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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

CD Review: Hugh Masekela – Sixty/Black to the Future/Notes of Life

(Review by Russell)
This three-CD release features Hugh Masekela’s music recorded during the mid to late 1990s. The anti-apartheid movement’s success in securing the release of Nelson Mandela encouraged a three decades’ exiled Masekela to return to South Africa and these albums on Floating World Records, a London-based specialist reissue label, represent an upbeat, celebratory period in a long recording career.
Trumpet, flugelhorn and vocals, composer Hugh Masekela has experienced chart-topping success, the highs of festival and stadium concert performances and a determined life-long political activism. Sixty comprises thirteen tracks; Fela is dedicated to the late Fela Kuti, musician, and fellow political activist. Township and Afrobeat are the life-affirming sounds permeating this and the majority of the thirty-six tracks across the three albums. It would appear that Masekela plays flugelhorn exclusively with the trumpet parts on Black to the Future played by Prince Lengosa – Chileshe and Excuse Me Baby feature Lengosa, Khaya Mahlangu, tenor saxophone, and Jasper Cook, trombone, alongside Masekela’s flugelhorn and vocals.
On several tracks Don Laka is listed as playing ‘all other instruments’ thus identifying him as pianist on several otherwise un-credited piano contributions. Bokone closes Black to the Future seemingly without Masekela, but with effective guitar contributions from Kenny Mathaba and John Selolwane.

The third album – Notes of Life was actually the first of the three to be recorded and it has a soul-jazz feel to it with its soft-focus backing vocals and synth keyboard sounds. Bassist Trevor Gordon, one of four heard on this disc, restrains his fretless jazz bass inclinations on Moments of Love, fine collective vocals take centre stage on Father of Our Nation (comp. H Masekela/Cedric Samson) in praise of Mandela - ‘father of our freedom’ they sing, and the all-too-short salute to Mandela Thank You Madiba brings to a close almost three hours playing time of the music of Hugh Masekela.     
Russell
Sixty/Black to the Future/Notes of Life is available now. 
Visit: www.floatingworldrecords.co.uk               

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