Genes and Spirits (BWSA079)
The second solo album from one of the world's most gifted young pianists, the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa. This is an audio CD that also contains video clips and information about Moses which is read from the CD-Rom drive of a home computer.
Genes & Spirits is an album of contrasting moods and textures, from the staccato phrasing of Down Rockey Street to the stark lyricism of Sogra (Mmatswale/Mamazola). Infused with 'ubuntu', the intensely spiritual quality of black community life, this album pays its respects to South Africa's jazz past - but it has its feet firmly on the road to the future.
Check Moses' interview on the making of this album.
All songs composed & arranged by Moses Taiwa Molelekwa except
Tembisa”, by Moses Molelekwa and Andrew Missingham
All songs produced by Moses
Molelekwa & Andrew Missingham
Africa”, produced by Moses & José Neto; Rapela produced by Moses
& Brice Wassy
All songs published by T.
mixed at: Rhino Studios Bophuthatswana, SA; Downtown Studios Gauteng SA; The
UK; Real World, Bath, UK; Brownhill Farm,
West Sussex, UK;
Livingstone Studios, London, UK.
Engineered by: Richard
Mitchell; Jasper; Richard Edwards; Pete Hoffman; Mark
Kearney; Chris Lewis; Peter Thwaites (Dance to
Assisted by: Neelam; Sie
Medway-Smith; Derek Fischer; Simon Burwell
Executive Producer: Robert
portion of this CD+ was designed by Mark
Allin @ Hypa Solutions: Photography by Peter Williams Sleeve Design
Taiwa’s Special Thanks:
The Lord Almighty for giving me the ability to create music. May His name
find glory and praise in my works.
My parents and
my sisters for their constant encouragement and belief in me. All the
engineers and musos who prepared the fire, flavoured stirred and mastered
the dish: “it’s
a delicious one”. Flora Purim,
Chucho Valdez, Brice Wassy (Pa-tshi-tshi), Jose Miguel, Khaya Mahlangu,
Dennis Rollins for adding their magical touch to the album. It was an honour
working with you. Russell Herman
for ensuring that everything inside and outside the studio was in order.
My best friend
and wife - Ndiyabulela Kwalo. This album is
dedicated to my son, Sityebi Kagiso; “Zöe”
Track Listing (30 Second Samples)
1. TSALA (4:56)
2. SPIRITS OF TEMBISA (4:59)
3. DOWN ROCKEY STREET (8:30)
4. ITUMELENG (5:41)
5. SOGRA (MMATSWALE/MAMAZOLA) (6:36)
6. GENES AND SPIRITS (4:21)
7. KWAZE KWANGCONO (6:01)
8. RAPELA (5:59)
9. DANCE TO AFRICA (5:17)
10. NTATEMOHOLO (4:37)
Quotes from Ian Nicolson:
24-year-old South African pianist Moses for example. He grew up in
Tembisa - a township near enough to Jo'burg to make the contrasts
painfully stark - listening to Parker, Miles and the fifties canon of
immortals on wickedly expensivevinyl passed around like scripture from
one believer to another. But all around him was the potent influence of
Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim, Kippie Moketsi and Dudu Pukwana, and
it's an updated version of their magical integration of late 20th
century African harmonies, melodies and rhythms into modern jazz that
Moses is after.
His second allbum for the "no boundaries" M.E.L.T. 2000
label - which specialises in modern music from Southern Africa - is a
delightful dip into a barrel filled with seductive influences. Moses has
layered Cuba (with celebrated Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes as mentor),
Brazil (Flora Plurim's unmistakeable vocalisations), the Cameroon
(funked up by Brice Wassy's infectious time-keeping), and even Bristol
(just a lickle drum'n'bass from somewhere...) over his own instinctive
township feels. The resultant blends are so cheering I think Taiwa's
left hand could probably heal the sick - or at least make them feel a
sight more chirpy. Heartily recommended.
Moses Taiwa Molelekwa:
Voice Of The New Generation
A child plays
in the dusty streets of Tembisa Township on Johannesburg’s East Rand. It is
1978. From one
doorway floats the scratchy sound of a Charlie Parker album. From
equally scratchy recording by alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi. And down
live, on a bare piece of open ground, the complex, multi-layered polyrhythmic
drumming of a
troupe of traditional Pedi musicians...
It’s from these three roots that Moses Taiwa Molelekwa’s unique jazz
piano has grown.
South Africa is
one of the few countries outside the USA where jazz has been a
popular music, and not the preserve of an elite. In the townships, American
jazz was (and
is) purchased at great expense; heard avidly; the solos dissected with skill.
also a unique South African jazz heritage, blending folk styles, modern
and big-band swing. In the marabi music of the 1940s and 1950s, three
chords and a
two or four-bar sequence carried a hypnotic, constantly changing melodic
music grew, enfolding and adapting influences from bebop, free jazz and
rock, and - in
a society of enforced migrancy between city and countryside - constantly
transfusions from a score of distinctive folk traditions. And it was dangerous
challenging the cultural categories and divisions of apartheid and the rules
which tried to
legislate settled black citizens out of existence. It has its heroes (like the
its exiles (Masekela, Makeba, Dollar Brand, Dudu Pukwana, Chris
more) and its own canon of standards - including many defiantly joyful
threw apartheid’s laws back in its own face.
heritage can be heard in Molelekwa’s complex, percussive left hand,
in fractured, staccato phrasing (‘Down Rockey Street’) and in the close-
structure of ‘Itumeleng’. It’s also there in the stark lyricism of ‘Sogra
with its folk-like simplicity of melodic line. South
Africa sings in
Molelekwa’s almost choral approach to instrumental arrangements,
and in his
densely-textured use of percussion.
more to South Africa than rhythms and harmonies, and more
to this album
than South Africa. The intensely spiritual quality of black community
- respect for the humanity of others) is sewn with
thread to its music. Apartheid’s project of de-humanisation created
tragedy and crisis in the townships. And Molelekwa, growing up in
the 1970s and 1980s,
was also marked by that crisis. He told a film-maker:
“There was so
much pressure, everyone had to find a way to let it out. The
my best friend into crime; I’m lucky, I can deal with it through
my music.” Those
emotions, too, are here: the warmth of friendship, the joy of
the regret for what has been lost.
The 1990s are a
time of movement and hope for South African jazz.
rediscovery of musics which were pushed underground or into exile,
like the free
jazzing of Brotherhood of Breath. And there’s a new process of
bridge-building to the sounds of the rest of Africa, to Asia and Latin
America and to
the clubs of Europe and America. That process resonates on
this album in
the collaborations with Chucho Valdez, (‘NtateMoholo’) and
Purim (‘Sogra (Mmatswale / Mamazola)’). It dances through the
and programmed drums of ‘Spirits of Tembisa’.
What makes this
work unique - and much more than the sum of its influences
own voice as a musician, his vision and his technique.
are the approaches of his South African collaborators, in the main
from his own generation. This album pays its respects to South
past- but it has its feet on the road to the future.
Gwen Ansell, Johannesburg