Let's keep the April sunshowers happening with a birthday post about a champion who passed away a few months ago, but who would have been 79 today.
There's very few members of the musical firmament of our lifetimes who, in addition to the transcendent artistic statement they make, could say that they played a vital role in the liberation of their homeland.
But beginning way back in the 1960s, he managed to forge a path as the central musical ambassador of South Africa, during that time as reviled a pariah state as any that then existed.
We all know the unmitigated evil that was the Apartheid regime. We all celebrate its demise, and glorify the architects of its dismantling, such as Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie, who herself just passed away less than 48 hours ago at age 81.
What we may not know is the central part in its removal played by its musical figures. A few weeks ago we did Sixto Rodriguez, who never even set foot in South Africa until his music -- without even intending to do so -- helped give strength to the activists trying to end the oppression.
Today we visit with the man who could be said to have done the most from within, having been born and grown up under the boot of the white Afrikaaners and their hatred.
It wasn't just him -- obviously folks like his ex-wife and musical partner Miriam Makeba were in no small way just as responsible -- but there can be no name more powerful in the modern history of South African music than Hugh Masekela, born this day in 1939.
So here on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us fire up a delicious, somehow-as-yet-unissued concert from a quarter century ago in Switzerland, that features both Hugh and Miriam in full flight, just as their lifetimes of labor were bearing their desired fruit and Apartheid was heaving its last breath.
Hugh Masekela & Miriam Makeba
Piazza Della Riforma
01 Umngoma/Abangoma (The Healers)
02 Ingwe Idla Ngamabala
03 Ha Le Se Li Khanna (The Dowry Song)
06 Pata Pata
07 I Still Long for You
09 Meet Me At the River
01 Market Place
02 Grazin` In the Grass/band introductions
03 Stimela (The Coal Song)
04 Ha Po Zamani
05 Soweto Blues
08 Mandela (Bring Him Back Home)
Total time: 1:54:30
Hugh Masekela - trumpet & vocals
Miriam Makeba - vocals & percussion
Themba Mkhize - keyboards, vocals & percussion
Ngenekhaya Mahlanghu – saxophone, flute, vocals & percussion
Lawrence Matshiza – guitar & vocals
Mandkla Zikala - bass & vocals
Kwazi Shange - drums & percussion
Zenzi Lee- vocals
Wings - vocals
1st generation soundboard reel
665 MB FLAC here
Nothing needs to be said about this gorgeous show, all you need to do is not think and click the link to understand. It functions as sonic proof that although prostate cancer may have claimed him in January, what he accomplished whilst here won't be quite as temporary as a human lifetime.
Beyond that truth, as far as the SQ I didn't have to modify the sonics of this one at all, seeing as how it came off the desk to a first-gen reel and is completely indistinguishable from an official live release.
I'll be back sooner than later with more flavor for your 'tater, but right now you should be dancing around your spot to this show, meant as it is to honor perhaps the most revered musician in the history of South Africa, Hugh Masekela!--J.
4.4.1939 - 2.23.2018