Soweto Kinch, Theon Cross and Esra With The Metropol Orkest – Royal Albert Hall, London – August 28, 2022 – BBC Radio 3 –
The South African Jazz Songbook this weekend, performed earlier in the week at the BBC Proms and featuring Soweto Kinch on sax, Theon Cross on Tuba with vocals by Esra and Siyabonga Mthembu, backed by The Metrople Orkest, led by Marcus Wyatt, and all happening at The Royal Albert Hall, broadcast live and recorded for posterity by BBC Radio 3.
A slight departure from our usual Jazz fare, but an essential ingredient to the roux that has always been Jazz. South African Jazz has been around for a long time, but owing to the policies of Apartheid, very little of it was heard outside South Africa.
We’ve had glimpses of it – from Abdullah Ibrahim (under the name Dollar Brand) and Hugh Masekela (who gave us the huge crossover hit, Grazin’ In The Grass) from the early and mid-1960s. But like Jazz itself, it represented only a small aspect what was a rich and wide embrace of Jazz.
Cracks in the wall began to appear in the late 1960s when a group of South African Jazz Musicians, led by a White South African, Chris McGregor migrated to the UK and set up shop as The Brotherhood Of Breath. Landing a label deal with RCA, who were starting up the eclectic offshoot label Neon. It was through those releases that an interest in what was initially known as Township Jive and then Township Jazz began to surface.
So here we are in 2022 and the dig continues, only now it’s no longer separated and all the rich history is bubbling to the surface.
Lots to digest here, in this two hour excursion – but it’s a feast. So dig in.
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