Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

260

Wessel van Rensburg / McCoy Mrubata: Kulturation

Seton Hawkins By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Wessel van Rensburg and saxophonist McCoy Mrubata have both established themselves as giants in the world of South African jazz in their respective solo careers, as well as their work together in the Sheer All Stars. Both have demonstrated ample chops, compositional skills, and musical creativity on all of their albums. But on Kulturation, the debut album for van Rensburg's Grasland label, they have created an album of such stark, understated beauty that it will surprise even longtime listeners.

Though they are joined by bassist Mlungisi Gegana, percussionist Godfrey Mgcina, and guest vocalist Jennifer Ferguson, the album focuses mostly on the delicate interplay between Mrubata and van Rensburg. Slow to mid-tempo songs that rarely rise above mezzoforte are the norm, often juxtaposing van Rensburg's dark, rolling piano lines against Mrubata's saxophone, which ranges from gentle, floating lines on "Kinders van die Wind to more raw, crying statements on "Roepstem Oor Landskap.

When the other two instrumentalists join in, the tempo picks up a little more, like on the gospel-flavored "Halala Afrika ; the comparatively forceful "Warrelwind ; and a rather mystical reading of the Manhattan Brothers' classic "Jikela Emaweni.

However, the most striking performance on the disc comes from vocalist Jennifer Ferguson. On "Rest a While, Ferguson brings a metallic and breathy approach to the text that recalls Annette Peacock's singing, while on "Mensesee Ferguson invokes the innovative vocal acrobatics of Meredith Monk, singing the wordless melody and using repeated syllables to create both atmospheric and percussive effects.

Ultimately, the tracks on Kulturation are linked thematically as a musical journey, beginning with the restless saxophone/piano interplay of early tracks, pausing at "Rest a While, but ultimately moving into the brighter, more cadential territory of the later pieces. If there is any remaining doubt that van Rensburg and Mrubata are two of South Africa's most creative new musicians, Kulturation should put all such debate to rest.

Note: This CD is available from One World on the web.

Track Listing: Roepstem Oor Landskap; Bra Gib; Kinders van die Wind; Rest a While; Halala Afrika; Mensesee; Lala Baba; Lisa Se Klavier; Jikela Emaweni; Warrelwind; Papa; Dustwind; Sy's Hier.

Personnel: McCoy Mrubata: saxophone, flute; Wessel van Rensburg: piano, synths; Jennifer Ferguson: vocals; Mlungisi Gegana: bass; Godfrey Mgcina: percussion.

Title: Kulturation | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Grasland Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "8th Window" CD/LP/Track Review 8th Window
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 11, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery" CD/LP/Track Review Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 2, 2017
Read "Malamute" CD/LP/Track Review Malamute
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Lessons And Fairytales" CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Strykin’ Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Strykin’ Ahead
by John Kelman
Published: September 2, 2017