UNION ARTISTS PRESENT THE ORIGINAL CAST OF MR. PALJAS
STARRING DANNY JOSEPHS
The time: not so long ago - and, on a chill dawn somewhere on the Cape coast, fishermen sadly sing Daeraad as they trek their poorly-filled nets.
Paljas a bergie in search of warmth and shelter for the coming winter, passes by on his way to Abraham's Bay - a fishing village that has fallen on bad times. The catches have been poor and the fishing company is pulling out. With Paljas is an out-of-work fisherman, Fernando, whom Paljas threatens to "trade in" at Abraham's Bay - once he has beguiled the villagers with his tricks into allowing them to stay. Fernando doesn't think much of the place but is persuaded by Tina, daughter of the village teacher, to Stick Around. Paljas sets to work to charm everyone. He overcomes the doubts of Cookie by telling him to forget the bad times and carry on with his plans to marry Sophia.
The fishing company pulls out, its lorries loaded with machinery but, as Paljas points out, they forget the boats - which ought to be "borrowed" and not left to bang against the jetty and grow rusty; and so - To the Boats! which have been newly painted to outsmart the fish. With the fishermen away the lonely wives, in a flight of mischievous fancy, decide that there are More Fish in the Sea. During this time school discipline has become a shambles, but Mr. Paljas teaches the kids that things will change One Bright Day.
Then to everyone's surprise the boats come back loaded deck and hold with a miraculous catch of Fish Galore!
Abraham's Bay, now bright and prosperous, is visited by three tramps and, with everyone busy catching and selling fish, this "ragged bunch of muffins" are appointed to the Village Management Board. Their first project is to build a Lighthouse in the Sky. They start making numerous blueprints, imposing taxes, and generally growing too big for their tattered boots. They break up the old-style picnic where everyone is singing the Ghoema in celebration of the birthday of Martha. She is everyone's confidante and helper in the village and also the object of the Teacher's marathon courtship. When he produces his own blueprint he and Martha are surprised to find that love is Unpredictable.
The three tramps meanwhile have made the lives of the villagers miserable with permits, taxes, rules and regulations. A revolt against the tramps is cleverly turned against Paljas - so the angry crowd throws him out - and it's Goodbye Paljas.
Fernando however is making headway with Tina, the loskop flirt of the village, and she admits: "I miss you so - When you're at sea". The tramps happily conduct an auction of Rock Lobster but their sweet days as spongers on the fisherfolk are numbered. A mysterious "official" fools everyone for the last time and restores their fortunes to the happy villagers who Sing Tomorrow.
Mr. Paljas leaves Abraham's Bay having traded in Fernando for Kriekie, the waif who sleeps wherever there happens to be a nice cooking smell.
Music Direction Arrangements
CHRIS McGREGOR, STANLEY GLASSER
Set conceived by
DOREEN and FRANK GRAVES
LAURIE VAN DER MERWE
GERRY ARENDSE (1st Fisherman), LESLIE CARELSE, CYRIL JULIE, MICHAEL GRATIAN, ALEX KANNEMEYER, COLENSO MAMA, RICHARD MANUEL, AUBREY MATHABATHE, COSMO PIETERSE, GEORGE TAU, ALY TOFFA.
ESTHER PARKINS, MARIE MATSOLO, BETTY NTENGO, JOAN FREDERICKS, RHODA SOKUTU, DINAH GOLIATH, TANDIE KLAASEN.
EDRIES SAMUELS (1st child), AUBREY DAVIDS, DESMOND LEGGETT DESIREE PFAFF, PEDRO PFAFF, PETRONELLA PFAFF, JOHN PHILLIPS.
DAERAAD (Daybreak) — First Fisherman and chorus
PALJAS — Mr. Paljas and chorus
STICK AROUND — Tina, Fernando and chorus
SOPHIA — The Company
TO THE BOATS — The Company
MORE FISH IN THE SEA — Sophia, Martha, Tina and Fisherwomen
ONE BRIGHT DA — Mr. Paljas
FISH GALORE! — The Company
OVERTURE TO ACT II — The Orchestra
LIGHTHOUSE IN THE SKY — The Tramps and Chorus
GHOEMASONG — Cookie and Chorus
UNPREDICTABLE — Martha and Teacher
GOODBYE PALJAS — Mr. Paljas and chorus
WHEN YOU'RE AT SEA — Tina and Fernando
ROCK LOBSTER — Third Tramp and Chorus
SING TOMORROW — The company
Recorded at Manley van Niekerk Studios, Cape Town
Mr. Paljas is possibly the first long playing record to feature two members of the legendary group—The Blue Notes—Chris McGregor and Dudu Pukwana. Recorded in January of 1962 the album also features a number of other musicians who would perform later that year in October at the historic Cold Castle National Jazz Festival in Moroka - Jabavu including Blythe Mbityana, Dennis Mpali of the Jazz Dazzlers as well as McGregor and Pukwana. These four would also record Jazz—The African Sound with McGregor's Castle Lager Big Band, the following year in 1963.
Chris McGregor and Dudu Pukwana, along with Johnny Dyani, Nick Moyake, Mongezi Feza and Louis Moholo, made their first recordings as the Blue Notes for the SABC in early 1964. They would make one other live recording in Durban before leaving South Africa permanently in July of 1964—the political climate there too hostile for an integrated band.
For more detail on the Mr. Paljas album see the post at Electric Jive.
For more on the Blue Notes view Mike Fowler’s fantastic website on the group.
Thanks to Warren Siebrits for making this album available to me.