Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Finding Moses Taiwa Molelekwa

Looks like Lady Luck is on my side because I have found another B&W CD of South African music.

By: Vanessa Uy

Moses Taiwa Molelekwa’s “Finding One’s Self” album might be dismissed by some jaded music critic as another work of a South African musician cashing in on the wake of the popularity of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album, but it’s hardly like that at all. Finding One’s Self, is a piano based jazz album whose backing musicians have a distinctively South African flavor especially the “choir’s” breathy vocals.

In this album, the backing musicians are somewhat dominating the proceedings. The interaction or vibe between Molelekwa and his back up reminds me of those 1950’s Southern Baptist Spiritual recordings where the choir and churchgoer’s singing drowns out the pedal steel guitar accompanying them.

Moses Taiwa Molelekwa is at his best during those rare “minimalist” moments where the other musicians take a “back seat.” Although it’s in these parts where, to me at least, he sounds like your typical Juilliard School of Music alumnus jazz pianist living in Brooklyn. It’s somewhat the same problem here in the Philippines when accomplished jazz musicians, tries to find gigs overseas to seek greener pastures. The best of them manage to wind up as session musicians for Sergio Mendes. Fortunate as that may be, their artistry suffers. Their playing is devoid of any Filipino influence whatsoever, no matter how good their musicianship skills are.

This is somewhat the same problem that to me at least; hinder Moses Taiwa Molelekwa from achieving his full creative potential. His style stretches way beyond the confines of his South African country and culture. He sounds less “African” than many of his contemporaries. Nonetheless this is still one enjoyable release from the company who also makes excellent sounding, low cost hi-fi speakers.

No comments: