January 11, 2009

Vocal jive

If I remember correctly, it was some time during the mid-1980s that I found the "South African Jive" series of cassettes of which this is the first (of five). I admit it took me a while to get a taste for the music. But over the years it has grown, not just because of the music itself, but also because of (my understanding of) its historic value.

I was under the impression that we were going to be flooded with South African music from the 1950s and 1960s after the demise of the rule of apartheid. But a decade and a half later, I think I can safely say that instead of a tsunami we have seen no more than a trickle.
And that's a pity.

Of the Dark City Sisters nearly a full CD has been released (Earthworks - CDEWV 31). This vocal quartet from the township of Alexandra (nicknamed "Dark City" because of the absence of electricity and street lighting - more here) was led -from the start in 1958- by Joyce Mogatusi, who was originally from Botswana. The Dark City Sisters feature in seven of the eighteen tracks of this cassette (two of which are also on the Earthworks CD), and Joyce Mogatusi has two more tracks with saxophonist Boy Masaka.

The other half of this cassette features four tracks by the Flying Jazz Queens, who also have two tracks on the Earthworks compilation (one of which is also on this cassette), two by Intombi Zodwa (Xhosa for "girls only") and one each by the Travelling Sisters, the New Farm Sisters and (Alexandra?) Black Mambazo.

My favourite tracks are the two by the Dark City Sisters backed by the wonderful swinging Transvaal Rocking Jazz Stars. Especially "Tomati Yo Yo No.3" is a track which is rooted in my memory forever. "Ulwandhle" by the Flying Jazz Queens is another qualifier for the catalogue of all-time African classics, as is - of course - the great "Langa More (Tap Tap)", which features (the late) Simon 'Mahlathini' Nkabinde.

South African Jive Vol. 1 - Zulu Vocal Jive

PS: much more about South African music can be read in Matt's blog. And I see Likembe also has a post about South African music.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this - I think Matsuli will soon be helping swell the trickle of Sa jive music into something stronger - Chris A

Anonymous said...

Nice. And only a couple that overlap with the "Star Time" album.

Mark said...

Fantastic! I'd been looking for DCS stuff like crazy. Thanks for all the great music you post here.

Anonymous said...

wow, awesomely great music, many thanks for sharing! -mb

Unknown said...

This collection is beautiful. the guitar playing throughout is wonderful.

Thank you for sharing.

Alkis Giamalis said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you EJ.

Searching for one (just one) photo of the Flying Jazz Queens.

Does anyone have some?