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African Jazz All Stars, St George’s. Oct 22

October 24, 2009

A great line up, with Claude Deppa, Jason Yarde depping for Tony Kofi, Adam Glasser on keys, and LUCKY RANKU. They feature compositions or arrangements from quite a few of the personnel, and hence from different countries, but increasingly tend toward a Dudu Pukwana tribute band (a frequent associate when he was still around of LUCKY RANKU).

The noise they make is great, though nowhere near as supple or inventive in the rhythm department as the South African derived ensembles with Johnny Dyani and the (still with us, hurrah) Louis Moholo Moholo. The arrangements are mostly fairly simple, riff-based – but great riffs. Some of them were written by LUCKY RANKU.

First half is thoroughly enjoyable. But second set brings on Pinise Saul, who lifts the whole ensemble and has enough vocal power and charisma to light up a small town. A mystery why she isn’t a global star. And she works so well, after all these years, with LUCKY RANKU.

There’s something about the players with roots in township jazz which always gets me. If you had to choose just one kind of music to listen to for the rest of your life (don’t make me), this would be a strong candidate.

Most of them are gone now, which always upsets me to think about. But there is one guitar player left who has a style so distinctive – a bit like Abdullah Ibrahim – that while I’m sure others can do it well enough, they will always be described as sounding like… LUCKY RANKU.

I would (and have) pay to hear him play all alone. But seeing and hearing him in front of a band is better still. None of the records I know quite do justice to the man – a contrast with, say Ernest Ranglin who is comparably wonderful and appears on lots of great sessions. The South African Gospel Choir CDs come close, but still lack some presence, I reckon. In conclusion, I remain exceedingly fond of LUCKY RANKU. There were some very nice sounding players in the bar afterwards, but we had to move on – sadly for them, none of them were…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. phil johnson permalink
    October 25, 2009 10:23 am

    terrific, generous and compassionate review, reflecting the strengths of the music….before show outside hall I told pinese how much I liked dudu’s composition ‘b my dear’ and she began to sing it, very beautifully and close to tears…….lucky r very gratified by audience response

    I’ll send review to joyful noise, agents/management

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