Born in 1981 in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, Ayanda Sikade is one of South African jazz’s most in-demand and respected drummers, a familiar face on the scene for years and a driving force behind its growing prominence on the world stage. Dedicated to his grandmother who raised him, Sikade’s long-awaited sophomore album as a bandleader, Umakhulu, follows his 2018 debut Movements. Recorded in Johannesburg in early 2021, it features the talents of frequent collaborator Nduduzo Makhathini on piano, young Simon Manana on alto sax and Nhlanhla Radebe on bass. The album’s nine tracks, composed and produced by Sikade, pay homage to the artist’s heritage — most noticeably on ‘Mdantsane’ and ‘Nxarhuni River’ — while forging onwards to a brave new world on others, like ‘Imithandazo Yeengelosi’ (Prayer of Angels) and ‘Space Ship’.
E&S Brothers’ 1985 album Taduma holds a unique yet overlooked place in the history of South African dance music. When Shadrack Ndlovu and Ernest Segeel teamed up with Dane Stevenson, owner of Blue Tree Studio in downtown Johannesburg, and journeyman producer Taso Stephanou, South Africa’s bubblegum era had just begun, spurred on by the success of Shangaan disco. The relative success of their debut 12” ‘Don’t Bang The Taxi Door’, marketed aggressively at taxi ranks throughout the country, helped put the Blue Tree label on the map and E&S were invited back to record a full album: Taduma, featuring on keyboards Dr Buke, an in-demand session player from Soweto. Rooted in Africa, yet purely electronic, Taduma was a moderate hit, spurred by tracks like ‘Taxi Door’ and ‘Mhane’, its hypnotic refrain ‘Mhane, famba na wena’ meaning ‘Mother, I am going to you’. Other tracks like ‘Mapantsula’ and ‘Be Careful’ place Taduma within the street-savvy ‘pantsula’ style and dance synonymous with consecutive waves of music from disco to kwaito, house and beyond, while ‘Sikele Masike’ repurposes a traditional Shangaan work song. Vocally E & S are closer to rapping than singing, in a combination of English and vernacular – predating other credited pioneers of kwaito in SA like Senyaka and Spokes H. Driving the music instead of vocals are waves of searing synths over rudimentary but explosive drum machine sounds – the word ‘Taduma’ meaning the sound of the drum.
Following a definitive first volume jam-packed with forward-thinking musical talent working in the South African creative improvised music idiom, New Horizons returns with a fresh iteration of young artists who continue in the same tradition and tone. The compilation showcases recent recordings from 14 more leading lights in South Africa’s contemporary jazz scene: pianists Thembelihle Dunjana, Afrika Mkhize, Sibusiso ‘Mash’ Mashiloane, Blake Hellaby and Siphephelo Ndlovu’s The SN Project; saxophonists Sisonke Xonti, Muhammad Dawjee and Linda Sikhakhane; singer Spha Mdlalose; drummers Ayanda Sikade, Leagan Starchild and Tefo Mahola; and trumpeters Ndabo Zulu and Marcus Wyatt accompanied respectively by Umgidi Ensemble and The ZAR Jazz Orchestra. Together they form part of a vibrant, connected community charting new sonic territory that speaks to today’s troubled times while building on the country’s unique and proud jazz history.
Soweto-born Sello Twala emerged as a key figure in South Africa’s bubblegum scene, initially cutting his teeth in the early 80s as part of groups Umoja, Harari and Image, who in 1985 released the track that would give him his nickname: ‘Chicco’. Teaming up with co-producer Attie van Wyk, later that year he released his first single as a solo artist, ‘We Can Dance’. It was followed in 1986 by ‘I Need Some Money’. Both tracks add accessible English lyrics and catchy call-and-response vocals to infectious Shangaan-rooted dance rhythms, appealing to a wide audience that defied apartheid categories and established Chicco as a charismatic solo star, as well as a talented producer, both in SA and across the continent. Based on the success of these breakthrough singles, Chicco would go on to release politically charged pop albums We Miss You Manelow (1987), Thina Sizwe Esimnyama (1989), Soldier (1989) and Papa Stop the War (1990) and Nomari (1991).
New compilation of South Africa’s leading young jazz talent on Afrosynth Records, compiled by DJ Okapi and Shane Cooper. Featuring Thandi Ntuli, Kyle Shepherd, Mabuta, Yonela Mnana, Zoë Modiga, Benjamin Jephta, Siya Makuzeni, Lwanda Gogwana, Mandisi Dyantyis, Reza Khota, Bokani Dyer, Vuma Levin and a broader group of talented supporting musicians. From tight trios to expansive, cosmic collectives, this compilation highlights the best of what’s come out of the country in recent years.
New anthology on Afrosynth Records brings together six songs by South African disco star Kamazu, spanning his career from 1986 to 1997: two of his biggest hits, ‘Korobela’ and ‘Indaba Kabani’, two more obscure songs from his catalogue, ‘Victim’ and ‘Why’, and two tracks from his kwaito comeback, ‘Mjukeit’ and ‘Atikatareni’.
Little-known trio The Bees put out only one full album, 1988’s She’s A Witch (Tikoloshi). Its six tracks all offer dancefloor-ready, distinctively South African grooves that show how bubblegum in the late 80s embraced house music. Produced by Steve Cooks, who would go on to work with heavyweights Senyaka, Spokes H and Umoja in the years that followed. Searing vocals and percussive synth basslines are best on ‘Hlabalaza’ (already a DJ favourite) and the title track, it lyrics telling the spooky tale of an evil woman who rules the night – ‘Tikoloshi’ being the mischievous creature of Zulu folklore (usually a man) who is still widely blamed for all manner of mysterious happenings in the middle of the night.
South African disco release. The title track ‘Dance’, written by Belgian composer Frank Degrijse, was released by Night Force and became a hit throughout Europe in 1980. In South Africa the song was released with permission at a slower tempo (the original 45rpm was ‘officially’ slowed down to 33rpm). Added to this are four tracks by Music Team’s in-house production team the Tom Cats – including dub reworkings of recent Afrosynth releases ‘Burnin Beat’ and ‘Searchin’, here released as ‘Hot Stuff’ and ‘Search For Love’ respectively. Synth-heavy oddities ‘You Are My Fire’ and ‘Shake Shake’ make up the rest of the tracklist.
Shane Cooper is a bassist, composer and producer from Cape Town, South Africa. He is part of the new wave of young voices in the South African jazz scene. A prolific sideman and award-winning acoustic jazz artist, he also involved in South Africa’s leftfield electronic dance scene under the alias Card On Spokes.
In demand massive South African disco banger from 1979. Now reissued for the first time on the AfroSynth imprint.