Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

170

Winston Mankunku and Mike Perry: Jika

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
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 is a shorthand reference to a Xhosa idiom, which in its extended form communicates a blunt rebuttal to the intolerant righteousness of apartheid. Unless you read the liner notes, you might not guess this hidden meaning (and that's exactly what the musicians relied upon to get the recording past the censors in Pretoria). The tune has a warm, celebratory feel. Relatively simple harmonies, directly stated, revolve in a cyclical fashion around the root. On top of this foundation, maintained with taste by Perry and the rhythm section, floats a joyful, sing-song melody that instantly elevates the mood.

As the record progresses, it continues to explore this folksy, root-oriented sound. At times swinging lightly, at others touching the edges of funk, this quartet never overstates itself. The softest moment on Jika comes with "Tula Sana," the fifth tune. It bears a superficial resemblance to what Americans might dismiss as smooth jazz, but again that's an imposition which does not belong. Take the music on its own terms. The title translates to "hush beloved—everything will be all right," and it's that lullaby aura that gives the relaxed, laid back orchestration its smoothness before it eases into an easy shuffle.

Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, this record is brief. But it's a remarkably positive effort from a very dark period in South African history (1986), offering hope as a brilliant torch for the future. Regardless of your cultural standing, Jika offers the kind of understated, soft energy that resonates deep within.


Track Listing: Wajikeleza; Crossroads Crossroads; That Man There; Yho! Yho!; Tula Sana; Asiyapo; Ntyilo Ntyilo; Mikes Mood; I Wish I Knew.

Personnel: Winston Mankunku Ngozi: tenor saxophone and vocals; Mike Perry: Yamaha Grand and Yama CP70; Richard Pickett: drums; Mike Campbell: bass.

Title: Jika | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Nkomo Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Jika

Jika

Nkomo Records
2002

buy
Molo Africa

Molo Africa

Nkomo Records
2002

buy

Related Articles

Read Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
by Doug Collette
Published: December 13, 2018
Read The Forest from Above CD/LP/Track Review
The Forest from Above
by John Eyles
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Imaginary Band CD/LP/Track Review
Imaginary Band
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Night CD/LP/Track Review
Night
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 13, 2018
Read An Ayler Xmas Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
An Ayler Xmas Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2018
Read I Always Knew CD/LP/Track Review
I Always Knew
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 12, 2018
Read "Wes Montgomery In Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Wes Montgomery In Paris
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 24, 2018
Read "Dawn" CD/LP/Track Review Dawn
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2018
Read "Living Being II - Night Walker" CD/LP/Track Review Living Being II - Night Walker
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 13, 2018
Read "Vanished Gardens" CD/LP/Track Review Vanished Gardens
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: June 27, 2018
Read "Don't You Wish?" CD/LP/Track Review Don't You Wish?
by Patrick Burnette
Published: March 3, 2018
Read "The Law of Vibration" CD/LP/Track Review The Law of Vibration
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 2, 2018