Hugh Masekela - Almost like being in Jazz

2007-03-13 13:59
When Hugh Masekela first began recording and performing in America, jazz experts Leonard Feather and Stanley Crouch weren’t impressed with him and declared that his music wasn’t jazz.

Leonard Feather has since passed away. Masekela says of this material: “Now that (he’s) passed away, I feel it’s quite safe to come out of the closet and play some old classics without being harassed by their ghosts”. Bra Hugh might not be completely safe, as Stanley Crouch is still alive.

But just listening to this soothing, sublime, tasteful and rich set of classic ballads from giants like Charles Chaplin, Billy Holiday and Ira Gershwin is absolute bliss. Certainly none of those ghosts will be haunting him upon hearing this set.

Whether you’re a pseudo-lover of jazz, or the real pure jazz fanatic, you are guaranteed value for money as he’s also backed by his old time friends from the US: Larry Willis on piano, John Heard on Bass, Lorca Heart on drums and Stewart Levine on production.

Each instrument comes through naturally, giving the album an almost live feel. It doesn’t take a jazz purist to deduce that this is a finely mastered and sincerely felt re-recording of these classics.

Tracks that can easily become a haunt are the melodramatic and melancholic, “Don’t Explain” by Billy Holiday, the sweet “Smile” by Charles Chaplin and “You don’t Know What Love Is” by Gene DePaul. Masekela has not taken anything away from these ballads, he’s simply breathed new life into these timeless tunes with his piercing trumpet skills.

Almost like being in Jazz is a collection and celebration of classic masterpieces that Masekela and crew considered “beautiful and seldom performed”. They are intimate, slow instrumental ballads with no lyrics and no vocals to obliterate the depth of the tunes. This album will move you one way or another. It’s an experience! It IS being in JAZZ!

-Gugu Mkhabela
Flugelhorn player, Hugh Masekela, affectionately known as Bra Hugh to most South Africans, is a world class musician who many define as a living jazz legend. He’s collaborated with an array of musicians and has dabbled in most music genres, blowing audiences away every time.

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