Hugh Masekela

Live at the Market Theatre

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This two-and-a-half-hour concert recording serves both to sum up the career of its performer, now that he is north of 65 years old, and also to demonstrate that he is still working at his peak. Hugh Masekela's voice is more gravelly than in the past, but his flugelhorn playing is as good as ever, and his abilities as a bandleader are apparent. Even more, his stature as a musical statesman is on display. He first makes reference to his political views in a lengthy, and clearly rehearsed, introduction to "Stimela," which he dedicates to "all those people who lose their lives working in cheap labor. If there's any here tonight," he adds, "we are with you." Unfortunately, the crowd laughs at the suggestion that any of them might be underpaid, and Masekela scolds them, "It's not a joke." Later, during another long introduction to "Mandela," he seems to realize that his lectures may be dampening the celebratory mood and proclaims, "I'm not running for office!" Clearly, it's a tricky thing mixing the dance music he often plays with the somber sentiments he inevitably brings with him from a life of expatriation and the ultimately successful effort to overcome apartheid. But on tracks that average ten minutes apiece, for the most part he and a talented band manage just that, presenting music from throughout his career, including a 14-plus minute version of his hit "Grazing in the Grass." By the end, still exhorting the audience to greater enthusiasm, he seems more energetic than anyone in the room.

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