Peter Bacon reports:
He’s not as well known as Masekela or Ibrahim, but his achievements and influence have been considerable. Which is why his music is being celebrated at the Vortex Jazz Club on Saturday 29 June. As the blurb explains:
“One of the first wave of major jazz artists to leave South Africa in the early ’60s, vocalist, composer and saxophonist Caiphus Semenya – who turns 80 in August – settled in the United States where he achieved considerable success as a musical director, composing for films and sessions and working with many great artists including Cannonball Adderley, Lou Rawls, Nina Simone and Quincy Jones.
“For all his success (which includes the long history of collaboration with the hugely talented vocalist Letta Mbulu to whom he has been married since the early 60s ) many Caiphus Semenya compositions have yet to achieve their deserved full recognition as South African jazz standards though Nomali (or Angel Nemali as Dudu Pukwana rechristened it) is perhaps the best known.
“While in the US, Caiphus collaborated with fellow South African exiles Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa to record the landmark album The Union of South Africa to which he contributed key compositions. The Vortex concert will include lesser known songs from this album as well as selections from Hugh Masekela’s incomparable 1972 album Home is Where the Music Is, another milestone in the history of South African jazz produced by Caiphus Semenya in London.”
Last December’s South African Jazz Night at the Vortex was packed out; this one should be too: the sextet is led by Adam Glasser (piano/harmonica) and comprises Chris Batchelor (tpt), Steve Buckley (alto saxphone), Alam Nathoo (tenor saxophone), Steve Watts (bass) & Tim Giles (drums).