ADDITIONAL SPECIAL NOTE: The fact that you are reading this shows you are interested, so it is only fair to mention that this album is 10 years old, only a few unsold copies are left and when it's gone, it's gone. You might get it second-hand somewhere. but why not buy it here and now?
ORIGINAL ALBUM NOTES:
TUGELA RAIL AND OTHER TRACKS
This is a collection of well-known South African jazz numbers I often performed with these famous South African musicians. My groups toured internationally and of course played most of the major and minor festivals and clubs in South Africa.
I taught jazz at the University of Natal (later U. of KwaZuku-Natal) in Durban, formed the Centre for Jazz & Popular Music (1989) and remained Director until I retired from that job in 2005. (Full details are available at dariusbrubeck.com.)
‘Tugela Rail’ and ‘Daveyton Special’ are the only self-composed ‘originals’ on this CD. The ‘other tracks’ refered to in the title are, in effect, tributes to some of the local jazz musicians who were bandstand colleagues and friends for a substantial period of my life - nearly a quarter of a century from 1983 to 2005. The oldest come from an NPR recording made at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1990 and the most recent (the two with guitarist Sandile Shange)were studio recordings made in 2003.
(see notes on each track below.)
Titles: Tugela Rail, Years Ago, Tshona, Nombelelo, Mamazala, Sad Song, Kwela Mama, Lakutshoni’langa, Daveyton Special
1. A vinyl ‘maxi-single’ of Tugela Rail was my first South African recording, made back in 1983 and long out of print. I drove up to Joburg with Sandile Shange (guitar) and Marc Duby (bass) who were both in the first band I put together in Durban when I joined the music department at the University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal). Gabriel “Mabi” Thobejani (percussion), Nelson Magwaza (drums) and Barney Rachabane, completed the studio band. Composed in Connecticut as Winter Dreams, I changed the title when on a sunny ride through the lovely hills and cane fields of KwaZulu-Natal, we came across the Tugela Rail siding and trading store. This version by Afro-Cool Concept is from Still On My Mind (2003) and my wife, Cathy took the photo that appears on the back all those years ago.
2. Years Ago is a wistful, beautiful ballad by Duke Makasi that I still play. Duke appeared with the earliest “Afro-Cool Concept”, which performed all over South Africa and travelled by bus to Harare with Sakhile and Steve Newman to play at a major jazz festival there. The band ‘ACC’ was originally formed as a trio with Victor Ntoni and Lulu Gontsana in 1989 and we played at the very first Grahamstown Jazz Festival as both a headliner band with Duke, as well as a house rhythm section backing soloists such as Barney Rachabane, Winston Mankunku, Johnny Fourie and Donald Tshomela.
3. Tshona is Pat Matchikiza’s big hit and I associate it with good times at the legendary Rainbow Restaurant & Jazz Club in Pinetown established by Ben Pretorius. The tune is well liked wherever I’ve taken it and reminds me of all the musicians I’ve admired and played with from the Eastern Cape. Of course many of them are represented on this compilation; Pat, Duke, Zim Ngqawana, Lulu Gontsana and Lex Futshane.
4. Sandile and I played his lullaby Nombelelo during a guitar/piano duo set that was broadcast throughout Europe from the Platinum Club during the 1987 Montreux Jazz Festival. Sandy died in a traffic accident outside a Durban jazz club in 2004 and I believe that this track and Sad Song are his last recordings. On the road to anywhere with Sandy was always a ‘trip’ and we certainly paid dues on all sorts of gigs in South Africa, Swaziland and Namibia. I hope that someday all of his compositions will be collected and heard.
5. Mamazala was recorded live with “Gathering Forces”, a more recent formulation of a band concept I started in the US in the 70s. Deepak Ram and I still use the name “Gathering Forces” when we work together and these particular ‘forces’ included two other musicians that participated in the original South African ‘GF’ band, namely Brendan Jury and Zim Ngqawana, who were students together in the early 80s. In fact this band is a real gathering of UKZN alumni and also features Concord Nkabinde, Mark Kilian, whose most recent film music credit are Tsotsi and Before the Rains and Kevin Gibson, who joined my first Durban band in 1984 after Nelson Magwaza died. Saxophonist, Chris Merz made a huge contribution to the UKZN jazz programme while he was teaching there from 1991 to 1994. Robert Trunz of MELT 2000 recorded this Mamazala and he previously released Gathering Forces 2 live from the Durban International Festival of Music with our first recorded version. Actually many thanks are due to Robert who also arranged for Sandile and I to play at Montreux and for the CD release of Afro-Cool Concept's “Live in New Orleans”.
6. Sad Song is another of Sandile’s lovely lyrical ballads. He liked the inner connections between chords, creating threads of melody on the lower strings that sounded like a second guitar playing along. The way he worked his choruses up into chord solos was amazing, as good as Wes Montgomery. The more you know about guitar playing, the more mysterious and impressive Sandile’s quiet mastery seems. It’s great that Kevin Gibson is playing on Sandile’s tunes because he played so many gigs with Sandy and me in the early years. Kevin is still in bands that I put together and we played most recently at the 2007 Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
7/8/9. Kwela Mama, Lakutshoni’langa and Daveyton Special come from an award-winning broadcast by National Public Radio of Afro-Cool Concept’s set at the 1990 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Barney Rachabane, whose sensational high-energy alto playing gave ACC an unmistakably South African signature, was part of “Afro Cool Concept” from 1990 until 2004 and did all the overseas touring and ACC recording. In 1996, Bongani Sokhela, another former student, replaced Victor Ntoni as the bass player and this new ‘Afro Cool’ band played major concerts in the US, Denmark, England, Italy and Thailand. These three selections of course feature ‘Bra Vic’ on bass and represent our auspicious start as an international act. Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was first issued by the old Roots label on vinyl and again in 1993 on CD by B&W Records (later MELT2000), so these selections will be new to most listeners. Lulu’s sad death in December 2005 meant the end of Afro-Cool, so I am very glad these re-released tracks are here and document his personal style and this band’s history together.
PERSONNEL AND CREDITS
Tugela Rail, Years Ago and Tshona: Darius Brubeck, piano with Barney Rachabane, alto & soprano saxes; Bongani Sokhela, bass; Lulu Gontsana, drums.
Nombelelo and Sad Song: Darius Brubeck, piano and synthesizer with Sandile Shange, guitar; Lex Futshane, bass; Kevin Gibson, drums.
Mamazala: Darius Brubeck, piano and Deepak Ram, bansuri with Chris Merz, soprano sax, Zim Ngqawana, alto sax; Brendan Jury, viola; Mark Kilian, synthesizer; Concord Nkabinde, bass; Kevin Gibson, drums.
Kwela Mama, Lakutshoni’langa and Daveyton Special: Darius Brubeck, piano with Barney Rachabane, alto & soprano saxes; Victor Ntoni, bass; Lulu Gontsana, drums.