Various Artists

Archive Africa: From Jazz to Jive

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This collection of jazz from the South Africa of the '50s and '60s will probably be a disappointment to those seeking a collection of township jazz, which is not saying that this isn't excellent. The fact is that, for the most part, this is pretty straight hard bop played by South Africans. A few big names appear here: Barney Rachabane, Chris McGregor & the Blue Notes, and Dollar Brand (performing a Duke Ellington tune), but most are not as well-known. There are several tracks that stand out here, simply by virtue of not being straight hard bop. "Walking Bass" and "The Rock" are both guitar-led, featuring some rough but exciting guitar soloing. "Umthandazo" has an interesting tom-tom beat, and "Londons Burning" sounds like a weird Africanized "Frere Jacques" rondo. The rest is all well played (and/or sung), but is only African jazz in the geographic sense, not in a musical sense. Even so, this is an excellent snapshot of the time.

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