West Nkosi: Sixteen Original Sax Jive Hits (1991)
In the '60s and ‘70s, Nkosi was one of the chief practitioners of sax jive, a simple but danceable form of township music that married infectious sax riffs to percolating tribal rhythms. Sixteen Original Sax Jive Hits collects Nkosi’s biggest sax jive hits from 1965 though 1975.
If you’re a fan of Paul Simon’s Graceland album, you will likely enjoy Nkosi's jazz-pop instrumentals. His catchy riffs and bubbly grooves are an obvious precursor to Simon’s African-flavored output since the mid-'80s.
Bouncy as this collection is, listeners who favor the headiest jazz should probably steer clear. Nkosi’s music has a repetitive quality, and most of the 16 tunes do not include many solos, even from the sax man. Still, I bet most people will find this music incredibly catchy and soulful. I'll take a great riff over a self-absorbed solo any day, and this CD offers plenty of great riffs. Sax jive was conceived for the dancing and partying pleasure of township dwellers, and Nkosi’s groove-rich confections should set most legs to twitching. The absence of solos is fully compensated by the intricate rhythms, and the repetitive riffs seldom get annoying since each track is less than 3 minutes long.
Nkosi plays with several bands here. Each features alto sax, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums, and occasionally an organ, accordian or violin.
Sixteen Original Sax Jive Hits is just the ticket if you’re looking for some buoyant South African music to liven up a party. If you dig this one, I also recommend Nkosi’s 1993 release Rhythm of Healing: Supreme Sax and Penny Whistle, a classic of contemporary township jive.
Track Listing: 2 by 2; Two Mabone; Dubaduba; Mhlanga Rocks; Makhaza; QZ5; Mzilikazi; Benoni Station; Vula Bops; Durban Road; Percy Jive No. 1; Seven Mabone; Cowboy; Inhliziyo; Madula Shokeng Special; Izambhane
Personnel: West Nkosi (alto sax, melodica); Joseph Makwela, Jabu Zulu, James Mukwvho (bass); Marks Mankwane, Sipho Mthethwa, Marubini Jagome (guitar); Lucky Monama, Wilfred Mosebi, Eddie Ndzeru (drums) Vivian Ngubane, Christian Nombewu, Stephen Mukwevho (rhythm guitar); Mzwandile David, Delford Ngcemu (accordian); Lazurus "Kid" Moncho (organ); Noise Khanyile (violin); Jerry Mlotshwa (percussion); West Nkosi, Rupert Bopape (rap)
Record Label: Gallo Records