Boomkat Product Review:
Hearty, deeply earthed ’60s/70s South African jazz-blues, marinading in the archives for six decades years until Strut did the right thing with this remastered reissue - those wooden drums, soaring flute melodies, and blues verve; we’ve not heard anything quite like it.
Formed in Mamelodi township near Pretoria, the group started out as Malombo Jazz Men with Julian Bahula on malombo drums, Abbey Cindi on flute and Philip Tabane on guitar. Fusing traditional and improvised rhythms with jazz, Malombo became renowned as one of the first South African bands to fully connect jazz with the African traditions. Despite his undoubted genius, Tabane became erratic on tour and Bahula brought in another Mamelodi-based talent, guitarist Lucas “Lucky” Ranku, renaming the band Malombo Jazz Makers. The group played stadiums and festivals and were soon signed to Gallo.
Recording at a studio in Pretoria, the trio debuted with the album ‘Malompo Jazz’ in 1966, showcasing the simple, spacious beauty of the Malombo sound and Abbey Cindi’s compositions, with Mahotella Queens’ Hilda Tloubatla on guest vocals. The partner follow-up album ‘Malombo Jazz Makers Vol. 2’ was recorded a year later, continuing the earthy flow of Malombo’s music. The two albums have since been recognised as unique landmarks of South African jazz through popular tracks like ‘Sibathathu’, ‘Jikeleza’ and ‘Emakhaya’."