“Hugh Masekela creates an instant party, leading from vocals and flugelhorn like a South African Louis Armstrong.” (Guardian)
The two iconic South African jazz legends Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela reunite and perform on the same stage for the first time in 56 years. They come together for a historic concert to tell the story of The Jazz Epistles, the first all-black jazz group in South Africa and arguably the most important jazz (bebop) recording in the country’s history. This music was almost lost forever — only 500 copies were pressed in 1959, buried, and rediscovered decades later after the tyranny of apartheid.
Jazz symbolized what the white nationalist government feared most: the social mixing of racial groups. The government’s prohibition of jazz spawned secret listening parties, and the Sharpeville massacre ultimately destroyed the musicians’ hopes of a national tour when the apartheid government outlawed gatherings of more than 10 people, forcing the ensemble into exile. These giants of South Africa perform music from the seminal Jazz Epistles recording alongside music from both of their illustrious careers.
Abdullah Ibrahim, piano
Hugh Masekela, trumpet and flugelhorn
Cleave Guyton, alto saxophone, flute, and clarinet
Lance Bryant, tenor saxophone
Marshall McDonald, baritone saxophone
Andrae Murchison, trombone and trumpet
Noah Jackson, cello and bass
Will Terrill, drums