Rare South African Jazz
Later, in 2018, Kassin performed in London alongside the players of the multi-platinum Polish combo Mitch & Mitch, and when Kassin offered the proposal, Gary answered, “Yes!” Let’s do it, but we will need to perform in Poland with these artists. “
This resulted in Gods being recorded in Brazil in the Polish Radio Studios in Warsaw with the Mitch & Mitch guys and a lot of conventional session players, and concluding
Gideon Nxumalo, together with Chris McGregor, helped establish the pre-exile South African Jazz sound. ‘Jazz Fantasia,’ his 1962 album, is largely regarded as a pioneering South African jazz record.
A very teenaged Kippie Moeketsi and a very teenaged Dudu Pukwana appeared on the album. Dudu Pukwana performs saxophone in the style of Albert Ayler! Moeketsi was a huge South African jazz icon during that era, and ‘Jazz Fantasia’ was his final box office success before his battles with booze and despair took their toll. The album was recorded in September 1962 at Wits University’s Great Hall.
It was sponsored by the university as part of an arts festival. While having a small release at the time, the new album has become a cherished cornerstone of current South African jazz music, despite being difficult to locate.
In both style and attitude, Gideon Nxumalo’s 1962 Jazz Fantasia is a seminal work of contemporary South African jazz. It is possibly the most important small group recording of the 1960s, and one of the rare full sets by a small contemporary group issued on LP in the period. It is significant, adventurous, and flawless in idea and execution.
Nxumalo is a pivotal factor in the emergence of modernist jazz sounds in South Africa. He was a trained pianist who taught piano and theory at Dorkay House and composed the music for the Sponono musical, South Africa’s first Broadway production.
His playing is distinctive, and his melodies are revolutionary and imaginative, as demonstrated here, but, as with so many South African entrepreneurs, his recorded footprint is infuriatingly limited and extraordinarily tough to obtain. Because only a few LPs were released under his name, he has become an unknown musician. But his stature is undeniable.