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  Listen Up! 3/5/03 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Mar. 5

Various Artists, “Freedom Blues: South African Jazz Under Apartheid,” Music Club. An amazing collection of South African jazz with the typically frustrating limited liner notes of a Music Club release. Basically, it goes like this. South Africa has long had a tradition of jazz which interacts between American jazz and South African pop and folk elements. Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) is the most famous, and there’s a spectacular example of his early work included here. Hugh Masekela is also well known, and he turns up on a cut here, too. Then there are lots of names I’ve never heard before – Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi, Kippie Moeketsi, Imeko, the Jazz Epstles – who deliver some pretty impressive cuts as well. Stylistically, this is all over the map, which makes sense considering the source material is probably pulled from better than two decades. For some reason, despite the horrifying conditions of life under Apartheid, South Africa produced some of the most incredible music on the planet. This is just more of it.

--Steve Pick


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