barabara sounds sez:
Who knew you could make such joyful sounds on a pennywhistle? Nobody, until Spokes came along. He even developed a whole new way of playing the instrument. This is the classic sound that emanated from the townships in those vibrant early years of S.African jazz. Yeah, I like it a lot (though I'm not so keen on that dark, dour cover)!
Bouncy South African pennywhistle, or kwela, music from the leader of the Solven Whistlers, and frequent early collaborator with Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks. Mashiyane pretty much made the pennywhistle a popular sound, and few people could match him for the expressiveness he brought to such a seemingly limited instrument. For an all-instrumental album highlighting a fairly oddball sound, this disc is far more captivating than one might imagine. Recommended!
from the sleeve notes:
Born in Northern Transvaal, Spokes spent his days tending his father's cattle and, to while away the long hours, he tried his hand at the primitive African reed flute... [Later in Johannesburg] one of his first acquisitions was a genuine penny whistle – costing 4s.6d! ...The design of the South African penny whistle is the same as that throughout the world but, by placing the mouthpiece vertically against the side of his left cheek and by introducing an entirely new fingering system, he was able to produce a roundness of tone hitherto unknown with this limited musical instrument.
Some good background on Spokes and Kwela music here at the National Geographic...
And there a great post of Spokes' Sweet Sax, Sweet Flute up at electric jive...