader are all in full bloom here.

The album's tracks are drawn from four different sources: a collaboration Gumede had been working on with guitarist Ernie Smith; tracks recorded for Outernational Meltdown on the MELT label; unreleased tracks for Best of Part 1 for Sheer Sound records; and a remix of "Peacocks Today, Feather Dusters Tomorrow by D Rex. While the notion of an album culled from these unfinished projects might unnerve some, the musical product is one of Gumede's finest collections in recent years.

Opening the album is "Straight Home, a pared-down collaboration between Gumede and Ernie Smith. Smith showcases his crisp, clean guitar sound with long, looping melodies buoyed by Gumede's supportive yet lyrical counterpoint. While Ernie Smith has established himself as a solid and enjoyable R&B-inflected jazzman a la Jonathan Butler, it is a welcome change to hear him lay back and simply play guitar—Gumede seems to bring out the best in him.

The album has a number of other highlights. "African Sunrise, a slow, thoughtful piece driven by an mbira-like electric piano riff, opens slowly and gently into a climactic bass solo. "Peacocks Today, Feather Dusters Tomorrow, the remix track, is a change from much of Gumede's work. It opens with an ambient house beat, over which Gumede solos—an odd addition to his body of work, but highly enjoyable (if you like it, check out the fantastic South African House compilation Cape Town, 2 a.m.). Finally, "Limpopo Jive features guitarist Louis Mhlanga's choked mbaqanga guitar riffs and Mandla Masuku's staccato alto saxophone statements as nice contrasts to Gumede's richer, smoother bass sound.

However, the album's crowning track is "Song for Johnny Dyani, made all the more poignant now. Gumede takes the lead with a beautiful high-register bass solo, throwing Dyani-like riffs into his own solo. While one may question how Johnny Dyani might feel about an electric bass tribute, it nevertheless makes a great deal of sense that a tribute should come from Gumede: both bassists had warm, rich tones, were capable of highly lyrical and thoughtful solos, and were also talented composers and vocalists.

Gumede was taken from the world far too soon, and the music on African Sunrise only hints at the sort of albums he had yet to record. However, if this release leaves you wanting more, Sheer Sound has also released two volumes of Sipho Gumede's greatest hits.

Track Listing: Straight Home; Phambili; A Whisper; African Sunrise; Peacocks Today, Feather Dusters Tomorrow; Song for a Friend; Welcome Home; Song for Johnny Dyani; Limpopo Jive; Mamaye; Nikiwe.

Personnel: Sipho Gumede: bass, vocals, programming, keyboards; Ernie Smith: guitar, programming, keyboards, vocals; Paul Kock: saxophone; Leonard Rachabane: soprano saxophone; Mandla Masuku: alto saxophone; Sithembiso Ntuli: tenor saxophone; Byron Wallen: trumpet; Baba Mokoena: guitar; Jose Neto: guitar; Sibongiseni Shange: drums; Mabi Thobejane: percussion; Faca Khulu: vocals; Themba Mntambo: vocals; Lindiwe Ngwane: vocals; Tsidi Manye: vocals; Nonhlanhla Ngcobo: vocals; Xoli Nkosi: electric piano; Moses Khumalo: alto saxophone; Rob Watson: drums; Louis Mhlanga: guitar; Sydney Mavudla: trumpet; Godfrey Mcina: percussion; Manny Rodriguez: piano and strings; Martin Walters: drum programming; d rex: re-mix; Nick De-Gee: bass; Andrew Missingham: drums.

Title: African Sunrise | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Sheer Sound


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Formidable CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Cochonnerie CD/LP/Track Review Cochonnerie
by John Sharpe
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Threes CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Smoke CD/LP/Track Review Smoke
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Such A Sky" CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Parts Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review Parts Unknown
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: October 25, 2017
Read "Bright Yellow with Bass" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Double Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Double Mirror
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Slag" CD/LP/Track Review Slag
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "Ten Billion Versions of Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Ten Billion Versions of Reality
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 30, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor