The old saying "Birds of a feather flock together" has proved to be right once more, for on this record we hear five Jazz Birds who flew all the way from Cape Town to Johannesburg to tell us about spring in the Cape.
These Jazz Birds are all in their twenties. Phillip Schilder, twenty - Chris, his elder brother, twenty-two - Gilbert Matthews, twenty-four - Winston "Mankunku" Ngozi, twenty-five - and Garry Kriel, twenty-six. They are all from Cape Town except Gilbert, who comes from Port Elizabeth.
The opening tune on side one, "Spring", from which the LP takes its title, is a cool 32-bar which really makes you feel that it's springtime, when everything is recovering from a severe winter. It gives you that new feeling - the feeling that there's nothing better than whatever you've got at that moment.
On the flip side the Quintet opens with a tune called "The Birds", a tribute to the group itself. It reminds them of the old days when they used to practise from Monday to Monday, with no time to go for a good time and nothing to eat or drink but water. They decided to play it in free-form style so that each of them could express his feelings in order to remember the past, when they used to live like birds.
A report in "World", an African daily newspaper, said of the group "They say that wine flows freely in the Cape. This holds equally true about the Cape as far as hard-boiled Jazz Musicians are concerned. You'll never know what these people are cooking down there but once they hit the stage, you're sure you've got a winner on your hands."
A well-known disc jockey, Rashid by name, said after listening to an acetate of this recording "... MAN... thing change from time to time. This is now a different approach, most unusual as far as our local jazz is concerned. I think that our boys are really going places. This group's music is just FABULOUS."
When Mike Phahlane found me listening to this record in my office he said "Coltrane is dead, isn't he, Ray?... if I had walked in here not knowing who was playing I would not have hesitated to say it was the late Trane. This boy has got it. Man!... the way he blows, it's just Coltrane, Shepp, Dolphy and some of the other avant-gardists on the jazz scene today. Let's admit it, Ray, this young man has saved our jazz - it was stone cold dead. From Mankunku, where do we go? "Spring" is a beauty. As they play it you keep telling yourself things. Is Mankunku an extension of Parker and Trane? Call it a dream. But this dream is a beautiful one."
Yet another comment from a jazz fan who also had the opportunity of listening to the tapes: "Much can be said about Mankunku and his music... especially of late. It has taken time for this Giant of Jazz to receive the recognition he deserves. Voted Jazzking of the Year '68, I am certain that he will be appreciated much more than just an emulator of Trane. Listen to "Spring" and you will agree with me that this musician certainly knows the importance of metre and time in jazz, and he knows too that these features make jazz swing. ! think it is the best. It is great, it is lively and warm. He starts off on a Coltrane platform and delves deeply into Mankunku-Charles Lloyd, and at all times with the background of a Charles Lloyd carpet laid down by this magnificent trio, Chris Schilder, Phillip, his younger brother, and Gilbert Matthews. If you don't believe it, one listen and you'll write Chris Schilder and Mankunku a love letter." By the way, he refused to have his name mentioned. He prefers to be called J.J.
Well, get into the groove and swing along with the CHRIS SCHILDER QUINTET.
Liner notes by RAY NKWE
President of the Jazz Appreciation Society of South Africa
Recorded on November 22nd 1968 at the Herrick Merrill Studios, Johannesburg.
Recording Engineer PAUL WRIGHT
Supervised by LOUIS BOTHA
Produced by RAY NKWE
Photographs by RONNIE KWEYI
Cover design by JOHN BANNISTER
CHRIS SCHILDER QUINTET FEATURING MANKUNKU
This exceptionally rare LP was finally reissued on CD by Gallo Record Company in 1996, 2007. The CD features Mankunku's first two albums and is titled Yakhal' Inkomo after his first record—South Africa's best selling jazz record of all time. Spring is Mankunku's second and it's scarcity can be attributed to a fire at the EMI factory which destroyed the original master tapes.
Some of the additional liner notes by Rob Allingham for the CD version (CDGSP 3123) have been added to the image grid above.
For more about these albums click here.