Blue Notes: In Concert

Another slice of the joy of life from London's South Africans, in this case Dudu Pukwana, Chris McGregor, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo-Moholo

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Some of this music first saw the light of day on vinyl (Ogun OG 220) in 1978, the year after it was recorded. The 44 years since that issue have done nothing to diminish the music. Indeed, it could be argued that the passing of time has increased its potency.

If so, then this is thanks in no small part to the commitment of the musicians involved. The quartet not only plays as one but also thinks as one, as is apparent from the opening Izwi > Msenge Mabelelo. The group seems to start at a point some bands might spend an evening trying (and failing) to reach.

The following Nqamakwe showcases a group as at home in the realms of the free as it is in those of the composed, and with levels of energy and commitment suggestive of musicians motivated by something other than the mere business of working and playing together.

Kudala > Funky Boots is in no small measure irrepressible, alive with the joy of life, and arguably of an age less fraught than the one we’re currently living through. It’s indicative of music’s ability to lighten our burdens both real and imagined, in much the same way as, say, some live recordings of Sidney Bechet (in the company of Bunk Johnson among others) from 1945 do.

In short, it surely must have been the deepest joy to witness a club set by this group, three members of which are no longer with us. That is the way of things, but then the same is equally true of the oblique immortalisation of recording. Still, I can’t help wishing I’d been there.

Discography
Izwi > Msenge Mabelelo; Nqamakwe; Manje > Funky Boots; We Nduna; Kudala (Long Ago) > Funky Boots; Mama Ndoluse; > Abalimanga (59.11)
Dudu Pukwana (as); Chris McGregor (p); Johnny Dyani (b); Louis Moholo-Moholo (d). 100 Club, 100 Oxford Street, London W1, 16 April 1977.
Ogun OGCD 027