African Music Legend Hugh Masekela’s New Album Draws Inspiration from Leading Masters of Kwaito Music

New York City, USA – South African music legend and world music
pioneer Hugh Masekela defies categories once again on his new CD, Revival (HUCD 3093), to be released by Heads Up International on May 24, 2005. Still
riding high on the acclaim surrounding his recent autobiography,
Still Grazing : The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela
(co-written with Michael Cheers), this first new album in three years finds him
in the company of South Africa’s most talented young producers and musicians. On
Revival, the horn player/ vocalist/songwriter draws much of his
inspiration from the arranging styles of Kwaito (pronounced kwite-o) music
exponents, Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat, jazz, and rhythm and blues.

Kwaito is going to be around for a long time. It’s going to become
an integral part of South African mainstream music. It’s the core of the feeling
of today’s township youth
,” said Masekela in the album’s press release.Kwaito is music with a message, a style that emerged following the end of
apartheid in the early 1990s as people felt freer to express their true feelings
about the quality of their lives without fear or imprisonment. Kwaito, slang for
“ferocious,” “hot-tempered” or “awesome,” was initially promoted by small,
independent record labels in South Africa. Since that time, Kwaito has become
the voice of urban youth in new South Africa.

Two of the most talented young master-producers from the Kwaito world, Zwai
Bala of TKZee fame and Godfrey “Guffy” Pilane, had made a fan out of me with the
cross-section of wonderful productions they had success with over the last
decade because they were prolific, versatile and extremely gifted
,” Masekela
says in his liner notes, “I sincerely felt that a collaboration with them
would bridge the ridiculous category gap that separated us and result in a truly
and proudly South African product

On Revival, the South African music giant fires up his flugelhorn and
cornet with six originals: “Woman of the Sun,” “Spring,” “Smoke,” “Sleep,”
“Working Underground” and “Open the Door.” Most of Revival’s twelve tracks focus
as much on Masekela’s voice as his widely praised horn-playing.

The soothing opener, “After Tears,” features his trademark catchy rhythms and
jazzy horn lines, as well as the guitar work of Jimmy Dludlu, whom Masekela
considers to be one of the greatest living guitarists. Merging jazz, funk and
pop, Masekela and his group lock into a supple groove on Hotep Idris Galeta’s
“District Six.” Other highlights include Zwai Bala’s “Fresh Air” and an
instrumental version of the Isley Brothers’ “For the Love of You.”

Born near Johannesburg in 1939, Hugh Masekela made a remarkable journey from
apartheid South Africa to the music scene in New York City, where he struck gold
with his instrumental pop hit, “Grazing in the Grass.” However, Masekela was
also one of the leading crusaders against apartheid. His collaborations with

Miriam Makeba
and his groundbreaking early albums help bring traditional
South African music to the mainstream jazz audience.

Masekela studied at the Guidhall School of Music, then the Manhattan School of
Music. During the early 1960s, his career began to explode. He recorded for
Chissa, MGM, Mercury, Universal, Motown, A&M, Warner Brothers, Jive Records and
Sony Music, developing his powerful blend of jazz, funk and afro-beat. He has
released over forty albums and has performed with artists as diverse as Dizzy
Gillepsie, The Crusaders, Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Sarah Vaughan, Ella
Fitzgerald, Santana, Paul Simon, Stan Getz and Herb Alpert. Masekela conceived
and composed the music for the Broadway smash musical Sarafina with
actor/director/songwriter/playwright Mbongeni Ngema.

After all his commercial success, Masekela eventually returned to his
transformed homeland, where he continues to be an important force in the world
of music.

Over the years, Masekela’s horn has been a call to freedom and a celebration of
the resilience of his people. Rejoicing at the demise of apartheid, Revival is the latest release in the 2005 Heads Up Africa series, a critically acclaimed
collection that spotlights some of Southern Africa’s finest vocalists and

Upcoming tour dates:

6/12 Wilmington, DE, Wilmington Jazz Festival
6/18 Toledo, OH, Toledo Jazz Festival
6/23 Brooklyn, NY, Celebrate Brooklyn Festival
6/24-26 Boston, MA, Sculler’s
7/7-10 Oakland, CA, Yoshi’s
7/24 Los Angeles, CA, The Hollywood Bowl
8/11 Seattle, WA, The Triple Door
8/17 San Diego, CA, Long Beach Jazz Festival

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central