Shuffling drum beats, serene horn lines, and sweet vocal melodies all come together in the vintage sounds of township jive and South African jazz. Featured on the superb African Jazz n' Jive compilation, these styles originally evolved out of a complex web of local and global influences. From traditional Kwela flute music and improvisatory Marabi, to bass-heavy Mbaqanga and very influential American jazz recordings, both township jive and South African jazz were born. On African Jazz n' Jive (subtitled An Authentic Selection of South African Township Swing Classics From the '50s and '60s), 24 cuts from prominent South African artists who contributed to the scene are presented. A self-described "mix of Mbaqanga, Marabi, and North American swing music," the CD includes such noteworthy musicians as alto sax player Kippie Moeketsi, tenor sax player Mackay Devashe, Hugh Masekela, and Jonas Gwangwa. Celebrated vocalists the Manhattan Brothers, Dolly Rathebe, and the Skylarks (including a young Miriam Makeba) punctuate the cuts on the CD. A swing-ska number by Reggie Msomi's Hollywood Jazz Band and a choral recording by Solomon Linda's Original Evening Birds -- which was actually recorded in 1939 -- are extremely noteworthy despite their somewhat out of place inclusion on a compilation of jazz-oriented tunes from the '50s and '60s. Steeped in South African and African-American traditions, the propulsive tunes on African Jazz n' Jive should have you at least nodding your head and tapping your feet in time. As stated in the CD's liner notes, "If you don't tap your feet to this music, you're probably dead."
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AllMusic Review by John Vallier