Hugh Masekela Top 5: In Honor of Pioneering Musical Ambassador / Activist “Father Of South African Jazz” Who Passed @ Age 78

Posted by Billyjam, January 23, 2018 05:58pm | Post a Comment

1: Hugh Masekela Grazing In The Grass: The Best of Hugh Masekela (Sony Special Products)

2: Hugh Masekela Home Is Where The Music Is (Verve)

3:Hugh Masekela The Collection (Universal Records UK)

4: Hugh Masekela Hope (Triloka)

5: Hugh Masekela & Herb Alpert Main Event Live (Herb Alpert Presents)

The above selective top five list includes albums currently available from Amoeba by Hugh Masekela; the  78 year old pioneering world music ambassador who passed today (Jan 23, 2018) after succumbing to a ten-year battle with cancer. The South African artist pioneered connecting the musical dots between the township music of his native land with American jazz, pop and beyond. A trumpeter, flugelhorn player, singer and composer, Masekela began playing music as a young teenager, but would go on to build an influential decades-long career that began with 1950’s jazz (swing, bop), be distinguished by his early sixties exile to the USA as part of the anti-apartheid campaign, and to go on to become widely revered as the “Father of South African jazz.”

With a large body of work, Masekela is remembered by different people for different things including his activism.  Many know him for his for collaborating with Paul Simon during the mid 80’s Graceland period (scroll down to smoking 1987 concert footage in Zimbabwe below). To many longtime music fans he will be most remembered for the sixties hit single “Grazin' in the Grass.”

The 1968 multiplatinum single gave name to the compilation listed on top of the above list; Grazing In The Grass: The Best of Hugh Masekela That one hour and a quarter collection opens with the song, followed by 13 other tracks including the politically charged “Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela),” “African Secret Society,” “Casco da Gama (The Sailor Man)” and “Mama.”  A real nice collection, it acts as one of several perfect introduction to Hugh Masekela.

Unique and very diverse, Maskela’s music can found under such categories as African, World, World-Fusion, Jazz, Disco, Afro-Pop, Funk and even easy listening. The latter is where filed are his  collaborations with Herb Alpert such as the studio album Hugh Masekela + Herb Alpert and Main Event Live. That live album's eight tracks include “Kalahari Nights,” “Shame The Devil” and “People Make The World Go 'Round.”  Also on the above list is the landmark 1993 concert album Hope.  Recorded at Blues Alley in Washington DC, it was the first time that Masekela got to perform with a full African band in decades. Included are the political anthem ”Mandela" with a cover of Fela Kuti's "Lady.” 

Another artist collection CD is the 13 track, one hour & seven minute  The Collection that includes such tracks as “Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive,” “Hi-Life,” “In The Jungle,” “Mama” and the funky soulful “Witch Doctor” [the original 1976 Colonial Man album version]. Another recommended album on this list is Home Is Where The Music Is. At over an hour and a quarter of spell-binding music, this 1972  double album was released originally by Chisa/Blue Thumb and reissued by Verve in 2008 on CD. Distinctly more funk fusion, melding South African with African American rhymes and grooves, that much of his other work it features Masekela on flugelhorn along with a tight ensemble that boasts Dudu Pukwana (alto-sax), Eddie Gomez (bass), Larry Willis (piano) and Makaya Ntshoko (drums) on ten tracks including "The Big Apple," "Inner Crisis" and “Blues for Huey.”

  Rest In Peace Hugh Masekela
Hugh Masekela “Grazing In The Grass” 1968 single (AUDIO) from the album The Promise of a Future and found on such other releases as Grazing In The Grass: The Best of Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela “Coal Train (Live @ Freedom Beat Festival in UK)” (1986)

  Hugh Masekela with Paul Simon Graceland: the African Concert (1987)

Relevant Tags

World Music (146), South African Jazz (1), Father Of South African Jazz (1), Musicians In Memoriam 2018 (1), Rest In Peace Hugh Masekela (1), Afro-pop (2), Hugh Masekela Compilation (1)