Gloria Bosman's Tranquility
hark back to a hike through passages in the Maluti mountains in Lesotho, the Mountain Kingdom, or Kingdom in the Sky, whereupon one encounters the endangered Lekhala kharatsa, also known in Afrikaans as Kroonaalwyn or Spiral Aloe. In the flora and fauna of South African music, Bosman flowers high and attractive, just as the Aloe polyphylla
does. Of course, such a hike requires some effort in order to reap the ensuing tranquility reached when one communes with nature.
Bosman's vocal range, feel and expressive tonalities, are equal parts strength, and elasticity, just like all aloe plants throughout the world. Little else would be expected from someone professionally trained in operatic curricula, although equally proficient in Gospel, Choir, Jazz and traditional African ethnic singing. Her capacity for acting and her talent as a lyricist help secure her footing on the sun drenched easterly banks of the blossoming South African musical industry.
This recording met with critical success in South Africa and there are many reasons for it. The lyrics were written mostly in English. Those that were not are thankfully translated in the liner notes, with the unfortunate exception of "Amaqwati. They dexterously touch upon mature issues that would seem remarkable in the hands of most people as young as Bosman is. Then again, she was raised in Soweto; and therein, one matures rather quickly. "Time Will Tell is a reflection on the inevitability of life and the need for temporal resolve on any of its issues. "Boikarabelo's Lullaby belongs to the notable custom of singing melodic soothing tunes to infants. No human group can claim exclusive domain over such endeavor, although Africans do have a rich legacy in this regard. This tune's spirit and feel is somewhat related to "Drume negrita in Afro-Cuban music. Bosman's one, however, has an outstanding depth enhanced by the economical accompaniment of the excellent figures in this recording, of whom more will be whispered later. "Amaqwati is a low sizzling steady romp upon which Bosman's singing in her native tongue, which I would venture is Zulu, is first featured. As stated before in relation to Suthukazi Arosi, the percussive nature of African languages lends itself to their enjoyment within a musical framework, even if one cannot understand them. "Folded Wings was written honoring the memory of Wings Segale, a departed partner of Bosman and Paul Hanmer. It is rendered as both a lament and plea with a particular hopeful and powerful angst on the part of Bosman, Hanmer and the throaty melancholic notes stemming from McCoy Mrubata's sax. The caressing imagery of the lyrics lends itself well to the musical support expertly conceived and executed under the tutelage of the producing talents of pianist Hanmer. One wishes to have had the chance of telling Segale what Bosman wishes to convey in order to share into the powerful simplicity and meaningfulness of this composition. "Remembering Thami Mnyele touches upon the dreadful violence impinged upon South African society by the policies of Apartheid through another tune honoring a fallen human being. As Bosman states, in translation, "Men may die leaving only memories, but their loss need not be in vain because they pave the way forward for the living. The lyrical hope amidst such violent loss and meaninglessness expressed by this composition is gorgeously arranged relying heavily upon stringed instruments of various types to great effect, particularly when framed with the bright piano and percussive touches underlying it all. "Understatement brims with wisdom and touches of engaging solemnity in the face of fascist irrationality. "Mazwi Amgu is outright prophetic in conception and intention and one does not need the gift of tongues to realize it. "Sombawo, written by Khanya Ceza, is even more explicitly prophetic in its prayerful longings expressed in a tasty African milieu. Finally, "Timeless, is a rhythmic event that begins with a 2/3 Cuban clave from the piano, which leads to Bosman's search and rescue mission for the rhythmic nature of the human soul.
It is important to mention several other issues about Tranquility. The musicians are a superb bunch, managing, as true professionals do, to play much without overdoing it. Of particular note is the conceptual framework of the arrangements, as well as the piano and percussion execution, without taking anything away from the rest of the performances. The same applies to all the soloing. The sound engineering and mix are excellent.
The Spiral Aloe is endangered partly because of its role in muthi, or the indigenous medicine trade. For the time being, it remains in the eastern slopes of the caring Maluti mountain range adorning them with its striking flowering beauty. Gloria Bosman's work does the same and can sustain our shared need for healing and flowering in a more humane world. Since the taxonomic classification of the Spiral Aloe indicates that it has many leaves (poly-phylla), that can only lead to Bosman's next release The Many Faces of Gloria Bosman. A few already showed here, and they are as beautiful as a mountain flower.
Contact: For more information, visit Sheer Sound SA. For US availability, contact ReRooted Media.
Track Listing: 1. Time Will Tell 2. Boikarabelos Lullaby 3. Amaqwati 4. Folded Wings 5. Remembering Thami Mnyele 6. Understatement 7. Mazwi Angu 8. Sombawo 9. Timeless
Personnel: Acoustic Bass-Herbie Tsoaeli. Acoustic Guitar-Mabarane Louis Mhlanga (1,2). Steve Dyer (5). Backing Vocals-Gloria Bosman & Lucia Mthiyane (2,3,5,8). Paul Hanmer (5,8). Cello-Susan Mouton (5). Drums-Rob Watson. Electric Guitar-Menyatso Mathole (3,7). Mabarane Louis Mhlanga (9). Kora-Lawrence Matshiza (8). Percussion-Basi Mahlasela.
Piano-Paul Hanmer. Tenor Saxophone-McCoy Mrubata (4). Viola-Elizabeth Lizzie Rennie (5). Violin-Miroslav Chakaryan, Caius Oprea (5). Voice-Gloria Bosman (All voices on 7 and 9).
Year Released: 1999
| Record Label: Sheer Sound
| Style: African Jazz