Various ‘Duduvudu. The gospel according to Dudu Pukwana’ (Edgeton) 4/5

dudu-pukwanaSouth African saxophonist Dudu Pukwana passed away some twenty years ago, but his presence remains strong and, with a resurgence in interest in both South African jazz more generally, and in the historical legacy of the Blue Notes and Brotherhood of Breath formations more specifically, now is an opportune moment in time to celebrate and remember the recordings of these bands. Pukwana was indeed a key constituent part with reworkings of the more memorable compositions on which he performed providing the backbone to this new recording. An all-star tribute line up was initially recorded in London in November 2009 with additional tracks recorded thereafter in San Francisco and notably includes one of the last performances of trumpeter Harry Beckett who was of course part of the Brotherhood of Breath group and a relative of Johnny Dayani, Thomas, on percussion. Needless to say, Dudu Pukwana was an integral part of the legendary Blue Notes legacy and these included musicians of the calibre of Louis Moholo, Johnny Dyani, Mongezi Fexzzi and of course Chris McGregor who spent a good deal of his latter life exiled in Europe as did Pukwana and this writer witnessed a live Pukwana performance at a jazz and blues festival in the east of England in the early 1980s The bright and uplifting ‘Diamond Express’ starts off proceedings on the right positive footing and this features the electric piano of Darren Grant and some unison horns that conjure up the vibrancy of South African jazz to perfection. On a Johnny Dyani composition, ‘Portrait of Mosa Gwanga’, the repeated bass riff leads into an uptempo big band Latin number with some fine acoustic piano playing from guest musician Hadly Louden. Excellent and detailed sleeves notes on the deluxe digipak format fittingly round off this homage and they provide individual testimonies from the musicians on how the music of Dudu Pukwana and his contemporaries impacted on their lives.

Tim Stenhouse