JJ 06/84: Dudu Pukwana – Life In Bracknell & Willisau

Forty years ago Barry McRae heard Pukwana's spirited band Zila playing good jazz over African township inspired backgrounds. First published in Jazz Journal June 1984


African/jazz/funk is not to every taste, but when players like Puk­wana and Beckett are involved it becomes an up-market product. On this record there is Lipere’s freaky, if humorous vocalese, and Saul’s ethnic but highly indi­vidual singing.

Jolobe’s special­ised drumming and the infectious support from Lipere and Bates ensures a shifting and rhyth­mically mobile bass and the choice of material, including eight originals from the band, complete a package to please most tastes.

Pukwana is at his dancing best on Baganga Bay and The Big (Pine) Apple and, although he is not as inventive as he might be, he swings effortlessly and is brimming with confidence. The usually reliable Beckett has also played better but he still has enough to say to make his mark and he has a particularly good solo on Big (Pine) Apple.

Zila are essentially a visual group but on this record there is enough good jazz to remind their followers of two special jazz festivals.

Hug Pine; Mahlomole; Lafente; Baganga Bay; Freeley (30.15) – Funk Them DP To Eriko; Ziyekeleni; The Big (Pine) Apple; Zama Khwalo (25.30)
Harry Beckett (t/flh); Dudu Pukwana (as/ss/whistles); Django Bates (key); Eric Richards (elb); Paul Gamblin (g); Churchill Jolobe (d); Thebe Kipere (pc/v); Pinise Saul (v). Bracknell/Willisau, 1983.
(Jika ZL 2)