Reviewing an album of South African music via a CD produced by a company who makes hi-fi speakers might sound like a tale you can only hear from a National Geographic Society meeting.
By: Vanessa Uy
Back in 1985, while working on his “Graceland” album. Paul Simon inevitably raised global awareness of the South African music scene. This gave bands like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Bundu Boys a chance to play in lucrative U.S. venues like in The Tonight Show With Jay Leno for example.
In Siphó Gumede’s “Down Freedom Avenue,” the album has a very distinct South African flavor especially on the up- tempo songs. Here the percussion style is enough even for the average world music punter to trace Gumede’s stylistic roots.
Even though much of the music in this album has an American jazz influence, I really loved this album’s apparent exoticness. Siphó Gumede using music as a medium has skillfully painted a picture of optimism of post-Apartheid South Africa. I hope B&W’s marketing department will make their South African music catalogues more widely available since I’ve luckily acquired this CD in a garage sale. Even my audio buddies want one. “Down Freedom Avenue” might as well be a good place as any to start your South African music exploration.