Since its inception, the SA label Matsuli Music have produced some superb reissues of SA jazz classics across decades, like the seminal Spring by The Ibrahim Khalil Shihab Quintet (1969), Black Disco’s Night Express(1976), Okay Temiz & Johnny Dyani’s Witdoctor’s Son (1976) or the aforementioned Genes and Spirits by Taiwa (1998).
Bheki Mseleku’s landmark debut album was released in 1992 on CD only and nearly three decades later finally sees its first vinyl issue.
An intensely spiritual man, his aim was to act as a pure channel for higher truths arising from sources beyond this world, and as an artist he always sought for the point at which all such designations dissolve into the voice of the universal.
“Music is the language of the soul. The voice, words, these are the language of the body. Music is older than words, these came with the body. But the language of the soul, that is music. The basis of everything is love. Love is a holistic, inseparable thing. Love belongs to love, it is conotated with all love. So the music in this recording is dedicated to global peace, to the changing of our consciousness to that of love, and awareness of the oneness of life.”
Upon reading this quote from Bheki Mseleku, it won’t be a surprise to hear that the track ‘Celebration’ is a huge Joe Claussell favourite and a bona fide classic at his cult Body & Soul party. In fact, this quote and the track are the perfect definitions for the aesthetic of a party dedicated for all things soulful and spiritual.
Self-taught on every instrument he played, Mseleku was for a time the main force behind the radically forward thinking SA fusion outfit Spirits Rejoice. While in NYC he was given by Alice Coltrane (!) the saxophone mouthpiece that John Coltrane had used during the recording of A Love Supreme (!!). Coltrane was one of the few artists whom Mseleku felt had the same esoteric and spiritual focus as himself. After being forced to leave South Africa for Europe in 1980, Mseleku struggled for nearly a decade before being able to record his debut, with the help of the Jazz Warriors network and following seminal gigs at London’s Ronnie Scott, Vortex and Jazz Cafe. Celebration was recorded in three days and became an instant classic, on which Coltrane’s spirited influence is felt, acknowledged ('Supreme Love’) and incorporated within Mseleku’s SA jazz sensibility.
A remarkably cohesive effort which sounds altogether complex and effortless, Celebration is a true spiritual and modal jazz masterpiece, now available in its full audiophile glory.
Listen to 'Celebration': https://tinyurl.com/2x459s2s