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Radio 3 Guide to World Music
South Africa: Discography

This discography is from The Rough Guide to World Music (Volume 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East)

CD = recommended first buy
cd = compact disc
t = tape only
v = vinyl only

Search by artist:
| A - I | J - R | S - Z |


cd King Kong: Original Cast
(Gallo, South Africa)
The soundtrack of the seminal 1959 'jazz opera' starring Miriam Makeba and the Manhattan Brothers with Kippie Moeketsi and Hugh Masekela among others.

cd Sheer Jazz
(Sheer Sound, South Africa)
If you're curious about the current state of jazz in South Africa, this is a good place to start. A fine sampler of recent recordings - including some that perhaps stretch even the broadest definition of the genre - from the country's most adventurous independent label.

cd Township Swing Jazz Vols 1 & 2
(Gallo, South Africa)
A great introduction to the swinging marabi/African Jazz bands and vocalists of the 1950s and early '60s.

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African Jazz Pioneers
Bandleader and saxophonist Ntemi Piliso, who can boast a career in jazz going back to the 1940s, formed the African Jazz Pioneers in the 1980s. The band helps keep Marabi alive as a performance art by updating familiar melodies and harmonies with new arrangements and electric instrumentation.

cd Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival
(Gallo, South Africa; BMG, UK)
The 1991 version of the band captured live and in fine form.

The Blue Notes
One of South Africa's legendary progressive jazz bands, the Blue Notes were led by pianist Chris McGregor with Dudu Pukwana (alto sax), Nick Moyake (tenor sax), Mongezi Fezi (trumpet), Johnny Dyani (bass) and Louis Moholo (drums). The nucleus of the band would eventually reform as the Brotherhood of Breath.

cd Live In South Africa 1964
(Ogun, UK)
The Blue Notes captured live on the eve of their departure into exile in the UK.

Elite Swingsters with Dolly Rathebe
With a continuous history dating back to 1958, the Elites are South Africa's oldest African Jazz band but Dolly Rathebe's spectacular career as a singer, actress and pin-up girl started up almost a decade earlier.

cd Siya Gida
(Teal-Polygram, South Africa)
This album of hot studio renditions of old classics is typical of the Elite Swingsters' current live shows. Veteran singer Rathebe possesses the richest, most resonant mid-to-low-end vocal range in the business and she can still cook too!

Jonas Gwangwa
Gwangwa is a superb African Jazz trombonist and composer whose style falls somewhere between straight marabi and more modernist impulses.

cd Flowers of the Nation
(Gallo, South Africa)
Recorded in the UK just before Gwangwa's return to South Africa after years in exile, this is a contemporary mixture of jazz and South African influences.

Abdullah Ibrahim
Pianist Brand, who changed his name to Abdullah Ibrahim in the 1980s, is probably South Africa's most famous jazz name in international circles.

CD African Sun
Just one of a series of BMG South African jazz releases featuring Dollar Brand aka Abdullah Ibrahim. Here he plays together with a raft of other luminaries.

cd Blues for a Hip King
Dedicated to the cool monarch of Swaziland. Superb.

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Jazz Epistles
The Epistles were the late 1950s South African version of the US school of progressive jazz featuring the best local technicians of the period, pianist Dollar Brand (aka Abdullah Ibrahim), reedman Kippie Moeketsi, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa.

cd Verse One
(Gallo, South Africa)
The band's one and only recording, made before most of its members went into exile overseas, is now considered to be a South African classic.

Sibongile Khumalo
Khumalo is one of South Africa's most arresting new vocalists. She seamlessly matches her classical training and thoroughgoing knowledge of traditional Zulu song with a jazz sensibility.

cd Live At The Market Theatre
(Sony, South Africa)
This superb concert recording highlights Khumalo's talents with the sympathetic backing of some fine instrumentalists including saxophonist Khaya Mahlangu.

Miriam Makeba
South Africa's most famous musical export immersed herself in the vocal traditions of her people and then became a homegrown star by mixing them with African-American influences. Ironically, she was subsequently forced to spend the majority years of her career in exile bestowing her talents on the rest of the world.

cd Miriam Makeba & the Skylarks
(Teal-Polygram, South Africa)
A two-CD set of wonderful recordings from the 1950s aptly demonstrating the early blossoming of Makeba's talents in the company of her close harmony group, the Skylarks.

cd Sangoma
(Warner Brothers, US/UK)
A heartrendingly beautiful collection of traditional song, all sung a cappella.

CD Welela
(Phillips, US/UK)
Makeba's last great album - every track a gem, superbly backed, arranged and produced, and with Miriam singing at her magnificent best.

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Hugh Masekela
Next to Miriam Makeba and viewed from a commercial standpoint, trumpeter/vocalist Hugh Masekela enjoyed the greatest international acclaim (and also recorded the most albums) of any of South Africa's exiles.

cd Hope
(Triloka, US)
This live recording with a hot, young band made not long before his return to South Africa nicely fills the function of a greatest hits retrospective of Masekela's long and interesting career.

Dorothy Masuka
Zimbabwean-born Masuka was one of the three most popular African female vocalists (along with Dolly Rathebe and Miriam Makeba) of the fabled 1950s before the South African authorities threw her out of the country.

cd Hamba Notsokolo And Other Hits From The '50s
(Gallo, South Africa)
A collection of Masuka's prime - and long unavailable - Troubadour label recordings, extensively annotated.

cd Magumede
(CA-Polygram, South Africa)
Masuka's latest album is a little shy on running time but it nevertheless demonstrates that her legendary vocal abilities are undiminished while also reminding the listener that she has written some classic songs.

Chris McGregor and The Castle Lager Big Band
The winners of the 1963 Castle Lager Jazz Festival were brought together under this name for this one-off, all-star studio recording directed by pianist McGregor.

cd Jazz The African Sound
(Teal-Polygram, South Africa)
This album constitutes some of the most glorious moments in the history of South African jazz and is especially noteworthy for the solo contributions of Kippie Moeketsi who, in the opinion of many, was the country's single greatest jazz talent.

McCoy Mrubata
Mrubata is arguably the most commercially successful - and certainly one of the most multi-talented - of South Africa's new generation of jazz stars.

cd Tears Of Joy
(Sheer Sound, South Africa)
This all-instrumental-save-one-track album nicely showcases Mrubata's abilities as a leader-arranger, composer and sax soloist. The first tracks are nice but a little disappointing for sounding so international but the last half gets into a wonderful groove that could have only come out of South Africa.

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Jabu Nkosi
Keyboard player Jabu Nkosi, the son of Zacks Nkosi, has enjoyed a long career as an instrumentalist and composer in a number of the country's most famous jazz fusion bands and has also backed some of the biggest names, both foreign and homegrown, to grace South African stages.

cd Remembering Bra Zacks
(Gallo, South Africa)
On this fine album, saxophones and an occasional dash of the keyboards keep strong melodies at the forefront as Nkosi updates a number of his father's prime evergreens, mixing them with a few of his own recently composed numbers.

Zacks Nkosi
Zacks Nkosi, a bandleader, composer and saxophonist of the first order, was one of the most important figures during the Golden Age of African Jazz in the 1950s and '60s.

t Our Kind Of Jazz
(EMI, South Africa)
This is a re-issue of a mid-1960s LP which in turn had been compiled from recordings that originally appeared as 78s. It remains the only contemporary testimony to the existence of what was once the largest and greatest body of African Jazz recordings of the 1950s and '60s featuring not only Zacks himself but also the talents of Ellison Themba, Elijah Nkwanyane, and Michael Xaba.

cd A Tribute To Zacks Nkosi
(Gallo, South Africa)
cd Our Kind of Jazz (Gallo, South Africa). Valedictory albums recorded at the end of Zack Nkosi's long career in the 1970s.

Gideon Nxumalo
Pianist and composer Nxumalo was another outstanding South African jazz talent whose career stretched from the early 1950s through to the mid-'70s.

cd Jazz Fantasia
(Teal-Polygram, South Africa)
This recording taken from a 1962 concert featuring material that Nxumalo wrote especially for the occasion is also the only surviving example of sax maestros Kippie Moeketsi and Dudu Pukwana playing together. Fine stuff.

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