Vusi Khumalo - Follow your dreams
Afro - Pop

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Follow Your Dreams (BW093)

"I've always had this dream of recording an album with South African musicians playing alongside some of the best musicians in the world. I'm also telling my people that this country is unique, that musically, audiences haven't learnt to appreciate what they have available to them. In a way it's a plea to give South African musicians a chance."
"I was usually first in the studio while we were putting it together at Realworld in England. I'd arrive and start playing the chords of Song For The Gurus on the piano and as the guys arrived they would join in.
When the melody played itself out in my head, I would think of these musicians, who were some of the most educated musicians, and I'm not talking of school education, but being educated musically, these guys knew their music. Guys like Duke Makasi, I would imagine myself in their shoes, how they would handle certain things."
A jazz ballad, Song For The Gurus features the mature tenor saxophone of Khaya Mahlangu. The solo guitar is from a sparkling Lawrence Matshiza.

 

Track Listing (30 Second Samples) 

1. DUSK TO DAWN
COMPOSED BY VUSI KHUMALO (MAVUSANA/PEER MUSIC)
DUSK TO DAWN FEATURES A HYPNOTIC BASS LINE FROM BAKITHI KUMALO AND THE MUTED TRUMPET OF BYRON WALLEN. "THERE ARE SOME GREAT BASSISTS IN THE STATES AND IN EUROPE, BUT THIS ONE CALLED FOR BAKITHI'S BASS. IT IS A BASS THAT I GREW UP WITH. DUSK TO DAWN IS A TOWNSHIP SONG. IT TELLS OF OUR STRUGGLES TO SURVIVE AS YOUNG MEN AND AS MUSICIANS."

2. DUMAZILE
Composed by Vusi Khumalo & Max Mntambo (Mavusana/Peer Music)
"I wrote Dumazile with Max Mntambo. I went to Max because I wanted that ethnic South African sound. I needed that home feel, the sound of strong Zulu rhythms. I'm an urban child, a Sowetan. I don't have the country feel, and that's where Max and Lawrence Matshiza come in. Hear that mbaqanga guitar; that's Lawrence."
"Its's a song about a young man who leaves his village for the city, there he gets sucked into the shadier side of Johannesburg's bright lights, and the characters that live on the misery that the streets bring on the unsuspecting. The elders in the country say that Dumazile's only hope is to learn from his mistakes, the closest English expression to describe the apt Zulu one for what the elders say could be 'once bitten, twice shy'."

3. SCAMTHO
Composed by Vusi Khumalo & Max Mntambo (Mavusana/Peer Music)

4. STOP THE KILLING PART 1
Composed by Vusi Khumalo (Mavusana/Peer Music)
Stop The Killing has two messages so Vusi broke it into two parts, or rather two songs: "The melody of Stop The Killing is sweet. It is a comforting, consoling message. It's in a sense a plea for the killing of Africa's children to stop. Look at the situation in Rwanda. Have you seen those kids? Seeing that really depressed me. Even in South Africa, kids are being abused, molested."

5. STOP THE KILLING PART 2
Composed by Vusi Khumalo (Mavusana/Peer Music)
The second part of StopThe Killing is a happier one, a more positive message. It's a message of hope for the children."

6. FOLLOW YOUR DREAM
Composed by Vusi Khumalo (Mavusana/Peer Music)
Follow Your Dreams comes from the experiences of many musicians, particularly those from the same environment as Vusi. The song features the stunning vocal duo of Mark Anthony (who has worked with Incognito) and Elizabeth Troy.
"I used to walk into these (South African) record companies selling my music, but without luck. I'd get the feeling that these guys saw me and thought 'Oh no ! Here walks a jazz musician'. I'm not a jazz musician. I'm a musician !"
The horn section Vusi uses on the recording is largely a British one, with the exception of Cuban trumpeter Basilio Bernardo Marques Richards and South African saxophonist Khaya Mahlangu. It's a diversity that's there one moment, and suddenly gone as all the senses merge in a musical climax. Follow Your Dreams is an example of just that.
"Listen to that horn section. You'd have to go far to find a tighter one. When I recall those long hours in the studios, I can say one thing with certainty, and with an element of pride of course, and it's that these guys enjoyed playing my music, and this was a relatively new sound to them.

7. NGIKHATHELE
Composed by Vusi Khumalo (Mavusana/Peer Music)
Ngikhathele is a Zulu word that means, 'I'm tired'. "How do I describe this one? ....Maybe I can say it's about standards. It's about bad music and good music. Music speaks on this album. Take my Cuban brother, Jose, he doesn't speak English and I don't speak a word of Spanish, but can you tell the difference ? The same with the trumpeter Basilio."

8. AMANDA
Composed by Vusi Khumalo & Max Mntambo (Mavusana/Peer Music)
"Wherever you are boys will be boys and Amanda is written from their experiences. It's a song about guys talk, the kinda talk that could get one into trouble with one's sweetheart. In fact the whole project started around Amanda.
I thought of fusing mbaqanga with carribean sounds, and maybe salsa, and fortunately I'd gigged with Chucho Valdes, so when he came down to South Africa, I knew what I had to do. I'd been tossing and turning about what brass section to use for the song. I spoke to Chucho about using his brass section: 'For you Vusi, anytime'."

9. STAY AWAY
Composed by Themba Mkhize (Mavovo Music)
Stay Away is really Themba Mkhize's song. The concept for this song is a mbaqanga one, and has a long history with the musicians as it comes out of their performances from earlier days as musicians. "I'd always loved this song, so I told Themba that I'd love to arrange it for this recording." It features two bassists, South Africans Bakithi Kumalo and Fana Zulu. "Bakithi is the only bass player that can play the fretless like that, and what other bassist can work together with a master like Bakithi than Fana ? I grew up with these two guys. I know them and they know me. They almost have the same feel. That's why I can't relate to any other bass player the way I do to those two."

10. SONG FOR THE GURUS
Composed by Vusi Khumalo (Mavusana/Peer Music)
Song for The Gurus is dedicated to the memory of all the great musicians Vusi performed with, but are sadly no longer with us. The musicians whose genius touched him, albeit briefly. It's a tribute to Bra Duke Makasi, Kippie Moeketsie, Makhaya Mahlangu, Chris McGregor, Nelson Magwaza and Dizzie Gillespie.

Recorded at Realworld Studios, Box. England - November/December 1996
Engineer: Mark Chamberlain
Assistant engineer: Russell Kearney
Mixed at Livingstone Studios, London - February/March 1997
Engineer: Mark Chamberlain
Assistant engineer: Simon Burwell
Programming by Themba Mkhize.
Music arranged by Vusi Khumalo and Themba Mkhize
Produced by Russell Herman
Executive producers: Robert Trunz and Russell Herman
Cover photograph by Pav To all the musicians who were a part of this project - thank you
From South Africa, Themba Mkhize, my partner in this project, musically there's a bond. Khaya Mahlangu, the great horn transcriber. and the rest of the "homies" Moses Molelekwa, Fana Zulu, Bakithi Kumalo, Max Mntambo, Lawrence Matshiza, Khanyo Maphumulo.
From Cuba, thanks to Jose Miguel Melendez Alarcòn and Basilio Bernardo Marquez Richards and Irakere. Chucho Valdes, thank you. It was an honour to have you in the studio.
From England thanks to Mark Anthoni, Elizabeth Troy, Byron Wallen, James McMillan, Noel Langley, Dave Bitelli and Nana Tsiboe . . . together we made a joyful and soulful sound.
Thanks to Real World studios and the gang there too - Peter Gabriel, thanks for being around, great food and you too must follow your dream.
Thanks also to Mark Chamberlain, Jerry and Verity Boys, Simon Burwell, and James Thompson at Livingstone Recording Studios, Tebogo Alexander, Pav, Russell Kearney, Don Albert, Mallory Lambert, Shado Twala, Patrick Spinks and Richard Ajileye.
Special thanks to Robert, Libera and Nico Trunz, Russell Herman and all at M.E.L.T. 2000
A big thanks to the Gibraltar Company.
A very special thanks to my mum Nombulelo, dad Connie Khumalo, my grandad Sam and the whole family. My sons Muzukhulile, Njabulo and Monde, and of course my sweetheart, Gabi.
South Africa, Soweto, peace please. This is your music. Enjoy.
Sleeve notes by Vusi Khumalo, in conversation with Tebogo Alexander, Johannesburg, March 1997