Pops Mohamed - Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow
In the past 2 years I have occasionally reviewed albums of Sheer
Sound, a label specialized in music from Southern Africa. The typical
Sheer sound is jazz mixed with traditional South African music. Pops
Mohamed was born in South Africa. He raised in the small town Benoni
nearby Johannesburg and listened to the music of Kippie Moeketsi and
Abdullah Ibrahim. He then teamed up with Abdullah Ibrahim's
saxophonist, Bazil 'Mannenberg' Coetzee and Sakhile's bassist, Sipho
Gumede, landing a record contract which resulted in several
albums. His specialties are traditional instruments as the Kora (a
harp from West Africa), the Mbira (a thumb piano from Zimbabwe), the
Didgeridoo (native to the Aboriginal people of Australia) and the
Birimbau and the African Mouth Bow - developed by the South American
Indians and the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert respectively.
"Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow" is not only a best-of-album
but also a mirror of his current work. Following the title the album
is divided in these 3 parts. All songs were recorded and mixed June
is a flash back to his first releases. His Kalamazoo and Sophiatown
albums were nominated for "Best Jazz Album" in South
Africa's OKTV Awards. "On Kalamazoo
I first heard traditional instruments (Mbira and Makweyani) played
along with saxophones and piano in "Shebeens". This revisit
to Kalamazoo is about remembering and celebrating the people who lived
there and who have inspired me to what I'm doing now -trying to
recreate now what I have heard at the time." The midtempo piece
is arranged in the traditional South African way. A big brass section,
saxophones, a quick rhythm guitar are the main instruments.
Mother And Child is
dedicated to the love between mother and child, a lifetime bond. Moses
Khumalo is playing sax, Mokone Senkhane trombone as lead instruments,
Pops Mohamed keyboard and organ. Moses and Mokone are improvising
around the main theme.
is a dedication to the brothers and sisters who have contributed to
the rich musical heritage of Gauteng and welcomes back those who lived
in exile for many, many years. Gauteng is a cosmopolitan,
multicultural mix of people from all walks of life, from all four
corners of the world. It's a part of South Africa.
is about the way of the city. Pops Mohamed is playing besides Rhodes
electric piano the Kora ( SA traditional harp), digeridoo and bird
whistle and gives this tune its atmospheric touch. Moses Khumalo is
blowing many licks on sax followed by Mokone Senkhane's trombone. They
demonstrate that jazz can paint pictures of imagination.
Movement In The
City - Part I is
about signs of hope that we see in the city. The tune is more pop and
"Today" section the album starts with The
Journey - Part 1 (Mayibuye).
"You will never know where you are going unless you know where
you are coming from". The vocal intro introduced a rhythmic
traditional song which let you dance. The
Journey - Part 2 (The Groove).
This tune is also a demonstration of traditional instruments as Mbira,
Khoisan Mouthbow, Didgeridoo, Vocal Chant, Rain Stick and more.
is what we believe in and what we sees as our guiding light - no
matter what we call it. It is always there as our guide and we have to
believe in it." Very impressing is Pops' harp play. One of the
reason Pops Mohamed was invited by Andreas Vollenweider touring
Switzerland with Andreas Vollenweider's band featuring Max Lasser and
Continues is an
exposure of the African tuned Karimba. Moses Khumalo plays the soprano
is a town in the Swiss Alps, where Pops wrote this song. It was deeply
inspired and is dedicated to his friend Andreas Vollenweider. It is
one of the few pieces on which Pop uses drum programming. The
"Uh-Ehs" are reminding me at Deep Forest's "Sweet
Movement In The
City - Part I. Pops
comments to this tune: "We shouldn't be negative about our
country - we should be positive because we are special." And
indeed this music is unique, but also a typical "Sheer
Finally we reached
"Tomorrow". We listen to I'm
going back. This
tune was previously released as "Cup o' Jo'burg". Pop
comments: "Even though I'm a 21st century person, I'm still
looking back. I back up my computer every day and , in the same way, I
back up my culture and roots. Isn't it ironic that we are throwing
away the very culture that our black brothers and sisters abroad are
trying to embrace? What is wrong with this picture?"
Besides these deep
thoughts remains an album with vivid music and awesome melodies in the
tradition of South Africa enriched with jazz elements.