Johnny Dyani

Witchdoctor's Son

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Since his arrival in England as a South African expatriate in the early '60s and as a member of the Blue Notes, bassist Johnny Dyani served as a powerful and creative component of innumerable ensembles (including those led by Abdullah Ibrahim and Chris McGregor) before releasing a series of albums under his own name in the late '70s and '80s. Witchdoctor's Son is certainly one of the best of these, featuring the wonderful dual reed frontline of John Tchicai and fellow ex-pat Dudu Pukwana. The pieces reflect Dyani's upbringing in the township style prevalent in South Africa, a joyous, surging music which seeks to transcend the horror of everyday life as experienced by the native majority. None of the compositions give a better example of this than the superb concluding number, "Magwaza," a traditional song arranged by Dyani with a grooving, elastic bassline that is absolutely irresistible and which provides fertile ground for inspired solos by Tchicai and Pukwana. Dyani would die far too early in 1986, but his warmth and utter musicality happily found expression in several small group recordings made in the prior ten years, of which Witchdoctor's Son is a sterling example. Highly recommended.

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