Sep 17, 2010

South African Jazz: Malombo Jazz Makers


The group is based in Mamelodi, Pretoria and led by multi-instrumentalist Philip Tabane. Malombo is one of South Africa's longest standing groups, and has helped shape and inspire the musical careers of many.

Initially operating as The Malombo Jazzmen with Abe Cindi (flute) and Julian Bahula (percussion) in the 1960's, the group evolved to Malombo, with Tabane enlisting (and training) a succession of musicians, including Mabe Thobejane, and more recently, Raymond Motau and Oupa Monareng. The instrumentation is unconventional - African drums and hand percussion, interplaying with Tabane’s unique guitar, vocal, and flute sounds.

Tabane blends traditional compositions and cultural themes with his acoustic sounds.

Internationally acclaimed, Tabane has toured extensively in Europe and the United States, performing at the Apollo Theatre (New York) and the Montreaux Jazz Festival, amongst others. The group is based in Mamelodi, Pretoria.



For the record, Malombo split in to 2 groups in 1966 - Philip Tabane & Gabriel 'Mabi' Thobejane (who took over the percussion & drum duties from Julian Bahula), were known for a time as The Malombo Jazz Men, and Julian's Malombo became The Malombo Jazz Makers with Lucky Ranku (filling in for Philip) & Abe Cindi on Flute (Penny Whistle).



The enigmatic, innovative seer and composer-band leader Doctor Philip Tabane is a giant in South African music. Since the early 60s he has forged a musical path that defies boundaries, channelling the voices of his ancestors, the Malombo spirits of Venda, through rich polyrhythmic African beats and alchemic free jazz improvisation.

While Tabane has toured internationally, playing with jazz greats like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Charles Mingus, his home is in South Africa with Malombo. Here, working with an ever-shifting cast of musicians, his Malombo Jazz Makers, the master lets loose with intricate improvisation and free-form soloing that trace the linage of gospel, blues and funk back to its African roots.

But Malombo is not just music. It’s an individualised spirit force that uses song and dance as a vehicle of expression. It’s Tabane eschewing traditional cord structures as he fashions harmonious sound around the innuendo of his voice. It’s the Doctor, dressed in snakeskin trousers, injecting his Gibson hollow-body with an insatiable sense of discovery, coaxing free form sounds by hitting the strings or sparking otherworldly melodies from feather light plucks. It’s energy music, a potent life force that reignites black consciousness and speaks to the soul while insisting you get up and dance.



01 Ngivul Ele
02 Udondolo
03 Soul of Africa
04 Jolly Journey
05 Umkhosi
06 Majazana
07 Abbey's Body
08 Vukani
09 Hleziphi
10 Sibathathu
11 Malomb I Walk
12 Emoubane

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