Thursday, December 27, 2007

A second blog

Hello random people who stumble upon this blog through means I cannot discern!

I have added a second blog to my profile - called "Musical Nerdery." You can find it at I'm keeping this blog too, but I also wanted to blog about non-South African stuff as well, and having safro-jazz in the URL and concept somewhat limits that.

Horribly self-indulgent, I know. Please don't stab me.

I'll have a new post on this blog shortly - in the meantime, amuse yourselves with this lovely music video starring the excellent guitarist Louis Mhlanga!

And here's a puppy. Please buy it for me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Moses Molelekwa Review in The Citizen

The Citizen, which appears to be Joburg's answer to the New York Post (for better or worse), ran a lovely (and fitting) review of the late pianist Moses Taiwa Molelekwa's double CD album Darkness Pass. You can read it here.

Molelekwa might be the greatest pianist you have never heard. Hotep, while he was here, listened to Darkness Pass and described him as the "Sotho Keith Jarrett," which I thought was an interesting insight.

The album is solo piano, and filled with languid, slowly unfolding melodic masterworks. Some might feel the album lacks fire and power (a la Molelekwa's masterwork Genes and Spirits), but I find that point irrelevant. It is such rich music, so beautifully understated, that I don't find myself wanting for pianistic fireworks on this album.

You can buy it here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oh god...


.........I don't understand. Why...the...hell?

Hotep Idris Galeta

We had the SA pianist Hotep Idris Galeta in town this past week at my place (til my landlords decided that I can't have guests for extended periods...stupid damn lease), as he did a duo piano concert at Shutters Cafe with Onaje Allan Gumbs. Turn-out was a bit weak, but the weather was terrifying, so I suppose that's understandable.

The fine news was that we recorded one of the nights of music, and will be releasing it in the next year or two. As you know, duo piano recordings are fairly rare, and this one is particularly special. I have high hopes for the album.

If you haven't heard Hotep, he's worth tracking down. He has a solo album out on Sheer Sound called Malay Tone Poem. It features fine musicians like Marcus Wyatt and Zim Ngqawana, and is a tremendously underrated album.

Stateside, you may know Hotep from his work with Jackie McLean, notably on Dynasty and on Rites of Passage. He's also with Hotep's son, Rene, on the album Live in South Africa. Then he played with Hugh Masekela, Hadley Caliman, David Crosby, etc etc etc.

What had been interesting for me, having him in town, was the span of his music. I had known him from Malay Tone Poems and his albums with Jackie, primarily, so I always thought of him as a highly creative, Cape-style straight-ahead musician. And I was proven very, very, very wrong. His demo tape for his next album incorporates some mbaqanga, some smooth jazz, some Take 6 style gospel harmonizing...the whole gamut. It might annoy purists, but the music is excellent, and man, does Hotep have his ear to the ground for new styles.

So do check him out - he is crazy hip.

Sathima's Daughter

For those of you who do not know, Sathima's daughter is the New York-based hip hop artist Jean Grae. Who, might we add, is awesome and whose CDs should be in your collection (I'm told her major label debut is forthcoming in 2008, so keep an eye out...)

Anyways, she wrote a blog entry on her MySpace about Sathima that I wanted to re-print...

Here it is:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Mama, The AMAZING....

.....Sathima Bea Benjamin.

I'm taking this week to introduce to those of you who do not know, the beautiful spirit and song of Sathima Bea Benjamin.
Thankfully to the universe, it was decided that I was born to this amazing woman.

Beyond being the greatest, coolest, most understanding, FUNNY AS ALL HELL, learned, vulnerable, inspiring, sensitive, spiritual, potty mouthed, dependable, independent, brave, innocent, determined and 1 in the world MOM..... she is the most creative and musical inspiring spirit through the gentle vibrato of honest notes.

I hate hearing people play cd 101.9 and thinking that Najee is jazz.

Or having to grown up watching her being overlooked, under appreciated and mis-categorized.

Critically acclaimed and grammy nominated.

Understood and praised by jazz purists and scholars, those of us who believe in honest and beautiful music and weep at the moment a note pulls at our heartstrings.

This woman is a force and the reason I do what I do. Even when I want to stop. The only reason I exist and the music that I make exists.

I understand her struggle and her ambition because I have made it mine. Because she is such a warrior and fighter for things that are honest and true to her being and love and family.

A hopeless romantic and an inexplicable grace in being.

I am only a mirror of everything I have learned from her.

She has not quit nor given up, so if the small recognition that I have fought for like she taught me to can allow anyone else to glimpse and experience her fight for is
all worth it.

I am keeping up and adding pictures, photos and music all week.

She has always believed in me, unconditionally.. as a daughter and as an artist. Given me the utmost respect and love.

I would like to now return the favor.

Please, purchase a CD, spread the word, add her into your top. Google her, search for her, request her in your record stores. She is 1 in my top friends list, visit the page and purchase music directly from there as well.

My friends and I all have her current re-issue in heavy rotation.. Not because she's my mom, because she is Sathima.. and she is amazing.

My life has and does mimic hers in so many ways. As It's amazing to be getting some due after 15 years, she has been doing it for 40+ and has yet to receive a real and true acceptance from the jazz and music community as a living legend and the one and only true jazz singer from Cape Town, South Africa...In addition to owning her own label and releasing her music independently..
also, shes a hot hot hot lady.. lol.

Yes mama.. you cutie you.

Love ya'll..

Ride with us.

Support honest music.

To which I say.....amen. Everyone who knows Sathima knows this. A very wonderful person - working for her is a real pleasure.