Untitled Compositions

"...compository sketches..." - S. Scott Franklin

Next Stop Soweto Vol. 3: Giants, Ministers And Makers- Jazz In South Africa 1963-1984 (Album Review)

"Some of the most captivating works of art have been produced under the cloak of austerity. These pieces often serve as portraits of beauty amongst the sordid reality of life. Therapeutically, the creation of art is a way of self-medication, serving the architect as a means of release. Like “the rose that grew from concrete,” splendor ascended from the depths of a troubled political landscape in South Africa. Highlighting this is the third installment of the Next Stop…Soweto series presented by Strut Records.

This amalgamation of South African sounds, covering the years 1963 to 1978, represents the consolidation of many gifted artists. That is its superficial value. More than that, however, this collection provides a historical introspection to individuals who created in a radically different era. We give praise to those who took their talents elsewhere, but it is simply that much more astounding to recognize and reevaluate the artistry of those who never left the homeland.

Sonically, when attempting to understand this album, it is fairly obvious that South Africa was home to myriad blends of jazz throughout this particular period. I was instantly drawn to the diversity of those artists highlighted. Not being relegated to a specific sound, a healthy and eclectic pool of ideas were conjured up by its resident musicians in a time during which jazz was at its most exploratory.

The album begins “Ngena Mntan’ am” by De Ministers. The song features a moderately-paced cool jazz style comfortably injected with traditional lyricism. With such a vocal performance, it is the perfect introduction as it is identifiably of the African diaspora. Instantaneously, the mood transitions with the funk-infused guitar rhythms of Skyf and their composition “Be There.” The song is anchored by a polyrhythmic horn section that truly gives it shape…” 

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For The Revivalist