Bheki Mseleku piano, tenor sax, vocals; Eddie Parker flute (tracks: 3, 7); Courtney Pine soprano sax (track 10); Steve Williamson soprano sax (track 4); Jean Toussaint tenor sax (track 5); Michael Bowie bass; Marvin Smith drums; Thebe Lipere percussion (track 10)
barabara sounds sez:
Bheki was a self-taught piano prodigy; diabetic, bipolar and missing some fingers; Mercury Music Prize nominated; recorded with Courtney Pine, Joe Henderson, Abbey Lincoln, Elvin Jones and Pharoah Sanders. An exile, a world citizen. All-time great. Much respect.
Update: nobody seemed to notice when I posted this back in October but never put up a link...
This time round the link will be there :–)
Bhekumuzi Hyacinth Mseleku, generally known as Bheki Mseleku (3 March 1955 – 9 September 2008) was a jazz musician from South Africa. He was a pianist, saxophonist, guitarist, composer and arranger who was entirely self taught.
Mseleku's father was a musician and teacher, and a Cambridge University music graduate, who had religious beliefs which prevented his children from ready access to the family's upright piano in case any of them should pursue something as "devilish" as music. His mother gave him the keys while his father was away, but the piano ended up as firewood one winters evening. During his childhood, Mseleku suffered the loss of the upper joints of two fingers in his right hand from a go-carting accident. He explained in a 1994 South Bank Show dedicated to him that this was wholly due to the restricted health care available to Black South Africans under Apartheid.
Born in Durban, South Africa, Bheki Mseleku had worked with musicians such as Don Cherry and had collaborated on the Cry Freedom soundtrack, before he gave up music for several years. The retreat did him a world of good because on his return he recorded Celebration, his debut solo album. Playing piano, tenor sax and singing, Mseleku produced a marvellous mix of African and Western jazz music. Mseleku's piano playing owes a lot to McCoy Tyner and fellow South African, Abdullah Ibrahim, and in his vocals he possesses a decent impassioned rhythm. Many of his solos are outstanding and the length of the record gives him and his fellow musicians a chance to explore the textures of South African jazz. The musicians include British sax players Courtney Pine, Jean Toussant and Steve Williamson and Americans Marvin Smith (drums) and Michael Bowie (bass). The mix of the three continents works well and results in a groove spiritual but never sombre. A celebration indeed.