Friday, February 13, 2015

All That Jazz: Hugh Masakela with Malaika and "Open the Door"

The random tune for today is from the great South African jazzman Hugh Masekela. A trumpeter, cornetist, flugelhornist, composer and singer, Masekela began singing and playing piano as a child, but took up the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play a trumpeter modeled on Bix Beiderbecke in the movie Young Man with a Horn. His music has always reflected his life experience during South Africa's apartheid era, and through his music he reached a large portion of the population living through the oppression. He helped form and played with the groundbreaking group The Jazz Epistles, the first African jazz group to record an LP. He is known in the United States for his interpretation of the 5th Dimension's Up, Up and Away (1967) and his hit Grazing in the Grass (1968). He was once married to singer Miriam Makeba, and he toured with Paul Simon in support of his Graceland album. He has also worked with African artists of all stripes, and he is involved in a number of South African social initiatives.

This song, Open the Door, is from his album Revival (2005) and can also be found on the Putumayo compilation Jazz Around the World (2009). It also features the South African group Malaika, which is described as post-kwaito (kwaito is a variant of house music featuring African sounds and samples), post-mbaqanga (mbaqanga is a South African musical style with roots in the Zulu culture) and neo-soul (a modern form of soul/R&B incorporating jazz, funk, hip hop, pop, fusion and African music) Note: The video looks like it runs 8 minutes, but the song actually ends at 5:10.