Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spear of the Nation

What a shame that South African saxophonist Dudu Pukwana died in exile on June 30, 1990, four years before the coming of democracy to his homeland and the end of the hated apartheid system. Perhaps he took some solace, on February 11 of that year, in seeing the release of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela after 27 years of incarceration.

Born on July 18, 1938, Pukwana was a titan of the South African jazz scene who played a critical role in the Blue Notes and Jazz Giants in South Africa, and in exile with Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath. He later co-founded the Afro-rock group Assagai and Spear, which recorded the influential In The Townships (Virgin C1504) in 1973.

I was inspired to post Pukwana's live recording Life in Bracknell & Willisau (Jika Records ZL 2, 1983) by Matsuli Music's recent post of the wonderful South African jazz LP Armitage Road by the Heshoo Beshoo Group. Released on Pukwana's own label, Life didn't achieve wide circulation, which is unfortunate, as it features some inspired performances, especially the vocals of Pinise Saul.

If you'd like to invesitigate more of Pukwana's music, In The Townships is out of print, but available
here. Another popular album of his, Diamond Express (Arista/Freedom FLP 41041, 1975), is also out of print, and available here.

Dudu Pukwana & Zila w. Pinise Saul - Hug Pine (Bambelela)

Dudu Pukwana & Zila w. Pinise Saul - Mahlomole (Lament)/Lafente (Ntabeni-In the Mountains)

Dudu Pukwana & Zila w. Pinise Saul - Baqanga Bay

Dudu Pukwana & Zila w. Pinise Saul - Freely

Dudu Pukwana & Zila w. Pinise Saul - Funk Them Up to Eriko

Dudu Pukwana & Zila w. Pinise Saul - Ziyekeleni (Let Them Be)

Dudu Pukwana & Zila w. Pinise Saul - The Big (Pine)Apple

Dudu Pukwana & Zila w. Pinise Saul - Zama Khwalo (Try Again)


matt said...

Thanks John. I had the opportunity to speak to Dudu a few months after the release of Nelson Mandela and I didn't quite understand his caution. The toll of exile was very heavy.

ish said...

Pinise Saul can be heard on another South African jazz record up at my blog.

Thanks for this one!

John B. said...

^Thanks for that, my friend.

Comb & Razor said...

Nice stuff! I've been meaning to get deeper into his catalog for a while... Where's the best place to start?

John B. said...

I'm not super-familiar with his work, but most people feel that In The Townships is one of his great recordings, and Diamond Express is highly regarded also.

Comb & Razor said...

I'll check 'em out!

Mike Fowler said...

Hi, Thanks for the Dudu Pukwana page. Maybe you would like to look at my web site
for a much fuller history of the South African exiles.
Thanks Mike

John B. said...

Mike: Your site is fascinating. I've added it to my sidebar.

Anonymous said...

This piece made me look for the copy of Afro Rock festival on contour records.
It has two tracks by Assagai and Simba the bras section of Assagai plus three English musicians from Jade Warrior.
other groups featured are Osibisa,Chaka and Grutz.
That's why it's called african rock I suppose.

Anonymous said...

thanks for introducing me to this Dudu. I love Jazz and had not heard about this band.
This is wonderful music
Wuod K

Anonymous said...

Are these MP3s still available? I just got this error message:

The requested URL /Sounds/Dudu/Freely.mp3 was not found on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

John B. said...

There appear to be problems with my file server. I've contacted them & hopefully the problem will be corrected shortly.

Comb & Razor said...

This piece made me look for the copy of Afro Rock festival on contour records.

Been a while since I listened to that record myself...

Luke Top said...

Hi John. I am a huge fan of your work. I keep discovering new things thanks to you. Likembe is one of my favorite world music blogs out there. If you are interested in some new Afropop/soul coming from the US please check out this band based in LA:
If you'd like, I can send you some music to post. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know more about Dudu, do look at my web site

Mike Fowler