Sunday, November 30, 2008

One of my very favorite bassists ever, still very much unrecognized I'm afraid, Johnny Dyani. Original member of the Blue Notes, on a couple of fantastic Abdullah Ibrahim recordings, and leader of a handful of dates for Steeplechase, two of which are among the best late 70s jazz albums, imho.

'Witchdoctor's Son', with the great John Tchicai and the incendiary Dudu Pukwana (plus Alfredo do Nascimento/guitar, Luez Carlos de Sequaira/drums and Mohamed Al-Jabry/percussion) is just a wonderful date. Joyous tunes, vibrant playing, Dyani a master at propelling the ensemble. The closing "Magwaza" is one of those South African songs with such an infectious groove, it could go on for hours. Beautiful record; check it out.

Another fine effort, from 1978, a quartet with Pukwana, Don Cherry and drummer Makaya Ntshoko. Strong tunes, heartfelt playing, just a solid album,

I have four more releases under Dyani's name (Mbizo, Afrika, Born Under the Heat and Angolian Cry, all on Steeplechase aside from "Born...", which is on Dragon). To my ears, they get progressively weaker, partly perhaps because of less interesting personnel (though Angolian Cry has Tchicai, Beckett and Billy Hart), maybe Dyani himself running out of inspiration, maybe due to health issues (Dyani died in '86, short of his 41st birthday).

Would love to hear more, especially--I get the sense--work with fellow South Africans as that seems to bring out his best. Recommendations, as always, are appreciated.


Just checked and I'm frankly shocked that I can find an image of my next LP:

I'll listen later, though. (I think it fits nicely given my recent completion of the Cardew bio...)


Bret Sjerven said...

Check out Music For Xaba Vol. I & II. These came out in the '70s and feature Okay Temiz and Mongezi Feza. Will be hard to find on vinyl but you can get CDs of both at Downtown Music Gallery. Also, The Blue Notes box from Ogun has everything the band did while on the label.

Bret Sjerven

Brian Olewnick said...

Thanks, Bret. Any unheard Feza is worth checking out.

Brian Olewnick said...

Aha, just saw that very recording is featured at Destination Out this week...

Bret Sjerven said...

Just a coincidence. I saw that after I had responded to your post. Both volumes are great.