Hugh Masekela

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South African trumpet player Hugh Masekela, who had led the first jazz record of the African continent, Verse I (september 1959), with a sextet named the Jazz Epistles that featured pianist Dollar Brand, fused the South-African tradition of work and church songs (the South-African equivalent of the American blues and gospel) and Zulu mbaqanga rhythms with the structure of jazz and pop-jazz music. In 1959 he formed the Jazz Epistles with pianist Dollar Brand. He recorded in New York Trumpet Africaine (may 1963), still dominated by Makeba compositions, and Grrr (april 1965).

The same Tom Wilson who had invented folk-rock produced two of his live albums, The Americanization of Ooga-Booga (november 1965), mainly devoted to Makeba compositions, and The Lasting Impression (november 1965), with Masekela's Where Are You Going and Child Of The Earth accompanied only by piano, bass and drums, that focused on his own material. Next Album (august 1966) used a repertory of pop covers, but The Emancipation (1966) returned to his own songs. Latest (1967) was split between pop covers and his own songs. Masekela joined the hippy generation when he played on Byrds albums and at the Monterey Pop Festival. The Promise of a Future (march 1968), with the hit Grazing in the Grass, and especially Masekela (september 1968), almost all original material, capped his golden years. Reconstruction (1969), Home Is Where the Music Is (1972) I Am Not Afraid (1973), The Boy's Doin' It (1975), Technobush (1984), Waiting for the Rain (1985), Uptownship (1988), mostly lame covers, and countless collaborations led to the musical Sarafina (1987), mostly scored by Mbongeni Ngema.

In the 1990s, after returning to South Africa, Masekela released albums in a different, simpler, mood such as Beatin' Around De Bush (1992), on which he played only the flugelhorn, Hope (1993), that recycles old material for the new generation, Johannesburg (1995), Notes Of Life (1995), Black to the Future (1997), perhaps the best, Sixty (1999), Time (2003), Revival (2005), Phola (2009), his pop album (in which the trumpet is only an accident while the focus is on the vocals).

Rejoice documents a 2010 session with Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, Mutale Chashi and Tom Herbert (bass), Elliot Galvin and Joe Armon-Jones (keyboards), Lekan Babalola (percussion), Steve Williamson (the brother of Jay, on tenor sax) and Lewis Wright (vibraphone).

Hugh Masekela died in 2018.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Rodolfo Lunardi)

Hugh Masekela, trombettista, fuse la tradizione africana dei canti di lavoro e di chiesa

(l’equivalente del blues e gospel americani) e i ritmi degli Zulu Mbaganga con le

strutture musicali del jazz e del pop-jazz.

Incise a New York Trumpet Africaine (1963), dominato dalle composizioni di Miriam

Makeba, e Grrr (1965). Tom Wilson, l’inventore del folk-rock, produsse due suoi

live, The Americanization of Ooga-Booga (1965), dedicato ai pezzi di Makeba

e The Lasting Impression (1965) con le canzoni Where Are You Going e Child Of

The Earth, accompagnato da piano, basso e batteria, incentrato su materiale proprio.

Next Album (1966) conteneva un repertorio di covers pop, ma con The Emancipation

(1966) ci fu il ritorno alle composizioni proprie. Latest (1967) fu diviso fra covers pop

e materiale originale. Masekela entrò in contatto anche con la generazione hippy

suonando con i Byrds e al Monterey Pop Festival. The Promise of a Future (1968),

con il pezzo di successo Grazing in the Grass, e specialmente Masekela (1968), entrambi

con materiale quasi tutto originale, coronarono i suoi anni d’oro. Reconstruction (1969),

Home is Where the Music is (1972), I Am Not Afraid (1973), The Boy’s Doin’ It

(1975), Technobush (1984), Waiting for the Rain (1985), Uptownship (1988), in

maggioranza composti da covers poco incisive; da segnalare anche le innumerevoli

collaborazioni almusical orchestrato da Mbongemi Ngema Sarafina (1987).

Negli anni ’90, Masekela ha realizzato lavori in vari stili, anche banali, come Beatin’

Around De Bush (1992), Hope (1993), che ricicla vecchi pezzi per le nuove generazioni, Johannesburgh (1995),Notes Of Life (1995), Black to the Future (1997), forse il migliore,

Sixty (1999), Time (2003).

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