Album Review

Batsumi – “Batsumi” – [Matsuli Music]

abacus   2/28/2012   CD, Jazz

Sowetan group started in 1972 by blind guitarist Johnny Mothopeng (son of imprisoned rebel leader), brother Lancelot Mothopengon keys and Zulu Bidi on bass. This is a reissue of the groups first full length 1974 LP and hits us like a message in a bottle, reminding us that we still don’t understand. Defiantly creative township jazz infected with a soulful psychedelia rich in reverb with mesmerizing loops compliments of bass, organ and guitar over which we hear echoing sonorities of sax and flute and entrancing chants all with a peppering of traditional percussion, bongos and modern drumset. Song titles harken to times past, bringing an ethnographic focus to their modern sound. This comes from a time and place when self-expression was considered radical and Steve Biko had calls for a radical reorientation of black culture towards political and mental liberation.

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