With a mix of smooth contemporary jazz, Afro-beat, and world music, Beatin' Aroun de Bush is a highly accessible presentation of Hugh Masekela's flügelhorn expertise, as well as a visit to his South African homeland. This album was completed as his native country was voting to abolish apartheid, and the music contained herein is at times mellow and melancholy, but mostly celebratory. Masekela sings and chants, blows sweet phrases on his horn, and the whole band contributes to the rhythmic pulse with surprising instrumental accents and unexpected musical flourishes. The pop covers, Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" and Michael Jackson's "Rock with You," are enjoyable, but it's the African pieces "Batsumi," "Languta," "U-Mama," and the political title track that are the heart and soul of this recording. "Sekunjalo" is reminiscent of Masekela's 1968 pop hit "Grazing in the Grass." Sonically, Beatin' Aroun de Bush soars from start to finish thanks to Richard Druz's glistening production.
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AllMusic Review by Jim Newsom