Hugh Masekela

Time

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Since his return to South Africa in 1990, Hugh Masekela has become a national musical icon. And his music has taken on more of the flavor of his homeland, too, all of which is quite in evidence on Time. Of course, this being Masekela, he's not going to be penned into one style, as he shows on "Conchita," his bubbling celebration of Latin music, which name-checks every icon of the genre. But it's township jazz that's always been at the backbone of his sound, and it's there in his revisiting of "Part of a Whole," which he first recorded over 30 years ago. Even if it's township lite these days, more accessible than the real hardcore stuff, there's no doubt his heart is very much in the right place. He's not afraid to be political, either, touching on civil rights, dictators, and reminding people that an older generation hasn't necessarily lost touch with enjoying the pleasures of the world. From South African gospel to the slightly rougher feel of mbaqanga, and even the more contemporary kwaito (South Africa's disco-fied version of hip-hop) on "Old People, Young Folks," this album keeps its feet on the ground at home. About the only thing missing is that Masekela focuses more on his gritty, warm vocals, rather than his excellent trumpet playing. But he seems happy enough with that, and the sense of jubilation surrounding the disc glows peacefully.

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