The indefatigable Hugh Masekela, South Africa's trumpeter/balladeer extraordinaire, begins his superb new release, No Borders with a typical Masekela anthem, Shuffle & Bow. He shouts, he charms, he bellows. If you're listening to him for the first time (difficult, after he's been in the business 73 years), it's an experience you're likely not to forget.
Masekela is not afraid to take risks - melodically, harmonically, with the lyrics or song's structure.
The fifteen tracks are infused with Afro pop/Jazz rhythms and style.
Like all great musicians, Masekela surrounds himself with excellence. Included on the album are Kabomo, Jazz guitarist Kunle Ayo, Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi, Congolese Singer and Songwriter Tresor Riziki and also features Hugh's son and nephew Sal & Selema Masekela.
Every song is unique in style, if not key. I wish he'd mix up the tonality a little. A small complaint.
Been Such a Long Time meanders like a long South African train journey. It's hypnotic.
Shango brings us into the pop world with catchy riffs and oddly shaped vocals.
Masekela is a very fine trumpet player -- Royal Academy and Manhattan School of Music trained. Let's just say he is an 'effective' singer. Especially so on the freewheeling introduction to Congo Women. No borders on this track.
More pop territory on One of These Days. A very effective song with Masekela's charismatic vocals. And then he plays a trumpet chorus of such musicality. What a player he is. On this track he sounds like Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown and Satchmo all in one.
KwaZulu is plain fun. He's almost out of control, but that's what makes it so enjoyable. Great guitar work, too.
I loved In An Age, more akin to Earth Wind and Fire than African anthems. And played so well by the band.
You'll get your money's worth with No Borders. Almost 80 minutes of the most diverse, culturally significant sounds this side of Cape Town. The music is instructive, thrilling, shocking, funny and above all superemely musical.
And the bonus for audiophiles is the recording is superb. Deep bass and the sound of African percussion captured beautifully. If you know the Burmester Test CD, you'll know of Masekela's work. No Borders continues excellence in recording. Best of all, the recording highlights the party atmosphere of the original sessions. You can't get better than that. Highly recommended.
01. Shuffle & Bow
02. Been Such a Long Time
04. Congo Women (feat. Tresor, Dice Makgothi & Kabomo)
05. The Rooster (feat. Themba Mokoena)
06. One of These Days
07. KwaZulu (feat. Themba Mokoena)
08. In an Age (feat. Alekesam)
09. Makeba (feat. Themba Mokoena)
10. Heaven In You (feat. J'Something)
11. Don't Go Lose It Baby (feat. Dice Makgothi)
12. Tapera (feat. Oliver Mtukudzi)
14. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (feat. Khanyo)
Year Of Release: 2016
Label: Universal Music (South Africa)
Total Time [79:29]