The Jazz Epistles

Short-lived South African jazz group that evolved from the Jazz In Africa session. A landmark 1959 recording session organized by John Mehagan (a visiting US pianist) that featured local musicians Hugh…
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Artist Biography

Short-lived South African jazz group that evolved from the Jazz In Africa session. A landmark 1959 recording session organized by John Mehagan (a visiting US pianist) that featured local musicians Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa and Kippie Moeketsi. When Mehagan returned to the USA the remaining members recruited pianist Dollar Brand and named themselves the Jazz Epistles. They recorded one well-received album, gave an acclaimed performance at the Gold Castle National Jazz Festival and then split up (Brand moving to Switzerland, Masekela and Gwangwa to the USA). Their album was deleted after a very limited initial release and became much sought after by fans of South African jazz.

The compilation Jazz In Africa Volume One issued by UK-based South African music specialists Kaz Records in 1992 (and subsequently reissued by Camden/BMG six years later), featured tracks from the Jazz Epistles album plus other Epistles related material. It showed a group of musicians who were obviously in love with the American modern jazz of artists such as Thelonious Monk, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and John Coltrane, but also beginning to forge a more distinctively South African sound which they would develop as individual artists over the coming decades.