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Ndikho Xaba and The Natives (CD/LP, Matsuli Music, 2015)

Matsuli Music is all about very high standards with their reissues. If you follow our writings then you've discovered some killer South African Jazz albums by Dick Khoza, Batsumi or Sathima Bea Benjamin - check here to read the reviews and listen to the music if you haven't already.

The label's latest release is a new gem recorded in the US in 1971 from Ndikho Xaba and The Natives. When he was around 30 years old, South African jazz musician Ndikho Douglas Xaba played in Broadway and managed to find exile in the US, along with some fellow musicians who had come to New York to perform in King Kong, Philemon Hou and Caiphus Semenya. Ndikho and Semenya were taken under Miriam Makeba's wing. They were living in Harlem and Ndikho immersed himself in the New York jazz scene at the time. In the late 60s they moved to California where Ndikho quickly became involved in black politics…

You'll find in this historical record's booklet the full story on how Ndikho and the Natives was funded with saxophonist James ‘Plunky’ Branch in 1970, how they recorded this album during the politically radical and spiritually energised post-Civil Rights black social movements, how Ndikho used his music and his gigs as opportunities to expound on the political situation in South Africa, African culture and Pan-Africanism, and why "there is no other recording or group in which the new jazz spirituality of the late 1960s is so fully blent with an African jazz tradition that could look directly back into African culture for inspiration and power".

Chris Albertyn and Matt Temple of Matsuli Music have done an incredible job reissuing this LP. It took me months to write about it because I kept on listening to the record entirely, again and again, joyfully trying to grasp all of its sense and meaning! It's a pure mesmerizing delight for spiritual jazz fans.

Ndikho Xaba and The Natives
Ndikho Xaba and The Natives - s/t
(CD/LP) 1971, reissued by Matsuli Music, 2015-02-16

Tracklisting :
01. Shwabada 12:29
02. Freedom 02:41
03. Flight 02:53
04. Nomusa 08:47
05. Makhosi 02:57
06. Big Time (CD bonus track) 02:40
07. Zulu Lunchbag (CD bonus track) 02:21

Links :
Buy on bandcamp or on juno
Matsuli Music : bandcamp | discogs | facebook | parisdjs | soundcloud | twitter | youtube

Credits :
Ndikho Xaba - piano, percusion, bullhorn, seaweed horn
Plunky - tenor, soprano sax, flute, percussion
Lon Moshe - vibes, percussion
Duru - congas, percussion
Shabalala - bass
Kieta - drums
Arranged by Ndikho, produced by the Natives
Recorded and edited by Austin McCoy
Art conception by Nomusa Xaba
Original album design by Eddie Horan
Originally released on Trilyte Records
2015 edition produced by Matt Temple and Chris Albertyn of Matsuli Music under license from Ndikho Xaba
Liner notes by Francis Gooding
Recollections by J Plunky Blanch
Audio restoration by Colin at See Why Audio
Vinyl cut by Frank at The Carvery

Press Release :

Matsuli Music presents soul, spirituality and avant-garde jazz from South African political exile Ndikho Xaba. Its rarity has until now served to obscure both its beauty and its historical significance. Making profound links between the struggle against apartheid and the Black Power movement in the USA Ndikho Xaba and the Natives is arguably the most complete and complex South African jazz LP recorded in the USA. It stands out as a critical document in the history of transatlantic black solidarity and in the jazz culture of South African exiles. This reissue from Matsuli Music brings this collectors’ treasure back into print for the first time since 1971.

Ndikho Xaba and the Natives opens a fluid channel of sonic energy that courses between two liberation struggles and two jazz traditions, making them one. It is a critical statement in the history of transatlantic black solidarity, unifying voices stretching from San Francisco to Johannesburg. There is no other recording or group in which the new jazz spirituality of the late 1960s is so fully blent with an African jazz tradition.

The limited edition vinyl edition is presented with re-mastered sound in a gatefold sleeve containing unseen photographs and concert bills from Ndikho Xaba’s personal archive together with a personal recollection from Plunky Branch and extensive sleeve-notes written by Francis Gooding. The CD version reproduces this new content in a 24 page booklet as well including two additional tracks taken from a hard to find single released by Ndikho Xaba’s band African Echoes.


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