229

Andile Yenana: Who's Got the Map?

Seton Hawkins By

Sign in to view read count
Andile Yenana: Who's Got the Map? The odd title of pianist Andile Yenana's second album as a leader, as he writes, "depicts the space I am in—call it my voice, expression, interpretation of a reality transformed into compositions. While that's a mouthful, the album succeeds in this respect.

A disheartening trend in some South African jazz is a common desire to fashion a "global village sound: so many styles are referenced and used that the result becomes impersonal. Yenana never succumbs to such problems. His roots are always evident—his comping evokes McCoy Tyner; his compositions show the influence of John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Abdullah Ibrahim; and his solos often recall the simple, lyrical beauty of another great South African pianist, Pat Matshikiza. However, as he amply demonstrates on this album, Yenana is more than the sum of his influences. While he may stretch his horizons and try new styles, the album is unmistakably in his own voice, and it boasts a rare coherence in form and style.

While every piece on this album is excellent, several stand out. "South Central and "Pillar to Post are gorgeous solo piano outings in which Yenana showcases his singing melodic lines and his subtle, shifting harmonies, even exploring new timbres by strumming directly on the piano strings. "Mr. Harris is a greasy funk outing that highlights the trumpet work of Sydney Mavudla, whose slurry, note-bending, relaxed sound is pitch-perfect. Finally, "Sydney's Etude 2, composed by the album's saxophonist, Sydney Mnisi, is the sort of track that John Coltrane would have recorded had he been South African. Mnisi's hard metallic tone, restless solos, and saxophone cries speak strongly of Coltrane's influence.

Particular praise must be given to the album's drummers, Clemment Benny ("Pedal Point" and "Mr. Harris") and Marobo Morjele (all other tracks). They lay down dense, driving beats that literally blast Yenana's music forward. The combination of this drumming with Yenana's free-flowing comping and the horns entering and exiting on weak beats endows a rhythmic flexibility to the tracks that is at times jarring, but highly impressive.



Given Yenana's past work—eg. his recordings with Zim Ngqawana and his own 2002 debut, We Used to DanceWho's Got the Map? has a lot to live up to. However, Yenana is not one for complacency, and his restless exploration of his musical vision has resulted in one of 2005's best albums.

Track Listing: Pedal Point; Sydney's Etude; Dream Walker; Rwanda; Umunyu; South Central; Mr. Harris; Flat No. 22; Pillar to Post; Sydney's Etude 2.

Personnel: Andile Yenana: piano; Sydney Mavudla: trumpet; Sydney Mnisi: alto and tenor saxophones; Jimmy Mngwandi: double bass; Basi Mahlasela: percussion; Clemment Benny: drums; Marobo Morojele: drums.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Sheer Sound | Style: African Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Flying Machines" CD/LP/Track Review Flying Machines
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Angry Waves Vol.1&2" CD/LP/Track Review Angry Waves Vol.1&2
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 27, 2016
Read "Rise Of Orion" CD/LP/Track Review Rise Of Orion
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "From the Nocturnal Chironian" CD/LP/Track Review From the Nocturnal Chironian
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 14, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!