Bheki Mseleku - Home At Last
Sound has released a lot of albums of musicians whose music cannot
categorized as "straight ahead jazz". Most of them are
influenced by their environment. I use this term not in a local sense
but more in a musical one. The South African jazz scene is proud of
their South African heritage and most of the musicians intend to
integrate the sound of South Africa into their style. After reading
his biography you will know that Bheki Mseleku has lived a great part
of his time in Londoner exile caused
by the oppressive apartheid system. Certainly he has profited
by his collaborations with Courtney
Pine, Steve Williamson, Eddie Parker, Jean Toussaint, Michael Bowie and Marvin "Smitty"
"Home At Last" is an
acknowledgement of superiority in respect of his homeland and its
inhabitants. It's also a reference to his own musical history. No, Bheki
Mseleku refuses to be categorized as "jazz pianist" or
"South African". So try to listen to his albums without any
is the pre-name of Sandile Shange, a great guitarist from Bheki's
Bheki's piano playing is often compared with McCoy
Tyner and fellow South African, Abdullah Ibrahim. Bheki has a smooth
contact to the keys, in the beginning a caressing touch his play is
increasing to a piano forte accompanied by the typical brass sound.
Enoch Mthalane adds some nice guitar slicks in a "Shange"
Monwabisi is named
for the legendary "Mankunku
Winston Ngozi". Mankunku recorded and released the acclaimed
album "Jika" in 1986 on the joint record label Nkomo.
Recorded both in Cape Town and London, "Jika" featured a
number of exiled South African musicians, including Bheki Mseleku,
Russell Herman, and Lucky Ranku. It's an enjoyment to listen to the
interaction of acoustic bass, saxophone and piano. The tenor saxophone
is played by Mankunku. Home again!
Home At Last a
celebration of being home again incorporates the ease of existence.
Although jazz styled the melodious parts of this song will appeal even
the youth. A very hooking potential.
From Within features Feya Faku on flugel horn. A slow tempo
piece with some impressing piano running in between.
is one of the suburbs of Pretoria. A town with a vivid culture, jazz
gigs and workshops
Mseleku shows his own vision of this sparkling city.
Love Is The Key
is a further reverie, a confession to love and music.
contemplative tunes Bheki
returns with Dance
With Me Tonight
to the dance floor. I should better say, it's not danceable but
Bheki goes his own
way of music. Although knowing about the popularity of such grooving
pieces he returns to jazz elements with classic rhythm structures.
Take for example Mbizo.
This tune is dedicated to Johnny Mbizo Dyani, a legendary jazz player
(African Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz).
a part of the Kruger National Park is the
right theme for a further jazz exploration.
Nant's Inkululeko, a
feast for brass fans, is the platform for Ezra Ngcukana's tenor
saxophone and Feya Faku's flugel horn solos. Bheki Mseleku
piano solo is the inauguration of jazz.
A further summit
is Belinda Ananda.
Improvisation finds a fertile ground here.
Monk The Priest.
"The most important jazz musicians are the ones who are
successful in creating their own original world of music with its own
rules, logic, and surprises." This homage to "Thelonious
Monk", the great jazz pianist, follows the path of a legend.
Home At Last
offers a glimpse of the musical nature of Bheki
Mseleku. John Matshikiza describes Bheki as a "new warrior".
I believe he is more an ambassador of his own music. Someone who knows
to convince with soft tones.