Various Artists

Natural Jazz

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An album from Wrasse that tracks the development of jazz in America and South Africa more or less simultaneously. South Africans were to become huge fans of jazz after American prospectors brought the music there early in the century, and perhaps more importantly as an integral part of the successful African-American lifestyle shown by Louis Armstrong (able to integrate successfully with whites, which blacks were unable to do in apartheid years). The album generally alternates between American and African songs, showing the similarities to a degree. The American jazz displayed is largely the standard vocal jazz and big-band combinations from prior to the bebop revolution. The African jazz is the same, but shows a few other components. Miriam Makeba's "Back of the Moon" gives a straightforward piece of vocal jazz with the big-band accompaniment of the Manhattan Brothers. Thomas Mabiletsa's form of piano jazz is somewhat more interesting, as he melds Zulu musical concepts with ragtime. Some work from a teenage Hugh Masekela shows up in the Father Huddleston Band's "Mdenzeni Na?," and Dolly Rathebe, an Ella Fitzgerald protégée, performs a piece as well. The Elite Swingsters toss in a song, as do the Jazz Dazzlers (a later band with Masekela), showing off the shouting trumpet work that had been big in America previously with the likes of Roy Eldridge. The rest of the album is dominated by female vocalists from both countries, performing some of their signature numbers. Overall, the music is relatively tame, but entirely well-performed in all respects. This is all pre-bop being performed, with a touch of the samba influence here and there. It's outstanding music throughout, but the real treat is the comparison that's being made for the listener with the development lines of jazz in two locations simultaneously

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:41
2 3:01
3 2:31
5 5:53
6 2:51
7 4:08
8 2:34
10 3:58
11 3:03
12 2:32
13 3:37
14 2:38
15 2:31
16 3:05
17 2:54
18 3:47
19 2:47
20 2:22
22 5:40
blue highlight denotes track pick