BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints has been widely credited for introducing western audiences to the treasures of African music. Yet, more than ten years before its release, Johnny Clegg and his bands Juluka and Savuka were creating authentic African music and delivering it from the source. assuring its authenticity. Sadly, not that much has been heard from Clegg and company in the interim, occasional releases notwithstanding.
That makesAt the Baxter Theatre Capetown – Best, Live & Unpluggeda terrific treat, not only for the opportunity to reconnect with Clegg — now working with a scaled back version of his band that’s branded simply with his surname — but also to revel once again in the gravitating pulse and inspiring sound that’s forever been Clegg’s stock and trade. The results provide for an evocative performance that’s been elevated and inspired by Africa’s fertile plains, music that mines imagery and imagination in equal measure. The titles say it all — “December African Rain,” “African Sky Blue,” “Circle of Light,” “Scatterlings of Africa” etc. — all sensual, soundscapes awash in precise harmonies, indelible rhythms, compelling melodies and chants that testify to the purity of purpose.
It makes no difference if there’s any awareness or appreciation for world music and its failure to achieve a mainstream mandate. When these percolating tempos start, the allure begins to beckon.
DOWNLOAD: “December African Rain,” “African Sky Blue,” “Scatterlings of Africa