The debut from Jesse Mogale is a statement of self-understanding and an elaboration on relational identitythis South African bassist's means of discovering himself and creating music driven by and juxtaposed against broader backdrops, including the reach of his own past, the culture of his homeland, the shape and history of the entire African continent and the vast world beyond it. Neither sound nor stories nor influence can be viewed as an attendant matter in this work, as Mogale eyes all as one.
Opening, fittingly, with "Dedication to our Mother," the leader, his brother Moss Mogale (on guitar), the rest of the rhythm section and a multi-horn frontline explore the draw of maternally-shaped memories painted in deep-hued harmony and swing. The title track follows, leaning on Sepedi culture, adopting dancing rhythmic sensibilities and shining with the warm and welcoming blend of Ntsikelelo Mcwabe's flugelhorn, Sydney Mnisi's flute and Kopano Mashile's trombone. Then a complete shift in tone and texture takes hold when Mogale jettisons all but his axe and Tshepo Monareng's piano for a charming trip through Mackay Davashe's well-known "Lakutshon' Ilanga."
In moving deeper into the program, Mogale reveals how his heart beats. "Tribute to Bro' Moss" is a joyous stroll honoring his band mate and older sibling, a clear formative influence. "Homeless Child" uses an aching arco introduction to set the scene for a powerfully buoyant and honest look at a worldwide crisis. "Harvest Song," drawing on Marabi music's ebullience, finds a nonet radiating positive vibes. And the intimate setting of "Tranquility," for trombone, bass and piano, points to a goal state and logical end point, playing as an invocation and act of acceptance. There's more that's created before that conclusion spoken words, virtuous vocals, tributes and tributaries connecting one idea to anotherand there's certainly plenty that might follow in the future. But, for the moment, Jesse Mogale's musical inscriptions about the nature of heritage, cemented clearly with this album, are more than enough.
Dedication to Our Mother; Heritage from an African Continent; Lakutshon' Ilanga'; Tribute to Bro' Moss; Homeless Child;
Mokhura; I Remember Bro Les and Bro Cooper; Harvest Song; Short Stories; Things Finally Get Better; Lullaby for an
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