Bheki MselekuIn 1987, the late Ronnie Scott Ronnie Scott (January 28 1927 – December 23 1996) was a British jazz tenor saxophonist and jazz-club owner. Life and career
Born Ronald Schatt in East London, Scott began playing in small jazz clubs at the age of sixteen. (never the most energetic of PRs, even for his own establishment) broke his usual code of leaving the jazz media alone, and took to ringing journalists up to tell them about Bheki Mseleku, the self-taught Natal-born pianist, saxophonist, guitarist and singer, who has died of diabetes at the age of 53. Wearied by the torments of South Africa's apartheid regime, the gifted Mseleku had turned up in London in the mid-1980s after a spell on the Stockholm jazz scene, and Scott had taken a gamble on encouraging a gifted young newcomer who was almost unknown in the UK at the time.
Mseleku performed unaccompanied un·ac·com·pa·nied
1. Going or acting without companions or a companion: unaccompanied children on a flight.
2. Music Performed or scored without accompaniment. on those gigs, and he was mesmerising. Often meditatively playing piano and tenor saxophone The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax. It is perhaps the most well known of all saxophones and is a transposing instrument, pitched in the key of B♭, and written as a transposing instrument in the simultaneously (the latter cradled on his lap), he unveiled a subtly glowing blend of African township music, church music, eastern meditative chants and boppish bop·pish
In the style of bop music: "a spirited boppish essay, full of harmonic twists and darting single-note runs" Washington Post. city-streets jazz. Like his fellow countrymen Hugh Masekela Hugh Ramopolo Masekela (b. Witbank, South Africa, April 4, 1939) is an South African trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, composer, and singer. Masekela is an acknowledged master of African music. Biography
He began singing and playing piano as a child. and Abdullah Ibrahim Abdullah Ibrahim (born 9 October 1934 in Cape Town, South Africa), formerly known as Adolph Johannes Brand, and as Dollar Brand, is a South African pianist and composer. before him, Mseleku was eventually to make an international impact, performing with some of jazz's biggest stars. In a career hampered at times by physical and mental difficulties, Mseleku nonetheless achieved much - but his work constantly suggested great musical achievements still to be resolved. He believed in a musical world in an afterlife, but in this one those possibilities have now ended with his death in London.
After the remarkable first appearance at Ronnie Scott's, Mseleku's reputation seemed about to explode - and his friend and fellow musician, the late South African guitarist Russell Herman, worked tirelessly to bring that about. Mseleku found himself feted, not only among such London-based South Africans This is a list of notable South Africans with Wikipedia articles. Academics, Medical and Scientists
He formed The Blue Notes with Chris McGregor, and emigrated to Europe with them in 1964, eventually settling in London, where he formed part of a South African exile community that made , and younger UK players such as Courtney Pine Courtney Pine (born 18 March 1964) is a British jazz musician. At school he studied clarinet, although he is known primarily for his saxophone playing. Pine is a multi-instrumentalist, also playing the flute, clarinet and keyboards. and Steve Argüelles, but by international bass-star Dave Holland's sidemen, particularly drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, who marvelled at the new prodigy on their trips to London and were later to record with him.
But, typically, the fragile Mseleku backed away at first, retiring for two years of occasional teaching and contemplation in a Buddhist temple, with no phone, and no piano. He was to tell me at that time: "I feel if I evolve spiritually, the music will have more depth. Maybe even from one note, like Pharoah [Sanders] does."
It was almost as if Mseleku wanted to become music itself, rather than a practitioner of it - the journalist John Matshikiza wrote of him: "Bheki has always shied away from labels like 'black', 'exile', 'South African', 'jazz' or even 'pianist'."
In 1992, however, Mseleku signed up to Nick Gold's World Circuit record label to make his debut album, Celebration, and he also recorded the reflective Meditations, live at that year's Bath International Music Festival The Bath International Music Festival is England's largest international music festival.
Inaugurated in 1948, the festival, in Bath, South West England, has an illustrious artistic history and has long been a well-established event of national significance and international . The following year, Polygram picked him up for the Verve label, and Mseleku's album Timelessness was launched as a star-studded affair, including cameo roles for singing legend Abbey Lincoln, saxophonists Joe Henderson This article is about the jazz saxophonist. For other uses, see: Joe Henderson (disambiguation)
Joe Henderson (April 24, 1937 - June 30, 2001) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. and Sanders (Mseleku was later to join Henderson's touring band), and percussion giant Elvin Jones.
Mseleku's strong American influences were in harmonious balance with his South African ones on this session. But the most memorable moments were the most personal and autobiographical ones, in the African vocal harmonies of Vukani (Wake Up) and the piano-trio meditations of Looking Within.
Despite being entirely self-taught, Mseleku was the most technically sophisticated of jazz musicians This is a list of jazz musicians on whom Wikipedia has articles. Some of the most notable jazz musicians
He was born in Durban, and originally learned to play on a family piano that his father William used to lock up in his absences - but Mseleku's mother, Elvira, would secretly give Bheki and his older brother Langa the key. Eventually, Mseleku Sr realised the talents of his sons, and the piano was released.
In 1975, when he was 20, Bheki began playing R&B organ in Johannesburg, and then joined multi-instrumentalist Philip Tabane's popular Malombo group. Touring with Tabane, he discovered a world outside apartheid's violent laws. Mseleku (who believed in former lives, including an earlier one as a musician), began to reformulate Verb 1. reformulate - formulate or develop again, of an improved theory or hypothesis
formulate, explicate, develop - elaborate, as of theories and hypotheses; "Could you develop the ideas in your thesis" his notion of "home", coming to perceive it as being about personal relationships and shared music, rather than any geographical location. He left South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. then, living from 1980 to 1983 in Stockholm (playing occasionally with celebrated trumpeter Don Cherry Don Cherry may be:
The early 1990s embrace of Mseleku's talents by the media and the record industry (and the brief, media-driven "jazz boom" it was part of) did not last, but the South African made two more albums for Verve. The trio album Star Seeding was with Ornette Coleman's former bass/drums parnership of Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins (1995), and Beauty of Sunrise (1995) with another all-star band including Jones and the late John Coltrane's saxist son Ravi.
Connections like these resonated with Mseleku, for whom Coltrane's and McCoy Tyner's phrasing were much bigger direct influences than, for instance, for the more traditionally African Ibrahim.
But in 2003, back in post-apartheid South Africa, Mseleku delivered the music that was perhaps closest to his roots. Home at Last featured classy local musicians, and the programme was devoted to the locations and legendary performers (some of them passed into a next world where Mseleku was sure he would one day play with them again) that had shaped this complex artist's development. Matshikiza wrote of Home at Last: "It is his eternally original spin on the music, the music of the land, the mountains, the people, the cities, the politics, the sensual violence of the blistered townships, as much as the infinitely distant music of the spheres, which he has brought us closer to in his earlier albums, that drives you through to the final beat. This is 'home' on Bheki's terms at last."
Mseleku had returned to England to find more regular work in 2006, and though his severe diabetes sometimes hampered his playing life and worsened last spring, it seemed to be under control.
He was about to go back to South Africa for concerts, including a gig at Johannesburg's Bassline A bassline (also spelled bass line) is the term used in many styles of popular music, jazz, blues, trance and funk for the low-pitched instrumental part or line played by a rhythm section instrument such as the electric bass, double bass or keyboard (piano, Hammond organ, club, at the time of his death. He is survived by a wide extended family including his brother Langa, his sister Millicent, and seven children.
· Bheki Mseleku, jazz musician, born March 3 1955; died September 9 2008