Hugh Masekela – The Americanization of Ooga Booga (The Lasting Impressions Of Ooga Booga) (1966)

OriginalFrontCover1The Americanization of Ooga Booga is an album by South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The album is a blend of American jazz themes and traditional South African musical influences. It was recorded live in November 1965 at The Village Gate night club in New York City and released in June, 1966 via MGM Records label. MGM’s president was convinced that Masekela’s albums were too African for American tastes, so soon after Masekela moved to Chisa/Blue Thumb labels.The Americanization of Ooga Booga is an album by South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The album is a blend of American jazz themes and traditional South African musical influences. It was recorded live in November 1965 at The Village Gate night club in New York City and released in June, 1966 via MGM Records label. MGM’s president was convinced that Masekela’s albums were too African for American tastes, so soon after Masekela moved to Chisa/Blue Thumb labels.
Verve Records re-released the album in 1996 as a CD named The Lasting Impression of Ooga-Booga, adding five more tracks from his 1968 album The Lasting Impression of Hugh Masekela. (by wikipedia)

HughMasekela02Getting Americanization of Ooga Booga released was evidently akin to pulling teeth, because MGM Records’ president was convinced it would be a bomb — what Hugh Masekela and his band had played at this early 1965 gig at the Village Gate was jazz, but it was too African-based for American tastes, or so the label chief maintained. What he missed was the infectious joy woven through every note of music here, which was enough to carry any kind of music from anyplace in the world over any unfamiliar patches, including the language, melodies, references to events, and places on the other side of the world; if this was to be New Yorkers’ (and the recording world’s) introduction to South African music, it was made incredibly genial and accessible, even from a jazz standpoint. The influence of Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard can be heard, along with McCoy Tyner in the playing of pianist Larry Willis, and he shows his debt to John Coltrane as an inspiration on “Mixolydia” as well as his affinity for Brazilian music on “Mas Que Nada.” But the core sound was what Masekela called “township bop” — his short trumpet bursts, sometimes seemingly approaching microtonal territory, are engrossing celebrations of the melodies of his repertory, which is mostly of South African origin (including a pair written by his then-wife, Miriam Makeba).

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Among the latter, the opening number, “Bajabula Bonke,” aka “Healing Song,” got its first airing on record here — it would later receive a bolder performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, comprising one of that event’s numerous musical highlights, but where that later performance streaked and soared, this one starts out slowly and quietly, exquisitely harmonized and rising gradually and gently like a glider catching rising winds; it’s impossible to fully appreciate the Monterey performance without hearing this one. With Herbie Hancock’s “Cantelope Island” providing one firm reference point in the American jazz idiom, the set really wasn’t that removed from 1965 listeners, as its stronger-than-expected sales proved. (by Bruce Eder)

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As we all knew, Hugh Masakela died on  23 January 2018

Taken from the official website:

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Personnel:
Hal Dotson (bass)
Henry Jenkins (drums)
Hugh Masekela (cornet, flugelhorn, vocals)
Larry Willis (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Bajabula Bonke (Healing Song) (M.Makeba) 8.06
02. Dzinorabiro (The Good Old Days) (M.Makeba) 5.38
03. Unhlanhla (Lucky Boy) (A,Makeba) 5:01
04. Cantelope Island (Hancock) 5.30
05. U-Dwi (Song To My Mother) (Masekela) 5.26
06. Masquenada (Ben) 7.43
07. Abangoma (Song of Praise) (M.Makeba) 4.04
08. Myxolydia (Masekela) 7.01
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09. Con Mucho Carino (With Much Love) (Willis) 4.41
10. Where Are You Going? (Masekela) 7.43
11. Moroloa (Masekela) 5.07
12. Bo Masekela (Semenya)
13, Unohilo (The Bird, aka Ntyilo, Ntyilo) (Salenga) 6.49

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Hugh Ramapolo Masekela (4 April 1939 – 23 January 2018)

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