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Tribute to Winston Mankunku 'Ngozi'
Being a very humble and true man Winston never made an effort to impress other than with his saxophone. I was privileged to hear him perform on a number of occasions in Cape Town between 1999 and 2005. It has taken me years to discover how musically active he was. His musical activities as a young man shines a true light on his unique ability and individual genius and it shines a collective light on the essence of creativity and authenticity. These are the very virtues that shift the understanding of ourselves not as isolated talents dropped in from nowhere but as a continuum of creativity with its roots in the highest force, the holy source of our universe.
Mankunku recorded the classic album ‘Yakhal Nkomo' in 1968. ‘Yakhal Nkomo' means ‘Bellowing Bull. Winston says, “It is a scream for equality and freedom, a shout for recognition of the pain we were feeling.”
Yakhal Nkomo was a landmark for the music of this country. Mankunku earned the name “raging bull” as he kept South African jazz raging like a bull. Then the bull went out to pasture for many years before recording and performing with Mike Perry. A fruitful relationship between these men brought out three soft albums. Mankunku made Molo Afrika in 1999.
Yakhal Nkomo was exploited by Gallo for many years with no pay to the composer (in what can only be described as typical music industry behaviour). After over thirty years of constant sales and licences of this song, and a constant battle with Gallo, in the year 2000 Winston received an acknowledgement of R150 000, with which he bought a gold Mercedes! Winston survived until the ripe age of 66!
Mankunku has the power to elevate people. Musician Mac Mackenzie calls him “the papa of Cape Town”, and Andile Yenana says Mankunku is “the father of all this music”. Everybody talks about Mankunku. He is much loved.
Mankunku's 60th birthday was on June 21st, winter solstice –the day Patricia de Lille launched her new independent party. For Cape Town winter solstice is always a significant date as the winter is at its coldest and the sky its most colourful. Mankunku is a musician who has played with everybody and inspired many. He has orchestras in his head –searing strings, walking bass and weeping horns. He has generations of support all the way from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape. There is much love for him here. There are venues, audiences and the media. Maybe next time it would be nice to see a birthday release –something for Mankunku.
Yet on his birthday, Mankunku was whipped up to Jo'burg for a five-day studio session. Andile Yenana from King William's Town played piano and Herbie Tsoaeli from Langa was on the bass. Lulu Gontsana and Prince Lengwasa made up the quintet. The result was Abantwana be Afrika , a dedication to youthfulness. The launch on June 16 included the Zimbabwean supergroup, Spirits Rejoice, as a support act. Chiwonisa, a promising young female mbira player, Oliver Mtukudzi, the lion, and Louis Mahlangu also starred in the line-up. Abantwana be Afrika was dedicated to the children of Africa and the late saxophonist Duke Makasi from Orlando.
Makasi was a tenor saxophonist in the seminal Eastern Cape jazz band, ‘Spirits Rejoice'. Robbie Jansen made a move from Cape Town to join that band and play with Makasi. Jansen and Makasi were soulmates. I didn't know Makasi, but I know Jansen. These musicians are bright eyed guys, survivors and ever youthful.
The day Mankunku died at the age of 66 was an epic day. On that moody afternoon in 2010, we had a tremendous storm in eThekwini. This storm had been brewing all day. When I reached the Stable Arts theatre, there was a certain edge, described by Thabang's whimsical but oh so relevant comment, “The music industry will take you and break you like a matchstick.”
With the storm came a release. Pipes started bursting all of eThekwini due to the release of pressure.
This storm marked the day of the passing of Winston Mankunku Ngozi. Mankunku Ngozi was a true father of South African jazz music. Whether with his own band, Winston could turn on the music with the ease of turning on a tap. And thus when Winston turned to spirit, I like to think that he took the memory of exploitation with him.
I regarded the release of that pressure as a release of the tremendous suffering the music industry has inflicted on its most prominent musicians. Mankunku was a very prolific composer and performer.
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Hidden Records / Stolen Moments : Review of some of Mankunku's 60's recordings …
Within in one year of Mankunku's death it was announced online that a collector had 60 hours of recorded material from the early 1960's that included the music making of the young giant Mankunku on saxophone at the age of 22. I was so enthusiastic that I listened reviewed and shared this music wildly bemoaning the fact that it had taken 46 years for this music to be released.
Mankunku is indeed a saint, he knows how to bring the audience and fellow musicians into the moment with his incredibly vast musical language. Mankunku had the ability to transform human emotions through music. He was an alchemist. Winston Mankunku Ngozi grew up as a talented pianist. By aged 22 he was playing and recording regularly in Cape Town as a saxophonist. These years were 1964 to 1967. His vast musical language was work-shopped and developed extensively over these few years where he collaborated abundantly with other musicians (white and black.) His spiritual jazz teacher was Coltrane, who taught him through recordings and an unspoken spiritual connection that was honored in the composition Yakhal 'Inkomo.
Winston Mankunku Ngozi is also known as the raging bull in South Africa. He is the man who embodied his expression not only for himself but for the African people of South Africa and the world. Winston Mankunku Ngozi was a world class musician. It is very indicative that the full recognition of his contribution to the massive art form of African jazz is only being fully appreciated some years after his death. This we now know is often the journey of the great South African jazz musician. They do not seek nor find glory within the boundaries of their own earth life, however use that time instead for emotional alchemy and service to fellow mankind ... and that is the embodiment and healing of the pain and suffering of their fellow human beings. As that is the life essence of the spiritualist, so too is this the voyage of a great musician. Winston Mankunku Ngozi was a great artist.
Mankunku also learnt much from his contemporaries through collaborations with the all star Cape jazz quartet. This featured Winston Mankunku Ngozi on saxophone, Chris Schilder (later to become Ebrahim Khalil Shihab) on piano, Midge Pike on bass and Selwyn Lissack on drums. The music was prolific, free and profound. Merton Barrow was also a regular visit to this quartet either standing in for piano on the vibes or adding fifth element to make a quintet. n these years Mankunku also played with veteran Cups n Saucers and developed a lot of music alongside Morris Goldberg.
This Cape Jazz Quartet is a very effective musical line-up that highlights these four musicians as an all star band to march past the contribution of the Blue Notes and further the contribution of the Jazz Epistles to stand alongside the contribution of the “Perfect” Jazz Quartet in America which featured Monk, Coltrane and Davis et al. At any time these musicians can move the sound into a new direction. At times it is still the cat and mouse kind of jazz where the musicians are pushing one another on their instruments to find new ways of expressing themselves, however the theme of their daily lives in Cape Town remains constant allowing for this live session to embody the sound of a unique Cape quartet of musicians who never had a catchy name for their band, but were all stars in their own right.
Between1965 - 1967 these musicians hold down a regular session at the Art Centre et al in Cape Town. These sessions were recorded live by a map maker and amateur photographer called Ian Huntley. They were never released. Shortly after Mankunku's death, Huntley handed the tapes over to an environmentalist called Chris Albertyn. The tapes were part of Huntley's complete record collection which were purchased for a good price. The music was presented online in a largely unidentified archive and made available for free.
This is music that mirrors life. There is a certain tragedy of life that we can only stomach with the beauty of music. This is why jazz music remains. Sometimes when Mankunku jumps upon a solo, it has the Coltrane or Pharaoh Saunders sound of Stolen Moments that shatters into silence. Stolen Moments, Indeed .. Where did they go, why did they go, who took them and under whose command? A stolen moment that certainly existed. On a spirit of determination the musicians laid their intention to take back what was rightfully theirs. The sheer enthusiasm of the saxophone MANN suggested a happy ending. He was self-reliant and very few saw it. 'When I take control of my destiny, everything turns out better.' The way the wind blows has an effect on the outcome. STAND FIRM IN YOUR TRUTH ... The musicians have spoken through time and space into the present moment where pretences are dropped and truth subjugates the world.
Through suppressing this musician in his lifetime, apartheid did a good job in disconnecting future generations from the memory of who we are as unlimited human beings (people with an unbridled potential waiting to be realised). This suppression reflected on South African society as a whole. In some respects we had to wait for Madiba to unite our tribal people before the music of our inxiles had the space to heal and unite our creative and expressive people. Now we are ready to know who we really are. These musicians and their musical greatness is an authentic presentation of a warrior generation and the fruits of their labour. Freedom comes with a shockwave of opponents. Political fascism in apartheid South Africa was exchanged for economic fascism in democratic South Africa and therefore any attempt to unite mankind with a knowledge of their highest capabilities and highest selves is so often met with contempt from those with the money to suppress it. Even to this day! Yet these musicians made it through. It is time at last to let the music speak for itself! These words run alongside the music as a commentary. It is the writers direct intention that the genius of these years is exposed to the public for the benefit of the longevity of this music form ... LOVE TO ALL ...
The following selection was identified and put forward … The birth of a Cape Sonic !
HOMELAND IMBIZO : Mankunku Meets Schilder (Archived as Tape 29 Troubadour)
On an August evening in 1966, At the Troubadour, The Cape Jazz Quartet perform under a slightly new section. Selwyn and Midge are out. Bob and Maurice get a run for a change.
These guys go free and original all the way. An epic set of untitled music that entrenches the duo of Schilder and Mankunku as unbelievably original and entrenches the Cape as a jazz capital where there is never a shortage of musicians to full the empty chairs. Maurice and Bob do an outstanding job on drums and bass, understated but solid creating the space for the virtuosos to shine. None of the four songs have been titled but I think the Homelands Imbizo, will do.
Opening track : RURAL JAM
On the opening track, Schilder gives a few Schilderological impressions then sets up a simple non directionless vamp and Mankunku sounds his horn looking into a series of patterns up the register before he settles on a tone and enigmatic rasp to play around. This is the sound of the 60's for a minute but before it can be identified Mankunku's playing walks into a new phraseology. Schilder is holding space with the vamp. Mankunku sets off again advancing further into the rubric of the sound , rolling his fingers poetically over the phrase and then launching into the blue note rock n roll jazz style. At first he keeps it soothing and melodic, quoting American standards and delightful phrases along the way, always searching for an original sound to mark the session and then at 6 minutes plus something starts to happen. Schilder leaves the vamp and starts to pus Mankunku into newer rhythmical patters and a Cape sound emerges. It is avant garde at times with a series of charging chromatics, piano and sax playing in constant conversation, the bass and drums silent at most times. And then at 8 minutes Mankunku is onto another melody another aspect of the drama of being Cape Tonian. Where is home? Drum and bass keep walking on. Mankunku and Schilder interplay in rolling turns and semi tonal rolls through small intervals of the section. This is in an untitled jam around the tone. And Mankunku falls on the melody. It is too quick to stick, the song moves through various phases and pattern, but the central theme of raucus and racing semi tonal turns is registered and recorded. I love it. The music sounds like animals as piano and sax dance over all the keys until piano takes charge after 9 minutes and steers the song into a march. Rural and urban, traditional and modern, fire and water, masculine and feminine, the one-ness of music. And Mankunku steps back, allowing the space for long solos from the rhythm section At the halfway mark, 11 minutes there is time for a Schilder solo where he is acute to rhythm but not adventurous as he plays a walking soundscape into open space before rising out in the same vamp he opened with keeping it alive and playing around it. Bass and drums are heard and take a distant solo. Schilder keeps them interested with their piercing interplays. Mankunku must be standing patiently by. Solos are nearing ten minutes. Even though drumming is inventive. Schilder comes back. He is on his schilderology tip before settling back into vamp, calling for the saxophone man, who obliges with a melody and then a ditty and a dance. At 21 minutes Schilder and Mankunku realise that there was no recognisable composition since the beginning and decide to play out with a glorious interplay of instrumental windmills. He keeps it simple but soulful. Epic stuff! It ends like a fairy go round winding down into nothing. Applause.
Second track : BULLS SOUND
The section put down a vamp, it is brooding, electric with the angst of possibility that existed at that time. Straight away off goes the bull, just playing through the changes as he always does, screeching and screaming at times, bopping and cool jazzing at others, holding every jazz idiom on his fingertips. The intensity of this song is so different to the previous one. It is a clear cut composition these musicians are playing, we call it Bull's sound, because that is in fact what it is. Schilder just can not help following the bulls extraordinary phrasing as he fingers out those semi tonal frolicking turns he loves so much on his keys in delayed response and then in a counter harmonic. There is nothing to stop the bull here, he is in full charge, soloing endlessly. He finishes the solo with a common theme, playing in both octaves. Audience applause at 6:30 brings Schilder in to take his solo. Drums and base are steady. Schilder is thoughful at first and then settles into the portrayal of his own deeply enigmatic sound rising into very impressive metaphors, falling out into a deeply spiritual refrain before vamping out of his solo searching for his musician friend on the saxophone. Mankunku lets the trio play out without him. The big bulls sound vamp is called forth from Schilder and Mankunku is onto it playing out the song with his transformative sound and the expressive melody amended with improvisations and invocations.
Third track. MOTHER CITY
Well composed. Mankunku's horn is sounding high. Has he picked up the alto or even soprano here? Deeply expressive he is, showing his ability to make musical messages around only a few notes at a time. Up and down and all around the same pitch, trilling and shaking and then landing a strong note. The sound of the soprano brings a sweetly generous sound to this song. Wistful and melodic, the gorgeous Cape waterfront as it was. Piano falls away and Mankunku starts to change the picture. The sound of the soprano roughens finding more adventurous phrases in the intervals and then same theme up a semi-tone. This phrasing we see throughout his career. As with all the compositions on this set, Mother City has many themes and impressions. Schilder is very understated. It is all Mankunku, all over it, a texture of tone, moving tone, manifesting tone. Rising up the register like a messenger to the queen bee. A constant flow of important ideas. At 7 minutes Schilder is pushing a trance vamp, sending Mankunku into a new headspace, more melodic. And then.! Then the big deep bellows and honk of a tug boat. Out of the blue before he is back to the native hue of the composition. Improvised music but still very smooth and melodic. At 9 minutes Mankunku breaks. Drum and bass hit a straight ahead path and Schilder bounces between with typical considered racing refrains. Near on 18 minutes, Schilder starts vamping to welcome back the horn-man to close out this improvised piece with some classic intervals, bluesy phrases and sweet talking and a collective extended close.
Final Track : NIGHT IN CAPE TOWN
Schilder launches into a purely unaccompanied musing of extended interest. He picks up a melodic vamp right away and sticks to it, allowing the space to sit around the music. Drums pick up the pace, bass joins and then Mankunku gets into it. We say the style of his improvisational quality in formation clearly as Schilder pushes him into the big changes and then sits back for Mankunku to push forward, quoting on a big standard real quick but mainly playing his own sound: the constantly outflow of a bottled up expression. The quality of the sound is raunchy, edgy, powerful and coherent. And at ten minutes the record cuts out in mid Mankunku solo! This is a Night in Cape Town City ... melodic and raucous, unexpected yet sublime.
Evolution of a Cape Jazz Sound : Experiments and Improvisation ...
Midge stood at the centre of these recordings and invented a new language for jazz bass. The way he plays it like a cello or uses it for rhythm creates soundscapes that are imaginative and provocative. Selwyn makes his mark not only as an open minded drummer but also as the host for a number of rehearsal sessions and jams. He works together with Pike hand in glove. This is the great Cape Jazz quartet of the era, Schilder, Mankunku, Pike and Lissack. Where Mankunku was dashing and innovative throughout, Schilder was imaginative and sublime too. Mankunku and Schilder prove to us the power of their collaboration.
They were performing and recording on the weekend and then rehearsing during the weeks. Rehearsals would take place at Selwyn Lissack's place, be it his garage his home or his room. It was during these rehearsals that new musical ideas either emerged or were given playing time.
'The birth of 'Experiments with Nardis.' (Archived as Experiments at Selwyn's Room)
This is one of the late night rehearsal sessions. Completely free. One musical idea that these musicians dig on for nearly ninety minutes is developed from their playing of ‘Nardis.' The composition ground provided by 'Nardis' had a tremendous effect on the Cape Jazz sound. These compositions called 'Experiments with Nardis' provide a rich musical meeting point between jazz America and jazz South Africa, music made by racially united people. It is a compiled session that requires editing.
EXPERIMENTS WITH NARDIS TAKE ONE A brand new song is cut in at exactly 16:50 and ends at exactly 32:06
Schilder leads this track out with a rising and enigmatic piano sound that brings Mankunku in in soft and gentle tenor tones. Schilder leads him into the melody of Nardis! He tinkles and tickles and then expands into a typically Mankunkian melody that he so often plays alongside the rising Eastern standard called Nardis. Chris Schilder tickles the ivories with an imagination and sense of humour. It is light and uplifting. Mankunku joins. They are giving one another space and appreciation. At 15 minutes into the song Pike does some fantastic beat boxing for Mankunku to play the melody out.
EXPERIMENTS WITH NARDIS TAKE ONE TAKE TWO A brand new song is cut in at exactly 32:06 till end
Here Schilder and Mankunku get straight down to business playing the compositional theme together from start in unity. Pike and Lissack are strong in direction. Mankunku is set free, falling about the rhythm and the key in mature tones and textures. Schilder is ever present, provoking and following where required, playing his enigmatic trills and turns, inspiring the others, particularly Mankunku who goes out on a solo limb of extraordinary confidence before Schilder rejoins in with a dramatic entrance to a point of perfect harmony in the last minutes of the song when they dip perfectly into piano and sax playing together and play the head of their own composition, something that can be titled 'Experiments with Nardis'. It is a delicate tune. And something that these musicians would incorporate into their repertoire of standards.
EXPERIMENTS WITH NARDIS TAKE TWO TAKE ONE This track ends at 11:40 seconds
Chris Schilder and Winston Mankunku exchange ideas and opinions over their serious musical meeting ground, their own composition, Experiments with Nardis. They play the melody with aplomb like one take one take two. The rhythm duo of Pike and Lissack is understated and sublime but on top of things. Mankunku sets off with an extensive musical freedom, enjoying the Eastern sound, bopping with the section and standing out. Chris Schilder tests out his fingers with the busyness of an anthill, using that exasperating trill as a musical interplay that talks to percussion and melody at the same time. Mankunku leads the musicians back to the head of “Experiments on Nardis.” A musical idea that they can elaborate on all night long!
EXPERIMENTS WITH JOY This track starts at 12:00 minutes ends at 34 minutes.
They have a new idea and go straight through into a new sound. This is take two of the same theme. We hear an avant-garde musical expressionism lead so powerfully by Chris Schilder and then Mankunku jumps right onto it with a swirling lead on the alto saxophone. It is an original improvised tune they are playing, which is very interesting as piano and sax bounce off of each other. Fantastic modernity comes to a stop with the unlimited strength of this music chapter of fire and water, pure strength and power. There is a balance to this avant garde where the exasperating runs of musical lines are married with a gentle blowing of tender notes and occasional catchy phrases. The band consider it, entertain it and transcend it. Mankunku is moving through the sound in one of his most impressive appearances. These musicians are thriving. Chris Schilder gets the message and backs him up. Setting him free again. The musicians are playing on pure instinct. And this is Mankunku's chance to shine. They are all just backing him up letting him blow out, whatever it takes. Talkative he is indeed. All overhiu this theme like a blanket solo. A master virtuoso. Schilder takes the lead, playing those brooding phrases in and amongst Lissacks expressive cymbal work. Manknuku breaks into a somewhat melancholic and deeply wistful lament that finds its pace in one of the most delightful little rhythmical melodies at about 14 minutes in. Before he calls for calm and musical return on the song with his deeply expressive tone. And then he is up and running again right on the super fast lines he started with. Schilder can't believe it. He is impressed and backs up the saxman to the hilt. So much so that he falls off the boil again. Schilder brings him back, these lads are playing. Mankunku shares an anthem for all to hear. Dignified and glorified it sounds. And then as if an underground tube coming to surface Pike's bass solo comes in. It is soft in comparison. Mankunku follows his lead. This is fire and brimstone. The manifestation of anything it could be. The speed alone in these passages lead to an upbeat and excitable sound, described as 'experiments with joy.' They peak and flow again.
MUSICAL MOTIFS by the Cape Jazz Trio (Archived as Tape 32 Selwyn's Room)
Mankunku’s song (2:51)
Off the cuff Mankunku is in song and in solo and he takes the opportunity to set down another original composition. This is an early expression of his. It is playful, joyful and languid. It is Cape Town and it is a fore runner of that typical Mankunku sound that eventually got set down with his recordings made with Mike Perry and in particular Molo Africa in 2000. Bass playing a stirring role in this and drums. It is only the three musicians. Great composition. The sound of Cape Town is evident. This is early Cape saxophone jazz with a little goema jive beat in the background and a nagging loving saxophone line that fades away to a good end. The sheer enthusiasm of the saxophone begins to suggest a happy ending through self-reliance. 'When I take control of my destiny, everything turns out better.'
Mankunku solo (2:04)
A completely solo performance on saxophone that is complete with many ideas and expressive textures showcasing the imagination of this musician. As Mankunku played Pike and Lissack stood by listening.
The session moves through musical passes that include the phenomenal Lissack Pike connection on track 4
Ekhaya (Mankunku) 5:44
Once more drifting from the collective sound we hear Mankunku's motif. It is something out of a detective film, bluesy to the beat. Mankunku's horn is rising and falling in a melody that is purely transcendental. These musicians are playing the situation, advanced emotions come through. Tragedy and madness is visible. Mankunku kicks out a little. He's a young man and the world most certainly is and should always be his oyster, yet of course it was not. Thus the frustration.
Mankunku plays the motif for the set throughout. It is like a soundtrack ... like Davis put out the 40 second motif for his french jazz film … It's a jazz soundtrack, of mystery, seduction and intrigue. The Mankunku solo that follows the over-arching motif stands along the dark brown sound of the bass in an expressive flow of 'letting go.' Mankunku jumps upon a solo which has the Coltrane Pharaoh Saunders sound of Stolen moments that shatters into silence.
Mankunku Lissack go forth 2:31
Mankunku and Lissack go forth into unmanned territory. We hear very excitable saxophone playing married with adventurous drumming. They are rushing forth. A very lyrical and verbal piece, Mankunku has a lot to say and is up and down his keys in chromatics and intervals and a whole lot of verbage that tailors out when done perfectly. Mankunku's soloing is very adventurous and he explores a number of themes with a certain light heartedness sometimes going around in circles in a way that is much faster than the mind. And then he's playing the intervals. Fast and suggestive. Neither avant-garde nor lyrical but a soundscape for Lissack to entertain.
Pike is ever-present. He then plays solo and leads with his reflective, thoughtful minor tone that reflects a certain Cape mountain mystique. Pike captures the mood and the scenery with a sublime mastery that closes out this solo as effortlessly as it began ,
Mankunku Lissack takes charge 1:32
Mankunku and Lissack take charge again and honk up a hectic scene. Mankunku is certain flavouring his playing with an emotional motif that is multiple expressive and avant garde. “We are taking our power back?” would be a rough translation.
Pike Mankunku blues 2:20
Finally Pike and Mankunku play blues. Pike sets the tone with an easy riding blues motif that passes between sax and bass. This is a strong composition. Mo better blues styles. We hear the piano singing to life in the background, but very understated, very subtle. Barrow is showing his way of playing right in the background and letting the others get it all out. But he adds the fine dining sound with his neat playing, showing where life goes in the madness of society. 60's style, two different realities are co - existing. This is the lackadaisical blues. Mankunku is certain flavouring his playing with an emotional motif that takes up into the multiple expressive and avant garde. We are taking our power back?
Mankunku Lissack entertain (1:32)
Mankunku and Lissack are honking up a hectic scene. Mankunku is set free to work his magic. The sounds of Mankunku's horn are something out of a rural setting with animals honking in unison, communicating. Lissack is steady on the drum
Mankunku Schilder at Selwyn's Studio (Archived as Tape 38 Selwyn's Room)
Ngozi's lament (Mankunku / Schilder) (2:07)
Mankunku joins the set right at the end to put down a classic composition: Ngozi's lament ... Winston Ngozi plays the lament with Schilder. The other musicians give space. It is the duo that gets this down. Mankunku's sound is heard and a lovely melody is played in typical Winston Mankunku Ngozi lyricism. It is a powerful ditty. And Chris Schilder strokes the keys alongside it. Mankunku stays on his line. No bass or drums are played.
CAPE CALLING : The Cape Jazz Quartet live at the Art Centre. (Archived as Tape 41 Art Centre)
On one particularly night in little under an hour these musicians had the freedom to be themselves.
JUJU BY WAYNE SHORTER(11:19)
Juju has a deep and distinguished musical flavour that is captured artfully by this collrection of musicians. Mankunku is relishing in the texture of the sound as he lets loose with long and illustrious flourishing solos. The band is steady as he keeps playing right through the changes. The Lissack solo is fresh and fabulous as he works his kit like a true artist. The audience appreciate, Schilder is quick on the vamp and Mankunku is back in on the melody, his tone is gorgeous.
EXPERIMENTS WITH NARDIS (11:19)
When they began to feel the audience was going deep that night they played their group hymn “Experiments with Nardis.” Mankunku's contribution is understated for once. He leaves the space for Schilder, Lissack and Pike to get it down. When he stands up he is talking in many ways with a rasping and ready attack. His solo is extended and magnificent at times as Schilder scurries in and amongst his sterling sound. Mankunku suddenly braces the blues and feels the pain and the musicians quieten down to a standstill and let him play out into a rousing climax and back to the blues and more. A bebop sensibility. Schilder plays Old Macdonald had a farm in and amongst his continual phraseology. Pike takes a solo. And then Mankunku comes back at the end as usual with the heads of this very interesting and effective composition. This is their most impressive and well prepared version of this song to date and the audience applause is receptive of that and appreciative of the role these musicians have played in staying free in almost impossible circumstances.
CAPE CALLING CARNIVAL SHOWCASE (11:19)
The musicians are unleashed into an unbridled originality and showcase of Free Cape Jazz as it was back at home. They are at the top of their game this session.
The piano starts with the sound of the windscreen wipers in the typical Cape winter. A melody finds its way through another of Schilder's enigmatic moods. Mankunku is always on it and relishes the whimsical approach of this new tune sending out some sprightly sounds on his alto saxophone. Schilder and Mankunku play through some interesting sequences which present some fascinating musical ideas that walk, march, step and avail themselves to all the many possible moods of a multi-cultural Cape jazz expressioni. They weave a musical magic around the desire for freedom. At times we hear some very unusual sounds, the sort of extra sensory perceptions that mark Pike's unique approach to bass playing are heard as he takes once more to the bow, to weave out the tension of this interesting song, for Schilder to dive right into like a horse to water. Mankunku is moaning melancholic for a moment then he is back up on down the scales for Schilder to meet with, match and dance around. Pike is back with an extended solo that every jazz bass solo should listen to. This is 1960 something and this bass player is creating a musical tapestry of sound that is largely unrivaled to this very day. Mankunku returns to the music tapestry. He is on the outskirts of the carnival. And then he is right inside. A carnival of rocket scientists it appears as the musicians keep pace with real space. We even hear Frero Jacques as Mankunku calls for calm. Schilder responds with his darting breaks positioned out of time and then they are off to some kind of a jazz gypsy carnival they way they dance and prance together in a rural Cape way. Joyous bright and beloved. This is a very experimental musical set for the live audience. They must have been being rocked of their chairs. And the song is not even half way through. It breaks down into a soft reflection and then Schilder is back with his brief and bright musical calls. Allowing the song to play out with the carnivelesque showcase. Pike takes the sound home.
CAPE CALLING FARMYARD (Schilder / Mankunku / Pike / Lissack) (5:24)
These musicians have symbolically broken the shackle holds and now stand together as four giants. There are no cops in sight. They are going free. Schilder and the trio set off as usual in this improvised set
CAPE CALLING MAIN STREETS(Schilder / Mankunku / Pike / Lissack) (11:58)
They move into a new direction. It is still the cat and mouse kind of jazz where the musicians are pushing one another on their instruments to find new ways of expressing themselves, however the theme of their daily lives in Cape Town remains constant allowing for this quartet recording to embody more than before the sound of and their environment. There is the carnival, the rural but now there is a super sensibility in the tones and textures. These players are in the present.
CAPE CALLING OUT (Schilder / Mankunku / Pike / Lissack) (7:40)
he audience has grown and by the penultimate track of the session the Art Centre is full, suggesting that some spectators arrived a little late. But, better late than never. Chris Schilder is on it again darting around these keys an in invigorated conversation with his fingers. Schilder sets off in a spacious solo calling on some attractive melodies and nuances. Before calling upon the other musicians with his thoughtful and provocative musical calls. The musicians do not join him. He keeps out alone. He has something in mind and an attractive melody is heard. It is very spacious. He begins his intensive trilling to create soundscapes linked with silence. At 4:40 he begins the vamp and Mankunku heads off into unchartered territories copying Schilders bouncy vamp before adding long tones of his own. Drum and bass are standing by and only accompanying in brief spells. The musicians find a gentle path. And then sax and piano take a dance together. Drums want in. Mankunku is out alone. And that is where it ends.
The Cape Jazz Quartet play original music at Selwyn's Garage Studio (Archived as Tape 50 Selwyn's Room)
On a free day in 1966 the musicians are back onto the avant- garde sound of Cape Town.
Experiments with Nardis (From Track 3) ends at (15:20)
Schilder leads off on “Experiments with Nardis” After a few minutes Mankunku, Pike Lissak and Schilder get back onto one of their favourite compositional and improvisational grounds. Mankunku comes up playing the melody over and over until he is comfortable. Schilder and Pike create a wonderful line and interaction throughout this composition to create space for the horn. Schilder and Mankunku play off of each other and Pike keeps on walking the bass. Lissack steady in the background. And then Schilder rises out on his own playing himself into musical metaphors and vibrations that are translucent. There is probably nothing that can follow this passage of pure inventiveness so much so that at 12 minutes this track almost falls into silence until some innovated percussion playing and beat boxing and scratching on the bass from Pike brings his characteristic futurism to the collective sound. He keeps Schilder strong to pounce and trill in the foreground. And at 14 minutes Experiments with Nardis is up and running again. Mankunku resolute as ever comes in on the head of the song. He is beginning to feel it. He is very strong on the melody this take. He is leaving the improvisational space to the others. Pike's bass is the highlight here. Mankunku closes the song at 15 minutes.
Experiments with Nardis Full version (Mankunku / Schilder) starts at 15:20 Track 3 (10:35)
Tracked here as 3.5 : Experiments with Nardis take Two comes up. In this take, Schilder and Mankunku play immediately the head of the tune full version. Mankunku's sound is sonorous. The trio take charge with an upfront bebop rhythm. Schilder is leading with his riffs and runs and at the halfway mark we hear Mankunku come through with some improvisation, creating some fascinating passages of bubbling piano sax meetings towards the end of this track. This music is quite a mind-field! And at times the wail on Mankunku's horn particular right at the end when he has the mike all to his own is enigmatic of the kind of bottled up expression that lead to his nickname of ‘Raging Bull!' Mankunku lets his sax do the speaking and plays out the take largely unaccompanied before rejoining again with the band for the head.
Experiments with Nardis take three (Mankunku / Schilder) starts at 15:20 Track 3 (10:35)
On Track 4 it is Experiments with Nardis take Three. After the head the song commences with a sterling and inventive Schilder introduction, that calls back the sound of the horn after 5 minutes. Mankunku sings out in a mood all of his own, experimenting from the start, scatting and stretching his stuff all over the take. Bass and drums are standing steady. This composition gets better and better on this session. Mankunku's soloing is furious expressive, Pike just backing him up and Schilder holding back and then stepping in to add brief musical adventures to the over all palate and then to take the sound back to his rapid ostinato trills that Pike follows with his neat walk and Lissacks cymbal playing is wildly poetic. The Mankunku Schilder musical exchange presents pure fire and brimstone bringing forth music that is nothing more than pure imaginative expression. Outstanding as we hear the great range of the playing and the enigmatic moans of the Mankunku tone. The fast and racing phrases, the warning calls, the erratic changes in direction and the serious sound. Schilders classical solo approach leads to Mankunku climbing an Eastern scale and settling back into a jazzy and then Cape Tonian style before walking right out onto the multiple expressive talking in tongue style of this great saxman. The emotions portrayed are purely mountainous.
CAPE RESONANCE Track 5 (Mankunku / Schilder) (12:56)
Track 5 sets a bebop tone with Pike's quick walk and Lissacks cymbal work. Mankunku is set free to render a sound which is like a vast volume of air being painfully released from a very tiny hole. He is on the alto or soprano this time scratching sublimely in the high register. The band step back and listen. It is wild. Schilder rolls on the keys as Mankunku screams high and then races over the keys. He is playing all over the highest register in an Eastern refrain that crashes down in alignment with the piano before leaving him and marching straight back up into expressive moans in the highest register. A lovely melody arises and the call goes forth. Improvised music of the highest quality. Outrageous in fact! And then another beautifully timed melody combining with a joint rasp. Pitty about the recording quality at times as we shoot out of focus. But thank goodness we can hear this. Slowly the air is released from the metaphorical pressurised chamber and Mankunku is getting free-er and free-er, the weight is falling off his shoulders as effortlessly as his fingers on the keys. And then he stands up and renders an anthemic lament of the sweetest joy, but never forgetting where it has come from. The four musicians sense of one another is extraordinary as their use of musical dynamics is profound.
CAPE TOWN DITTY Track 6 (Mankunku / Schilder) (9:04)
On track 6 after an avant garde start off, Mankunku gets into some pure jazz as he scats up the scale in perfect timing and then falls back down in a beautiful blues style of many eras. It lasts for a minute but Mankunku has a lot to say racing all over the keys inspiring Schilder to follow him and then back off for a second and then jump back on it. Schilder and Lissack rise and fall as waves of emotions plough their way through this song showing the truth in expression and the schizophrenic nature of a child of God in hell. He is always hiding his true self for fear of disappointment. Thank goodness for this appointment. Mankunku lets it out. Taking moments to display his magic and then playing cat and mouse again with the other musicians before stepping right back for the Pike solo to bring sobriety to a racy and relentless take, but only a momentary sobriety. Mankunku his a lot to say today. Mankunku has a melody in mind. The musicians play a great SA jazz requiem of 1966. They have been challenged and discriminated against, yet is not over and that is when Mankunku's never die spirit is shown in a beautiful whirling whimsical melody. This song is jam packed with racing chromatics and splendid phraseology that even Schilder needs to admire before the whole band reassemble for a cataclysmic ending.
FROM THE ART CENTRE SERIES :
The Art Centre was a public venue on the Green Point common Cape Town. Today there is a Macdonalds in the venue! At one point it was a place for many youngsters to witness jazz music of the highest quality. Many young musicians were inspired. The Art Centre series was subject at the time to police interrogation attempting to insure that white and black do not play together.
Track 3 : ST MANKUNKU'S
Pike sets things straight on the next tune getting the ball rolling in a bebop style creating the space for true expression. It is just the trio. This tune is not the jazz standard St Thomas's at all. Pike and Mankunku's great musical friendship is evidence as they create a real saxophonists and bassists tune, Pike Mankunku as I like to call it. Mankunku is all over the straight ahead jazz style of the rhythm section, improvising at will in a bebop way, strutting alongside Midge Pike's tremendous walk on the bass. Pike's solo is all over the bebop walk with a menacing ease, his vocab alongside Selwyn Lissack who is playing all out on the cymbals creating a texture for a quick and satisfactory closing to a purely improvised song, showing how Pike could set a bass down and Mankunku could take it from there.
Track 4 : THE DRIVE
Pike leads out the song, playing purely improvised, calling Mankunku forth to release himself. As always he obliges. Delicate and pensive, from the outset this song captures Ngozi's inner thoughts. The trio is leading. Merton is trying to keep up in the background but sounds half a beat behind. Mankunku plays over and above a driving rhythm section with quite some purpose that takes the music into the space of improvised music. The tenor saxophone is wild and controlled.He shoots out into free flowing free form and NGOZI's song is recognised and confirmed by the audience applause at only 4 minutes into the song. The music is unique. Pike leads Merton back into the fray as he follows the theme on vibes with an improvised solo, holding closely to silence then onto scales and finally intervals. Pike is at his side all the way making sure that the song does not go extinct. Eventually the rhythm section settle into a monotonous soundscape that only Pike can emerge from as he brings into being the typical Midge Pike sound: an aeronautical extra spiritual bassline that proves that the bull is amongst fellow bulls. The sterling Africanised drum work of Lissack is a pleasure as he settles into an extended and largely unconstrained solo that is well considered to timber. Of course at 12 minutes into this astounding tune, the band falls away and the young man Ngozi himself takes to the song and plays out a hymn of musical texture that steps in and out of the pace and the place, in an anthemic ending. The audience stamp the song with their cheers, marking a moment of sublime authenticity. This I have called The drive.
The recording quality is good, Schilder is missed. The vibes are an additional extra but not at all central to the theme. When true music is played as on St Mankunku's and The Drive it is just the trio. Other tracks rendered include a perky version of Well You Needn't. Mankunku is up with an alto saxophone. Neat and flexible is this song. Good background music with Merton neat on the vibes and Midge top on the bass. His solo in the fifth minute begins to break the set into a more adventurous mold. Mankunku's tone is definitely frisky. Of the standards:
Track 2 : Summertime
Even within the confines of this high profile public space, Mankunku is set free. His musical intentions are right upfront with a bebop inspired version of Summertime. This is smoking! Merton Barrow is coming in the background with the vibes in a blue note style, but the young lion is a bull! He is all over the melody and the rhythm filling in the spaces with rasping series of rises falls and bebop phrases. At 2 minutes the pace drops out considerably for the Barrow solo. The ever patient Mankunku sits out for a minute as the song falls in and out of focus before a busy Pike solo and the inevitable Mankunku to close out with somewhat competing sounds from the constant Barrow vibes. Mankunku's tone is enigmatic of the times, he is done with that song.
And some fantastic songs...
MANKUNKU AND THE CAPE JAZZ QUARTET (Archived as Art Centre Tape 31)
On 20th August 1966 Morris Goldberg joins up with the quartet to create The Cape Jazz Quintet who take to the Art Centre for a brief and breezy set. They play two songs of 18 plus minutes Ole and Poor. Mankunku is shining on the Alto saxophone. Morris Goldberg is playing a minor role on tenor.
The unusually titled composition 'Poor' is abundant with unaccompanied improvisation from the saxophones together. The song commences with alto saxophone played very freely. He's out alone playing from his mind in the way that only he knows. You will never hear it like this again. It is a unique wail. It is the harmful vision of poverty. Poor people in a rich world. Mankunku's playing is resolute. He is the witness and the priest of change. At four minutes Goldberg joins in playing single tones before backing up the Mankunku rasps and runs with his best responses to the Mankunku call. When the band fall to near silence again, the harmony of the instruments is heard. Mankunku's tone is clean as he calls out and Goldberg follows harmonically and broodingly on the blues riffs they exchange. The audience is alive and attentive, certainly tapping their feet. Mankunku is the young giants setting himself free showing all his endless imagination backed by the hottest rhythm section around. And Goldberg is revelling on the theme. His tenor saxophone is learning a lot from Mankunku and is taking shape live on this song and the audience appreciate it. This is a live jazz workshop. Mankunku is the teacher. Schilder keeps the place. The track falls away into bass solo at 12 minutes: meditative and astute to sound. Piano broods seductively as Pike's unusual musical language of another kind sings out. The audience applauds appreciatively as the band rises up again playing brood-fully with short wistful blues style phrases.
On Ole; the band rises out of a fascinating blend of sound. Pike is at his cello with the stick as he is want to do creating a provocative rhythmical and vibrational interplay. Pike creates the space for the audience to relax into the splendor of the sound journey he creates. Overtones spring out from the musical morass like water splashing off of leaves. And Pike is creating all this sound ! Overtones begin to sound and the other musicians instruments start to sound in a sympathetic resonance. A deeply traditional Xhosa uhadi sound is evoked by his bass playing. This is a sterling introduction. When we first hear a horn it is soft and soft screeching like air rushing out of a balloon or an ancient space language perhaps. Bass falls to silence. Audience is applauding strongly.
Schilder strikes the piano reminding us it too has strings and then the band vamp as one to the take 5 style and the audiences delight. They are not going to play take 5 though. Goldberg is in a minor mood on tenor saxophone and playing a minor role. He is not strong. The rhythm section have transformed the Take 5 vamp into an anonymous jazz vamp that Schilder leads through some changes. Mankunku stands aloft with his alto solo. He is in a minor mode again but so fresh. Goldberg trills, turns and thrills all over the minor mode. This is his shining hour! Smooth! Or perhaps this is Mankunku on alto, sounds like it in the way he sings through the throat and revels in the sweltering heat of a Coltrane standard. The audience applause is well deserved and highly formal. Schilder is crashing the chords. He takes a powerful solo that rises and falls out of the vamp in honks and tonks of power house blues. Pike likes that and picks up his playing, playing along with the driving melody lines. Lissack steps up and pushes more emphasis out of the section and Pike enters his realm of dancing whispering musical innuendos evoking vast overtones of imaginary sound. Schilder drops the volume to a pianissimo for Pike to play out a classic Cape vibrato. Schilder is back on the vamp and the audience are clapping every solo with the joyful abandonment of people tapping their feet to the beat. Mankunku is first to state the closing phrases. It is Mankunku on alto. He is out a lone letting the notes fall of his fingers. Goldberg is at his side sending out long notes on the tenor as Mankunku trills in rapid succession, an impressive mono syllabic rasp of expression showcasing this musicians stunning use of rapid trills to create a musical sense. A top track! A good largely improvised version of Coltrane's Ole and the song measures 8 seconds longer than Coltrane's original recording!
Merton Barrow appears on vibes making this a quintet performance. The musicians do it again on a couple of the tracks.
They open the set with Mankunku's lament. These were the Inxiles. They were at home in a sense. So we can hear a great depth of expression to this song in its cool free style. Home we say is where the angels sing. There is nothing worth running from. Despite a certain faintness in their sound, a typical African jazz call and response adds power to this very interesting composition. Moody indeed, but masculine and feminine, twin flames.
Pike begins with the typical Pike sound on the bowed bass which sounds like a meeting of the industrial age and the age of humanity before a new sound rises out of that morass of musical vibration like a line of pure light. Ngozi's triumphant saxophone rises out of the landscape like an angel from the smoke of a fallen race. His sound is supported by the transcendental shape of Schilders melodies. They transform this avant garde soundscape into a classic little jazz tune, an original that I like to call 'Cape Squeeze'! The melody is sung over by the saxophone. It is catchy and can become another SA Jazz standard born of this great collection of 'dusty' recordings. Merton squeezes into the sound changing the style into something specifically bluesy. A momentary lapse into the sublime yet ordinary. And then Mankunku and Schilder take the song to a new and very catchy interplay then refrain before Lissack plays out an inventive and intuitive drum solo. Mankunku is back on the solo. Barrow is off. He plays only a few notes then stops. And Mankunku takes the song home in rasping calls for freedom from restraint and politeness. Pike is with him completely on that. And Schilder follows.
The Cape Jazz Quintet's enigmatic original, ‘Cape Sound' is as catchy as anything. The pianist picks up on the melody. It is a uniting anthem. A great composition and you can see how Schilder just loves it when Mankunku goes off his head making that saxophone buzz and vibrate in all lovely textures and carnivelesque ways.
THE CAPE JAZZ QUINTET live at the Art Centre (Archived as Art Centre Tape 40)
The Cape Jazz Quintet (with Merton on vibes and Maurice standing in for Selwyn on drums) play standards, some of which are improvised to a point of originality. A compromised set this was with one original. Robert Sithole makes the guest appearance on Penny Whistle and Flute.
BULLS TUNE FOR TRANE
There is an original sound here featured on a striking composition. We call it Bull's Tune for Trane. Bulls tune is indeed resonant with the musical influence that Coltrane has born upon the raging bull, but it is completely original. The saxophonist here has a clear musical identity and approach of his own that bursts with an enthusiasm and light that can be mistaken for no-one but Mankunku himself. He is on fire playing with an ease that matches his youth of the time. The spontaneous audience applause at five minutes into the song also calls to light the individuality of this work and brings Merton Barrow into the fray on the vibes, once again competing with the sound and adding sweetener to the vivid array of true musical language.
Robert Sithole joins the musicians as a guest. To jam with jazz musicians on the penny whistle is not an easy task. Sithole is highly acclaimed. The audience appreciate his efforts with a warm applause that all but brings the song to a close. But if it is really Mankunku's tune, he better claim it as his. Schilder steps up next to take to the keys to vamp and solo at the same time. Maurice is strong in the background and we reach an impasse in this tune. Schilder plays with a newer darker direction and then arrives the bull to take his song home. These cats are so professional it is incredible. Right on time. As slick as you like. His playing is big strong and rousing, the very artistry that marks the musical equality of the Bull with his maestro, Trane.
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