Transcription Feature Service Ltd., in association with '77' Records, presents:
KWELA BY GWIGWI'S BAND
Kwela is the popular dance-music of the South African townships. It is the folk-music of urban South Africa, and has developed from tribal origins with the growth of the towns themselves. The tunes can be heard being sung or whistled all over the African townships by adults and children, and there is no festive occasion or Saturday night gathering where this unique swinging music does not form an integral part. In the early '50s at the time of the first 'African Jazz' shows, Kwela was recorded and imported from South Africa for the first time by people like Zakes Nkosi, Spokes Mashiyane and Lemmy Special, the penny-whistle virtuoso. It is the music that made Miriam Makeba famous; the 'Black Panther' from South Africa who has sung with Harry Belafonte's Band and is known throughout America and Europe for her famous 'click-song'.
Gwigwi's Band is composed of four South Africans who have settled in London. Gwigwi Mrwebi himself comes from Johannesburg and has been playing kwela on his alto-sax for many years. He first came to the U.K. with the pit-band of the musical 'King Kong', and was later joined by his wife and son and daughter. The other alto-sax is played by Dudu Pukwana from Port Elizabeth, who also arranged all the songs. He is a very talented jazz musician and came to London in a modern jazz group, the Blue Notes led by Chris McGregor from Cape Town. It is Chris who plays piano on this record. The tenor-saxophonist, Ronnie Beer from Cape Town, was also a member of the Blue Notes. They are accompanied by Coleridge Goode from Jamaica, on bass, and Laurie Allan from London, on drums.
Photography: JOHN GOLDBLATT. Production: DOUG DOBELL.
Made in England
77 RECORDS. 77, Charing Cross Road, London, W.C.2. GER 4197
Printed in England by Clout and Baker Limited
Good News: (Dudu Pukwana) Solo by Dudu Pukwana.
Nyusamkhaya: (Dudu Pukwana) Solo by Dudu Pukwana.
Lily Express: (Gwigwi Mrwebi) Solo by Gwigwi Mrwebi.
Rough Deal: (Gwigwi Mrwebi) Solo by Gwigwi Mrwebi.
Kwazakhele: (Dudu Pukwana) Solo by Ronnie Beer.
Mini Mthembo: (Dudu Pukwana) Solo by Gwigwi Mrwebi.
Hayini Bo: (Dudu Pukwana) Solo by Dudu Pukwana.
Nick Thethe: (Dudu Pukwana) Dedicated to two South African jazz musicians, Nick Moyake and Thethe Mbambiso.
Mra: (Dudu Pukwana) For tenor-saxophonist Christopher Columbus Ngcukana. Solo by Dudu Pukwana.
Kweleentonga: (Dudu Pukwana) Solo by Dudu Pukwana.
Botyana: (Dudu Pukwana) Solo by Dudu Pukwana.
Ndaqmbayo: (Gwigwi Mrwebi) Solo by Chris McGregor.
Zangomva: (Gwigwi Mrwebi) Solo by Chris McGregor.
Zobongo: (Dudu Pukwana) Solo by Dudu Pukwana.
Kefeketle: (Gwigwi Mrwebi) Solo by Chris McGregor.
Ezindongeni: (Gwigwi Mrwebi) Solos by Gwigwi Mrwebi and Chris McGregor.
This classic and hard to find record on Doug Dobell's 77 Records label was finally reissued as Mbaqanga Songs by Honest Jons in 2006. The extensive reissue liner notes elaborating on the history of the group and the label can be viewed at the Honest Johns website. The track Nyusamkhaya is also featured on the Honest Jons compilation: London is the Place for Me 2.
For some time I have guessed that the original issue of this record is the one pictured in the image grid above. However I have found evidence of at least two other pressings (compare labels above). I suspect the orange/red labels are the originals and the differences between them could potentially be attributed to multiple presses. If you know which is the original send me an email.
Early material on 78 rpm by Gwigwi Mrwebi can be viewed on the compilation album Jazz and Hot Dance in South Africa 1946 - 1959). For more on Dudu Pukwana, Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes view Mike Fowler’s fantastic website on the group.