Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Jazz in District Six: The Zambezi Restaurant: part 1 - Celebrating International Jazz Day

Distric Six Cape Town (1964): Pic Ian Bruce Huntley
It is written that Cape Town's Zambezi Restaurant in Hanover Street, District Six, first became really popular as a Sunday night jazz venue in 1956 when the second Arab-Israeli war closed the Suez Canal shipping channel. Shiploads of American soldiers in transit would dock in Cape Town, with the bop jazz-lovers among them frequenting District Six, listening to racially mixed groups of South Africans of Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other faiths together creating music.

In celebrating International Jazz Day (30th April), Electric Jive is honoured to be able to share a previously unheard set of 1964 recordings made by Ian Bruce Huntley at this fabled venue.

Hanover Street, District Six (1964). The Zambezi Restaurant
was about half way down, on the right. Pic: Ian Huntley
rumpeter Syfred Woodrow Dlova describes the times to Lars Rasmussen: “The big American battleships, the aircraft carriers, they used to come here, and some of the black Americans would get off the boat and come and perform ... and have a good time!. Some of them were great musicians. That is before those people went out of their minds (the apartheid government). At one time, they stopped an aircraft carrier from docking in Cape Town because there were black pilots there. They said, No, we can’t have black pilots flying planes over a white country! They were sick, man!. (Jazz People of Cape Town, p.60)

As I continue to process and digest just over 56 hours of Ian Huntley’s recorded archive it becomes possible to notice which musicians performed regularly together. Given the increasingly oppressive racial separation enforced in the mid 1960s, Ian's archive provides strong evidence of these artists persisting with some success in being a defiant multi-racial creative pulse that coursed through the heart of Cape Town's jazz scene in the sixties and early seventies.
"Fairyland" District Six: Pic Ian Huntley

There were some complex dynamics that enabled an ongoing racial mix of South African musicians to play in public. Sammy Maritz talks about the change of name of the Jazz Disciples to the Ronnie Beer Quintet, and then when Mongezi Feza joined them, to the Ronnie Beer Sextet: “To tell the truth, because he was a white guy. So it proved opportune to have a name like that. At that stage, it was good to have a white guy with you. Especially when we had to do night clubs and things. This is the kind of things people won’t tell you. They sort of want to run down the white. White was a good thing at some times. Through this guy we could get into some clubs that we could never go in a black group altogether. The groups I played with was always mixed, there was always white guys and I didn’t see colour. If it was a black guy and we spoke the same thing as far as music that was it. That was the colour - the colour of music.” (Rasmussen p.132/3).

District Six (1964). Pic: Ian Huntley
Ian Huntley remembers the Zambezi Restaurant as a dark and difficult place to take photographs in. Owned by Abie Hurzuk (he also owned The Mermaid), the Zambezi was located on Hanover Street, the bustling ‘central business district’ of District Six. Ian recorded close on three hours of live music there. He also took some amazing pictures.

The eighty four minutes of recordings shared in this post are a testament to the diverse groupings and mix of musicians who gathered to entertain at the Zambezi.
If you have not had chance to check out the earlier posts that share Ian Huntley's unique recordings, use the SEARCH function in the right hand column of this blog - search "IBH Jazz".

Jazz at the Zambezi Restaurant
Part one (1964)
Ronnie Beer* (Tenor), Chris Schilder (Piano), Philly Schilder (Bass), Max ‘Diamond’ Dayimani (Drums), Selwyn LissackP(Drums)

1.    Billie's Bounce* (3:33)
2.    Bessies Blues (6:50)
3.    Milestones* (8:52)
4.    Misty (8:21)
5.    Saints*P(9:58)

Ronnie Beer (tenor), Bucs Chonco (Piano), Philly Schilder (Bass), Max Dayimani (Drums)
6.     Green Dolphin Street (8:04)
7.     Mr Mecca (6:39)

Ronnie Beer (tenor), Chris Schilder (Piano), Philly Schilder (Bass), Selwyn Lissack (Drums),
Mike Gibbs (Trombone), Bob Tizzard (Trombone)

8.     Bag’s Groove (11:51)
9.     Softly As a Morning Sunrise (8:57)

Tony Schilder (Piano), Basil Moses (Bass), Selwyn Lissack (Drums), Mike Gibbs (Trombone),
Bob Tizzard (Trombone), Ronnie Beer (Tenor)

10. Billie's Bounce (11:00)

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Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Raiders Go Latin: Guitars A Go-Go (1967)

While we are on a roll, here is another for the archive, and for fans of Durban's 60s and 70s dance bands to come back to enjoy in their own time. In response to the many comments on a previous posting of The Raiders, as well as e-mail requests for more,  here is their first LP. This 1967 record was the first to be released by the Raj label.

From comments to the previous post it seems that key members of the Raiders are still alive and there are fans out there who are asking for a reunion gig. Sebastian reports that his Dad, who was the Raiders' drummer. still plays regularly. 

The track Chez Gaye Special is described as a kwela, and is credited to The El Ricas, another legendary Durban dance band who went on to record on the Troubadour label. Enjoy!

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Friday, 26 April 2013

The Vampires: Underground (c1971)

The mere existence of Durban’s Raj Recording Company in the 1960s and 1970s is testament to a viable market with a unique and eclectic mix of influences among musicians and fans who were classified as “Indian” and “Coloured” at the time. I remember the time and place well, buying my "underground" vinyl at Record King in the bustling Ajmeri Arcade off Grey Street. At that time in Durban "underground music" referred to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Pink Floyd.
I am struck by the comments on an earlier posting of “TheRaiders”, and also the follow-up e-mails I keep getting from people looking for more recordings of this clearly enduring and popular band who also recorded on the Raj label.  More of the Raiders in another post soon.
Raj Recording Company was located in Durban's CBD "Indian Quarter" at 48 Prince Edward Street, next to the Raj Cinema. They issued their first LP in 1967. Within three or four years Raj had already pressed 23 albums performed by local Dance Bands bearing names such as: Los Pepitos, Conquerors, Gay Cavaliers, El Ricas, Cyclones, Helmets, Soul Crusaders, Red Roosters, and the Green Pastures.

The LP featured in this post gives some perspective on the popularity of the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rare Earth, Wilson Pickett and even Trini Lopez. This second album by The Vampires is full of fuzz guitars, flute, and even some vocals that pass for a credible Robert Plant in Whole Lot of Love.  Motown arrives in the form of the 1970 Rare Earth hit "Get Ready", with R&B and jazz getting the nod with Herbie Mann's 1969 success, Memphis Underground. Trini Lopez toured South Africa in 1968 and was hugely popular with Unchain My Heart. Arguably the first "funk" chart topper (by Wilson Pickett in 1967) also features in the form of Funky Broadway.

Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed are vivid in their description of growing up in the Indian Quarter around that time.

We grew up in the Indian quarter during the 1960s and 1970s, Vahed in Pine Street and Desai in Prince Edward Street. Our histories are folded into the labyrinth of this area. Writing these words is to write our boyhoods. It was a time of street football (illegal of course), the electric atmosphere on Saturday nights as thousands thronged Victoria Street, dressed to the nines, to watch English and Hindi movies at Shah Jehan, Avalon and Naaz cinemas, the adolescent male street corner society with its petty chauvinisms and repressed sexualities, and the gangsters whom we both feared and respected.

“We were witness too to the emptying out of the quarter. The movie houses closing, neighbours across generations disappearing into the designated Group Areas on the outskirts of the city, the Quarter locking-down every night as shop owners pull down their steel shutters. It is a sign of the times that even the mosques have to shut shop. Those who survived the Group Areas were relocated when the Western Freeway was built in the 1970s. It comes into the city at the very point where “Red Square” stands. In the name of “development” even the dead were not spared. Part of the cemetery was lost and several hundred graves were dug up, much to the chagrin of locals. All this took place behind our backs as we watched ‘Enter the Dragon’ at the Raj Cinema, one more time.” Taken from Indians In Africa.

Raj Recording Company was one of multiple business initiatives of Rajadhaysing who, it seems, was born in the Indian Quarter in 1895. In addition to owning sugar, timber and cattle farms, Rajadhaysing established the Atlas Brick Company, National Fuel Supply (Umgeni Road) and the Raj Cinema in Prince Edward Street and the Raj Mahal Cinema in Stanger. He also owned properties in India and Scotland.
Rajadhaysing’s first two wives died in childbirth. With his fourth wife Lilawathy, they had five children. (Inside Indian Indenture. www.hsrcpress.ac.za).

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has more information on the Raj dynasty in Durban – and particularly, the Raj Recording Company.

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Daisy Dumakude's African Disco Soul Triumph (1977)

Some artists who left South Africa in the ‘dark days’ found themselves in the right place at the right time, while equally talented others just did not get the breaks they should have. Here is a great album, but allow me to introduce you to a great person too!

Thuli Daisy Dumakude: Image taken from
A French pressing of this rather extraordinary African disco soul album is hotly pursued worldwide by vinyl collectors who know. Here is the 1977 original South African pressing. 

Sure, Daisy Dumakude has been very successful, gracing the stages of Broadway, associated with multiple productions, including the Lion King, Sarafina, singing solo in the movies “Cry Freedom” and “Power of One”. But, just listen to this powerful and beautiful voice and tell me why she was not at least as big as Letta Mbulu?  Perhaps she found herself in the ‘right place’ at the ‘wrong time’, arriving in New York more than a decade later?

Born 1949 in Durban, Thuli Daisy Dumakude lives in New York, married to Welcome Msomi, the co-producer of this album. Msomi has been Director of the Izulu Dance theatre in New York since 1979. Given a living legend award by the city of her birth in 2009, Dumakude  continues her work with rural women in the village of Galibasi in Muden (KZN) doing beadwork. The beadwork is sold to New York theatre goers, with part of the proceeds going to AIDS organizations in South Africa.
Umabatha (1975) featuring
Welcome Msomi and Daisy Dumakude
In 1987 the New York Times published a rave review of a “superb” South African band featuring Dumakude as leader, with Morris Goldberg playing saxophone.  Ms. Dumakude is a simply extraordinary singer, with a vivid soprano voice that reaches up for high, Zulu-style ululations.”
Msomi and Dumakude go back a long way, with Msomi in 1975 producing Umabatha, a South African version of Macbeth set in Mfolozi around the time of Kings Shaka and Dingane. With Dumakude as ‘Lady’ Mabatha  (KaMadonsela) and Msomi as Mabatha, the production toured the world.

Itsyou! Daisy Dumakude
Produced by Johnny Boshoff and Welcome Msomi
Engineer: Owen Wolf
1. Why Did You Go Away (6:29) (Boshoff & Msomi)
2. Early In the Morning (5:15) (Msomi)

3. Call Me Baby (3:58) (Msomi)
4. It's You (6:25) (Msomi)
5. Is It True (6:21) (Boshoff)
6. Who Can It Be (3:49) (Msomi).
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Monday, 22 April 2013

Jazz in District Six: The Smart Street Sessions

District Six in Cape Town was once home to a number of the jazz musicians that Ian Bruce Huntley recorded and photographed – until this mixed and vibrant community of 60,000 people was bull-dozed by the apartheid regime.

While the community and buildings of District Six were destroyed, there have been important efforts by the District Six Museum and many others to preserve and honour the memory. In the coming months Electric Jive will be sharing two or three posts of Ian’s District Six photos and recordings as a small contribution to this important heritage.
District Six: Pic Ian Bruce Huntley
District Six was established in 1867 as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans and labourers. In 1966 the apartheid government declared the area “white” leading to the forcible removal of all its people and the destruction by bull-dozers of their homes, businesses, and places of worship.

It is with great respect and joy that Electric Jive is able to share Ian Huntley’s images and music recorded in District Six.  Just click on any of the images to get an enlarged view of all the pics in this post.Today’s musical offering is of some private sessions that took place in the Smart Street home of Basil and Cliffie Moses. In addition to the Moses brothers, Chris, Philly and Jackie Schilder feature, along with Roy Petersen, Monty Weber and Billie Dollie.

Monty Weber and Basil Moses are perhaps most widely known, in the context of South Africa’s jazz history, as having recorded prolifically – including performing on seven or eight of Abdullah Ibrahim's 1970s recordings. Both artists also feature on Sathima Bea Benjamin’s “African Songbird”, due for re-release by Matsuli next month. Monty Weber’s “District Six” album can be found here. The 1959 musical "Shebeen", set in District Six can be found here.
Basil and Cliffie Moses (1974)
Pic: Ian Bruce Huntley
You can read or listen to Colin Miller’s 1998 life history interview of Monty Weber here. Colin did a great series of interviews in the late 1990s with amongst others, Cliffie Moses, Richard Schilder, Maurice Gawronsky, Cups and Saucers Nkanuka. These recordings and documents can be accessed through the Centre for Popular Memory at the University of Cape Town.
Guitarist Cliffie Moses, three years older than brother Basil, was another professional musician who also had a day job. Cliffie tells Colin Miller of his time: “I want to say in the 10 years that we played at the Three Cellars, ... Don’t forget it was six nights a week we played. Working during the day, playing at night.” Cliffie relates that he also produced an album of “jazz from District Six”. “.. this particular song came to mind and I saw a complete picture of me walking Hanover Street and sitting on the Seven Steps. It was then that I composed this tune called "Seven Step Lament.”
Seven Steps, District Six
Pic: Ian Bruce Huntley
In 1970 Basil, Cliffie, Roy Petersen and Monty Weber were all hired to tour the country as core of Percy Sledge’s backing band for a seventeen-week sell-out tour of South and southern Africa. The tour opened to a three-week sell-out season at the 1,300-seat Luxurama Theatre in Cape Town. Percy Sledge described it as the “greatest tour of my career”.
Drummer Billie Dollie was raised by Imam Dollie. Roy Petersen, like many other talents, cut his teeth in touring with the Golden City Dixies.
According to Cliffie Moses, Chris Schilder (now Ebrahim Kalil Shihab) spent some time living at the Smart Street House, playing the piano there non-stop.

The sessions recorded by Ian were private sessions played in the Moses' home. They are split into two separate downloads, the first comprising mostly quality renditions of jazz standards. Ian recalls the second session with Roy Petersen at the piano as an impromptu jam during which the compositions "Smart Street" and "Requiem for Reg" emerged.
The Smart Street Sessions
Recorded by Ian Huntley at Basil and Cliffie Moses’double-story house in Smart Street, District Six - 1964
Chris Schilder (piano), Basil Moses (bass), Roy Petersen (Drums) Clifford Moses (guitar) 
1.     Veet Blues (9:19)
2.     Straight No Chaser (8:42)
Eckhard Street, District Six
Pic Ian Bruce Huntley
Chris Schilder, Basil Moses, Monty Weber
3.     Sad John (8:26)
4.     It Aint Necessarily So (14:26)
Chris Schilder, Philly Schilder, Jackie Schilder
5.     Look Up (7:59)
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Roy Petersen (piano), Billy Dollie (drums) Basil Moses (bass)
1. Smart Street
Roy Petersen (piano), Monty Weber (drums) Basil Moses (bass)
1. Smart Street (2)
2. Requiem for Reg
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Monday, 15 April 2013

Africa Music and Life of Today Vol. 1 (c1958)

As promised, today we feature another double disc gatefold EP similar to the one we posted last week — Music and Rhythms of Africa Vol. 2. At first I thought this was volume one in that series: the design is identical and the matrix numbers are consecutive... almost! What is different is that this disc was issued on Columbia (SEYJ 101/102) while that volume was on HMV (7EYJ 103/104) — both EMI labels. The matrix numbers for all four discs run consecutively even though their prefixes are slightly different: 7TCA 105-108 and 7TAS 109-112. Nevertheless the comments below reveal that Volume one of the HMV series does exist and can be viewed here at Soul Safari.

Where volume two of the HMV series featured "traditional" music and vocal jive, this volume focusses on African jazz and kwela. The four volumes thus marketing the key South African styles of black music in the late  1950s. The covers of both though betray an idealised, traditional view of "African life" far different from the modern images of musicians found inside the gatefolds. It is likely that these EPs were marketed to white audiences or for international export.

Disc one opens with the Sharpetown Swingsters playing two 1957 tracks you may be familiar with from Electric Jive's Majuba Jazz compilations. Two tracks by the Sophiatown Septet follow. Disc two focusses on kwela and features the Jumping Jacks with one track composed by Zacks Nkosi. If you are a fan of Tom Hark and are looking for other material by Elias and his Zig Zag Jive flutes then side two will not disappoint. Bomma, composed by Rupert Bopape, is vocally quite dynamic, with the base background singing sounding very familiar to me... did Miriam Makeba sample this melody in one of her later songs?

As before, here are some excerpts from the rather dry liner notes:

The Sharpetown Swingsters
"The Sharpetown Swingsters, unlike most other African Jazz bands do not come from Johannesburg, but they live in a quiet little town on the banks of the Vaal River, the border of the Transvaal and the O.F.S. They are extremely popular and have brought much entertainment to their people. Their jazz, which is known as "Marabi", differs from other African Jazz in that it is closely linked with African traditional music. In fact, "Maeba" and "Jikela Bessie" could be called Traditional African Jazz."

"The Sophiatown Septet are a truly exceptional group. Not one of them can read a note of music! They are "natural" musicians, who never fail to please their audiences. The Septet, all young Johannesburg boys, were brought together by our African talent scout Rupert Bopape and are now one of the top names on Bantu records."

Elias and his Zig Zag Jive Flutes
[...] "Elias Lerole, leader of Elias and his Zig Zag Jive Flutes, is one of the best exponents of the penny-whistle in this country, and this group has already had one of their records released on the international market. The tune, "Tom Hark", was written by Rupert Bopape, and since it was featured in the T.V. serial "The Killing Stones" it has caused quite a sensation overseas, reaching the top twenty on the English "Record Mirror" hit parade within 3 weeks of issue." [...]

AFRICA Music and Life of Today Vol. 1
Columbia, EYJ 101/102

1) Sharpetown Swingsters — Maeba (trad. arr. H. Bessie) 
2) Sharpetown Swingsters — Jikela Bessie  (H. Bessie) 
3) Sophiatown Septet — Sophiatown Special (Blacky) 
4) Sophiatown Septet — Blacky (Blacky) 
5) Jumping Jacks — Jumpingjack Special (I. Nkosi)
6) Jumping Jacks — Opa Skaef Weet (D. Moumakoe)
7) Elias and his Zig-Zag Jive Flutes — Dark City (E. Lerole)
8) Elias and his Zig-Zag Jive Flutes — Bomma (R. Bopape)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Music and Rhythms of Africa Vol. 2 (c1958)

Today we continue the series on interesting EPs. I recently came across this double disc gatefold 45 and was struck by how eclectic the eight tracks were on the compilation. The first four cover what has been termed "traditional" music and the remaining are a number of vocal jive and kwela hits from around 1958. It is the "traditional" music that I found most striking, especially the tracks by Veshna Dinaka which, to my ear, come across as quite dissonant and sound remarkably contemporary and almost avant-garde. Likewise the two tunes featuring autoharp or dipela are equally arresting.

The second disc couldn't be more of a contrast opening with the jazzy vocal number, Thimela, composed by Elijah Nkwanyane and performed by Philemon Mokgosi and his Inkspots. (I believe Nkwanyane is on trumpet.)  What follows must be one of the first recordings by the Dark City Sisters, Bra-Cabbage, penned by Rupert Bopape and accompanied by the pennywhistle group Black Mambazo (not LBM). Interestingly the liner notes reveal that the Dark City Sisters recorded this tune "spontaneously" after they just happened to come with their "boy-friends", the members of Black Mambazo, to the studio that day.

Below are some excerpts from the rather dry liner notes:

[...] "MADIKOTI and PHALA BORWA are played on an unusual instrument known as "Dipela", which is an African traditional piano or autoharp. It is made of beaten wire which is flattened and fitted on to a wooden board and sometimes this is placed in a large calabash (gourd) or tin, to make it sound louder. The instrument is played only with the tips of the fingers. WILLIAM MALAETSE, who plays PHALA BORWA besides playing the autoharp, also wears "Mathotsi" on his legs and dances around while he is playing. (Mathotsi are similar to maracas.)"

[...] "THE AFRICAN INKSPOTS are one of the best vocal groups in the country. Their leader PHILEMON MOKGOSI is the driving force behind the group, he is a born artist, and has appeared on stage, screen and radio in South Africa. He has a voice very similar to that of our old friend Nat "King" Cole. Philemon is an extremely talented composer, with many song hits to his credit. Given the opportunity he could develop into one of the world's finest "pop" vocalists. THE AFRICAN INKSPOTS with PHILEMON MOKGOSI do a terrific job on this disc with "THIMLELA"."

"The DARK CITY SISTERS, a group of young girls who came with their boy-friends, a penny whistle flute group called the Black Mambazo, to our Recording Studio, just to look on, and unable to resist themselves they spontaneously burst into song to the accompaniment of the flutes and BRA-CABBAGE is the result. A happy little tune about the fun they have at the Zoo on a Sunday afternoon." [...]

Music and Rhythms of Africa Vol. 2
HMV, EYJ 103/104 (c1958)

1) Vesha Dinaka
Lexowa (traditional)

2) Dipela Tsabapedi
Madikoti (traditional)

3) William Malaetse
Phala Borwa (traditional)

4) Vesha Dinaka
Lexalani (traditional)

5) Philemon Mokgosi and the African Inkspots
Thimela (E. Nkwanyane)

6) Dark City Sisters acc. Black Mambazo
Bra-Cabbage (R. Bopape)

7) Thandi Kumalo
Ithemba Lami (T. Kumalo)

8) Midnite Harmoneers
Isangoma (J. Nhlapo)