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Dudu PUKWANA – Diamond Express 1975

Posted in Dudu PUKWANA, JAZZ on November 25, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Dudu PUKWANA – Diamond Express 1975
FLP 41041


A follow-up to his extraordinary recording for Caroline, In the Townships, Diamond Express doesn’t quite reach those heights but provides measures of enjoyment on its own. Four of the five cuts feature, in addition to Pukwana, two of the musicians from the prior date, drummer Louis Moholo and the glorious trumpeter Mongezi Feza, who was to die prematurely shortly after this session. The remainder of the band on these pieces, however, is filled out by several musicians who operated more from the electric funk end of the spectrum than the acoustic-oriented township music which was Pukwana’s roots. They do a fine job pushing the band along, but one can’t help but desire an earthier, more natural-sounding rhythm section; the electric piano, for instance, sounds a bit out of place. Even so, the title cut has such a killer riff that it hardly matters; the melody carries the band effortlessly, making even the tinny electric piano sound OK. On other tracks, like “Madodana,” the clunkier aspects of the rhythm team drag things more than one would like to hear. “Tete and Barbs in My Mind” adds three stalwarts of the British improvising scene: Elton Dean on saxello, Nick Evans on trombone, and pianist Keith Tippett. This makes for the most adventurous outing of the set, one that combines spirited free playing with a lovely, dirge-like theme and is representative of the sort of music played at the time when the South African expatriates and British avant-jazzers joined forces. The closer, as befits its title, is a boppish affair, the formerly funky rhythm team settling with surprising ease into a hardcore jazz groove, giving Pukwana a chance to strut his Bird-roots on alto. Diamond Express may be something of a mixed bag and may never quite reach the ecstatic extremes of In the Townships, but overall it’s a fine date and a good chance to hear what this late, great musician was capable of.
By Brian Olewnick, All Music Guide.
Pukwana recorded two masterful acoustic tracks on the mostly electric album Diamond Express (Freedom 1977). His presence was also hugely felt in Moholo’s Spirits Rejoice!, and in Harry Miller’s Isipingo. Several African leaders invited him into their groups, including Hugh Masekela and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa’s African Explosion (Who, Ngubani 1969). In 1978, Pukwana founded Jika Records and formed his own band, Zila, featuring South Africans Lucky Ranku on guitar and powerful vocalist Miss Pinise Saul. Zila recorded Zila Sounds (1981), Live in Bracknell and Willisau (1983), and Zila (1986), the last with keyboardist Django Bates and Pukwana increasingly using soprano sax. In duo with John Stevens, he recorded the free session They Shoot to Kill (Affinity 1987), dedicated to Johnny Dyani. Dudu Pukwana died of liver failure in June 1990.
By Francesco Martinelli, All Music Guide.
Bass- Victor Ntoni (tracks: B2)
Bass [Bouble, Electric]- Ernest Mothole
Drums- James Mene
Drums, Percussion- Louis Moholo
Guitar- Lucky Ranko
Keyboards- Frank Roberts
Piano- Keith Tippett (tracks: B2)
Saxophone [Alto]- Dudu Pukwana
Saxophone [Saxello]- Elton Dean (tracks: B2)
Trombone- Nick Evans (tracks: B2)
Trumpet- Mongezi Feza
Recorded on two sessions at Island Studios, London, autumn 1975. This album is dedicated to Mongezi Feza (1945-1975).
A1. Ubaguile (See Saw)
A2. Diamond Express
B1. Madodana (The Young Ones)
B2. Tete And Barbs In My Mind
B3. Bird Lives

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