WIT3 // WITCH - "Freedom Fighter" / "Funky Reggae"



Many Zambian bands underwent interesting evolutionary trajectories over the course of the 1970s but nothing matches the radical leap undertaken by WITCH from the bold and progressive Afro-rock of their Janet album in 1977 to their fully fledged boogie outing Movin' On in 1980. These two incarnations of Zambia's most cherished ensemble have been comprehensively documented over the last decade and have attracted distinct legions of Zamrock and disco acolytes. Unreleased until now, the non-album single "Freedom Fighter" (with it's quirky reggae B-side) emerges as the missing link that unites the two WITCH camps, finding the group in Zimbabwe as the new nation came into being and documenting a mercurial period with their sound in the process of shapeshifting.
 
The expanded 1980s lineup of WITCH was interested in exploring the band's potential as a vehicle for modern dance in the vein of Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang. Joining the existing core of Chris Mbewe on guitar, Gideon Mulenga on bass and Boyd Sinkala on drums were two former bandmates from the group Guys & Dolls in the form of Patrick Mwondela on keyboard and Emmanuel Makulu on guitar. Working alongside founding vocalist Jagari Chanda until his final departure was an additional lead singer named Stanford Tembo, who had cut his teeth a decade earlier fronting a group called Suzie Q. While the band was touring neighbouring Zimbabwe on the cusp of the nation's April 1980 independence celebrations, it was Tembo who introduced "Freedom Fighter" to the WITCH setlist. Resurrecting a composition he had written a couple of years earlier about the political struggle in Mozambique, Tembo recast the lyrics in English as well as Shona, Zimbabwe's most widely spoken language. The track prompted euphoric audience responses and was quickly recorded in Harare to document the historic moment.
 
Drums - Boyd Sinkala (Lead Vocal on "Freedom Fighter")
Guitar - Chris Mbewe (Lead Vocal on "Funky Reggae")
Bass - Gedeon Mulenga
Keyboard - Patrick Mwondela
Guitar - Emmanuel Makulu
Backing Vocals - Shaddick Bwalya

Recorded in Harare, Zimbabwe
Produced by WITCH
"Freedom Fighter" Words & Music by Stanford Tembo
"Funky Reggae" Words & Music by Shaddick Bwalya

Audio Restoration - Neal Birni
Mastering - Morten McCoy
Design & Layout - Ash Pederick
Liner Notes - Calum MacNaughton

Original Zimbabwe Release 1980
2021 Reissue Produced by SHARP-FLAT with Rebel Disko
Edition of 300 Vinyl 7" Single with Numbered Insert
Under License from WITCH
Cat. No. WIT 3

KK01 // SYD KITCHEN & THE UTENSILS - Waiting for the Heave

Although Syd Kitchen (1951-2011) had been active as a songwriter and performer for well over a decade, most notably in a folk duo with his brother Pete as the Kitchen Brothers throughout the 1970s, the year 1987 marked the release of his ambitious and fiercely independent solo debut Waiting for the Heave. Backed by the Utensils, composed of Marius Botha on bass and Kevin Gibson on drums, and privately pressed for Syd's Hairy Guava Records imprint, the album was presented with a characteristic wry detachment that camouflaged its true depth. Self-produced and recorded over a period of close to a year with contributions from multiple engineers, Waiting for the Heave was an uncompromising and idiosyncratic take on 1980s South African folk-rock with eclectic lashings of Afro-pop, reggae and swing jazz to boot.

Despite its long gestation, the performances came off as tight without feeling overworked and Syd's evolving guitar wizardry is on display. Moreover, the set provides an exquisite portfolio of original songwriting and novel phrasing, at times flippant ("Perfect Condition"), occasionally cynical ("Wastelands") and often deeply personal ("Silky"). It conjures timeless allegory ("Railway Room") while speaking directly to its social and political reality ("Crossroads"), closing with a sincere invocation of peace, liberty and fraternity that would have felt hopelessly out of reach in South Africa at the time ("Dancing in the Streets of the World"). Available only on vinyl LP until now, Waiting for the Heave sees its first full reissue as a digital album to mark what would have been Syd Kitchen's 70th birthday on 14 February 2021.

All Songs Composed, Published & Arranged by Syd Kitchen

Syd Kitchen - Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Percussion & Vocals
Marius Botha - Electric Bass, Harmony Vocals on "Marcus"
Kevin Gibson - Drums
Steve Robinson - Lead Guitar Solo on "Silky"

Recorded April '86 through February '87 at:
Soundcrew Productions, Westville - Engineer: Ron Selby
Redolfi Studios, Durban North - Engineer: Bruno Redolfi
Shifty Studios, Johannesburg - Engineer: Lloyd Ross

Mastered at Shifty Studios by Lloyd Ross
Produced by Syd Kitchen for Ultrazulcha Promotions
Cover Picture - René Tupper
Cover Concept - The Utensils
Photography & Art Direction - Barry Downard
Publicity & Continuity - Michael Cross

Original Cat. No. Hairy 001
1987 Vinyl Release - Hairy Guava Records
2021 Digital Archive Cat. No. KK01
Released with Support & Direction from Pete Kitchen & Sev Kitchen
DIGITAL ALBUM

SF09 // HILTON SCHILDER - In New York



In September 2019, Cape Town pianist Hilton Schilder travelled to New York for a pair of appearances at Dizzy's Club during a long weekend of programming at Jazz at Lincoln Center focused on composers from South Africa. In New York (2020) documents Schilder's mystical Friday the 13th performance with Dizzy's prominent Manhattan windows looking out onto a full moon.
 
Schilder's New York trio is comprised of South African expat Jimmy Mngwandi on double bass alongside acclaimed Bronx drummer Will Calhoun (of Living Colour renown). Appearing on vocals for part of the set is Siya Makuzeni, notably reprising a decade-old collaboration with Schilder entitled "Paint Your World."
 
The set opens with Schilder's signature mouth bow energy smudge under the title "Alien of Extraordinary Ability" (an amusing phrase from his visa application) and includes a solo piano arrangement of Russell Herman's avante-garde, Estudio-era composition "Aryeah and the Dwarf" from the late-1970s. Also notable is the group's energised vocal rendition of "The Art of Flying" and other fluid live manifestations of material from Schilder's Rukma Vimana release of 2016.

Piano  Bow - Hilton Schilder
Bass - Jimmy Mngwandi
Drums - Will Calhoun
Vocals - Siya Makuzeni

Music Composed by H. Schilder
Except "Aryeah and the Dwarf" by R. Herman (Arr. H. Schilder)
 

Recorded Live at Dizzy's Club on 13 September 2019
Jazz at Lincoln Center • New York, NY
Concert Programming & Direction by Seton Hawkins, Georgina Javor
& Jason Olaine
Audio Recording by Juan Carlos Andrews
Mastered by Richard Vossgatter
Produced by Calum MacNaughton
Released November 2020 CD

SF08 // MOVEMENT IN THE CITY - Black Teardrops

1981 South African Soul-Funk-Jazz from the master tape vault of the As-Shams/The Sun label by the creator of the Black Disco albums. As underground jazz fermented in the social and political powder keg of early-80s South Africa, composer and bandleader Pops Mohamed retired the Black Disco moniker in favour of Movement in the City. The group's second offering under this new name yielded what has become one of the most sought-after releases from As-Shams by way of Black Teardrops, a singular blend of down-tempo and atmospheric South African rare groove featuring Dollar Brand saxophonist Basil "Manenberg" Coetzee and bass wizard Sipho Gumede. Reissued in an edition of 500 vinyl LP, putting the album back in print for the first time in 40 years.

Keyboards • Organ  Guitar - Pops Mohamed
Tenor Sax  Flute - Basil "Manenberg" Coetze
Alto Sax  Flute - Robbie Jansen
Bass - Sipho Gumede • Peter Odendaal
Drums - Roger Harry Monty Weber
 
Recorded at Satbel Studio & Gallo
Engineer: Phil Audoire
Produced by Rashid Vally
 
Original Release 1981 Reissue 2020 First Edition of 500 Vinyl LP
Repress Edition 2021

SF07 // DEREK GRIPPER - A Year of Swimming



In 2012, Derek Gripper dazzled solo guitar and African music enthusiasts alike with an album entitled One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali. The proposition was to interpret the ancient music of the 21-string kora from Mali on the 6-string classical guitar and the outcome was a critically acclaimed set and a watershed moment for African guitar music. With an affinity for arranging the works of distinguished Malian griot Toumani Diabaté, Gripper went on to release the equally lauded Libraries on Fire in 2016 and has performed these works internationally in addition to sharing his techniques with a growing community of players online.

With A Year of Swimming (2020), the South African guitarist and resident of Cape Town presents his most multidimensional collection of works in the form of a snapshot of a year of personal transformation, framed by the ritual of cold water swimming. The influence of Mali is felt via re-workings of compositions by Salif Keita and Baaba Maal but Gripper also channels the Xhosa uhadi (musical bow) and the mbira (thumb piano) of Zimbabwe as part of a trio of dedications to influential African women performers. The album is fleshed out by his own singular compositional style that marries avant garde guitar primitivism with classical grace and precision. Raw yet ornate, intense yet elegant, Gripper's sound is a force of nature.
 
Solo Guitar by Derek Gripper
Featuring Works by Derek Gripper, Salif Keita & Baaba Maal
And Arrangements of Xhosa, Zimbabwe & Mali Traditionals Inspired by and Dedicated to Madosini, Chiwoniso Maraire & Fanta Sacko
Recorded by Howard Butcher at Peace of Eden
Cover Photo by Aron Halevi
Design by Twoshoes
 
Released November 2020 Edition of 300 Vinyl LP 
Produced for SHARP-FLAT by Calum MacNaughton
Distributed by Strawberry Rain Music (CAN) & Painted Dog (NDL)

SF06 // FREEDOM'S CHILDREN with MALOMBO JAZZ MAKERS - Ourang-Outang


In August 1971, songwriter, producer and engineer David Marks of Third Ear Enterprises presided over a pair of concerts in Johannesburg with the inspired title of Tribal Blues. Marks had earned his chops as an itinerant engineer in North America in 1969, crewing at the legendary Woodstock Festival and John Lennon's Rock & Roll Revival in Toronto. He also brought capital to his nascent independent music label via publishing royalties from his breakout composition "Master Jack," which had been an international hit for Four Jacks and a Jill as well as Trini Lopez in 1968. Tribal Blues assembled the pre-eminent figures of South Africa's folk, rock and jazz underground for a revue of epic cross-cultural collaborations featuring the likes of Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu (who would go on to form Juluka) as well as Freedom's Children with the Malombo Jazz Makers billed as Ourang-Outang.

On the 11th and 12th of August 1971, the recently disbanded white wizards of South Africa's psychedelic rock underground reassembled to share the stage with the black witchdoctors of the Afro-jazz avant-garde at Wits Great Hall. For South Africa, this unlikely alliance of musical druids was akin to Fela Kuti and Ginger Baker joining forces in Lagos the very same year. In the only extant photo of the performances above, Brian Davidson on vocals on stage-left is flanked by guitarists Lucky Ranku and Kenny Henson. On stage-right, songwriter Ramsay Mackay is on bass beside Abe Cindi on flute. Out of the frame, the ensemble is rounded out by Julian Bahula on percussion and Colin Pratley on drums.

Music of the Spirit was the maverick debut release from 3rd Ear in 1971 and was just the approach Julian Bahula's branch of the Malombo franchise needed to document their mercurial sound. Wearing his producer hat, David Marks compiled the LP from a variety of live events and makeshift sessions, providing a raw snapshot of the group in performance that rounded out their more polished studio offerings from the late-60s. Marks had even recorded Freedom's Children with the Malombo Jazz Makers at a rural retreat in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu-Natal in preparation for the Tribal Blues concerts and couldn't resist including a minute-long false start from the session as an amusing coda for Side A. The filler track wasn't listed on the centre label but was given a brief credit on the record sleeve. It was attributed to composer Ramsay Mackay and entitled "Excerpt from Ourang-Outang."

The Freedom's Children with Malombo Jazz Makers recordings from the Valley of a Thousand Hills were edited and distilled onto an album-length reel shaped by Ramsay Mackay's vision of creating an allegorical South African tribal musical entitled Ourang-Outang. The tape was stored in a box scrawled with annotations and accompanied by a skeletal tracklisting. In addition to the "Excerpt" track that made its way onto Music of the Spirit, the recordings provided an outline of the prospective musical, two takes of it's catchy main theme and some outstanding jamming. As fate would have it, after the Tribal Blues shows the idea was shelved and eventually abandoned. The Ourang-Outang theme took on a life of its own through the 1970s via a trail of cover versions by Joburg Hawk, Kenny Henson's Harambee, Finch & Henson, Margaret Singana and even disco divas Joy of "Paradise Road" fame. As for the original Ourang-Outang tape, it was archived for almost 50 years but not completely forgotten.


In partnership with 3rd Ear Music's Hidden Years Music Archive Project and Ramsay Mackay, SHARP-FLAT presents "Ourang-Outang" in which Freedom's Children meet Malombo Jazz Makers in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

The unfinished Tribal Musical of Ramsay Mackay performed by:
Brian Davidson - Vocals
Lucky Ranku - Guitar
Kenny Henson - Guitar
Ramsay Mackay - Bass  Vocals
Abe Cindi - Sax  Clarinet
Julian Bahula - Congas  Mbira
Colin Pratley - Drums
(Personnel as credited on the Tribal Blues concert programme)

Audio Recording by David Marks for 3rd Ear Music
Tapes Transfers by Warrick Sony & Pakama Ncume
With Support from Lizabé Lambrechts for HYMAP
Audio Editing & Mastering by Richard Vossgatter & Jason Connoy
Album Artwork by Ramsay Mackay
Artwork Scans by Henry Dennis
Design Layout by Rouleaux van der Merwe
Produced for SHARP-FLAT by Calum MacNaughton
 
Recorded July 1971 Released November 2020
Edition of 300 Vinyl LP with Deluxe Tip-On Sleeve
Distributed by Strawberry Rain Music (CAN)

SF05 // XOLISO - Shingwanyana


Hen’s tooth Afrocentric psych outlier from 1974 via the northeast fringe of Pretoria, South Africa. Building on the influence of acclaimed avant-gardists Malombo, Xoliso pushed Mamelodi's nascent Afro-Jazz sound into the domain of Electric Tribal Rock and laced it with vocal chants, brittle fuzz, trippy flute and organ psychedelics. File between Assegai and Batsumi and in reach of the Beaters and Kabasa. Fully licensed 2019 vinyl reissue sees the album back in print for the first time in 45 years. Carefully restored from analog master tapes with beautifully reproduced original artwork.

Composed & Performed by Xoliso (Peace Makers)
Vocals Percussion - Abraham Tjatja Boikanyo
Flute - Alpheus Koloti
Bass - Gilbert Mathopa
Lead Guitar - Percy Monare
Drums - Johnny Motuba
Keyboard - Abel Bobby Nkambule
Produced by C.B. Matiwane
Reissue Partners: Tjatja (RIP), Alpheus & Bobby
Special Thanks: Chris Albertyn, Vusi Hlatywayo, Jason Connoy & Lee Bright
Original Release 1974 Reissue 2019 500 Vinyl LP
Distributed by BBE Africa (UK)

SF04 // TATA - It's A Mess (Maxi Single)


Behold the sizzling South African boogie sound of Tata Sibeko. A killer producer, arranger and bass wizard, Tata channelled the gloomy current affairs landscape of 1985 into this glimmering Afro-synth gem. As South African pop embraced 1980s synth culture, maxi-singles on 12-inch vinyl became the new canvas of expression with wider grooves for fat beats and extended mixes that suited dancefloors. Former Kabasa frontman Tata Sibeko dropped “It’s A Mess” in 1985, cutting Cold War political tension with dramatic synths, a seductive bass groove and an appeal to “learn to love each other” and “save ourselves from catastrophe.”

On the flip, “Afro Breakdance” sees Tata cook up a singular, stylish Afro-global hybrid in the tradition of “Afro Funkin’” from Kabasa’s self-titled debut in 1980. Tata Sibeko (RIP) licensed and approved the restoration and reissue of this single. He passed away in 2017 and this release is dedicated to his kindness, charm and creative zeal.

Produced by Tata "TNT" Sibeko & Graham Handley
Remastered by Dan Elleson
Original Release 1985 Reissue 2019 45RPM 12" Vinyl Maxi
Manufactured & Distributed by Rush Hour (NDL)

SF03 // KABASA - Kabasa


While the landscape of popular music recordings from 1970s South Africa is dominated by tightly produced nuggets of township soul and jive, there is a notable seam of Afrocentric outsiders that runs through the decade. Their roots lie in Malombo’s angular juxtaposition of guitar and percussion, an avant-garde channeling of raw African soul that announced the arrival of tribal jazz.

Taking the mantle in 1974, Xoliso expanded and electrified the Malombo sound and brought it into the domain of ethnic rock. As the decade wore on, Harari translated Xoliso’s fire into an evocative performance art with less terrestrial grit but more cosmic swing to suit the tastes of the disco era. Former Harari collaborators, Oupa Segwai and Doc Mthalane later collided with bass wizard Tata Sibeko at the start of the 80s to form the core of Kabasa.

Straddling two decades, Kabasa carved a niche at the intersection of Afro-rock and funky disco jive with a trio of outstanding releases during their brief trajectory from 1980 to 1982. Their first offering was an evocation of ancestral spirit and a call for cultural unity wrapped in the infectious veneer of boisterous bass pops, thick power chords and dreamy Roland synthesizers. The album channelled the great musical movements of the decade that preceded it and opened the door to the bubblegum era that followed.

Kabasa’s self-titled debut album marks a beginning for SHARP-FLAT archival reissue releases. Special thanks to production partners and creative collaborators Tata Sibeko (RIP), Oupa Segwai, Jason Connoy (Strawberry Rain Music) and Rouleaux van der Merwe (Permanent Record).

Bass Guitar Vocals - Tata Sibeko
Lead Guitar Vocals - Robert Doc Mthalane
Percussion Vocals - Oupa Segwai
Keyboards Vocals - Madoda Malothane
Drums Vocals -  Johnny Mothuba
Produced by Nunka Mkhalipe
Engineer: Graham "Gramaphone" Handley
Recorded at Satbel Studios (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Original Release 1980 Reissue 2017 500 Vinyl LP
Distributed by Rush Hour (EU) & Light in the Attic (US)

SF02 // HILTON SCHILDER - Rukma Vimana

Rukma Vimana is a triangular jazz constellation from Cape Town featuring Hilton Schilder on piano, Eldred Schilder on bass and Claude Cozens on drums.

Composer Piano Bow Vocals Melodica - Hilton Schilder
Bass - Eldred Schilder
Drums - Claude Cozens
Recorded by Paris Zannos at Paris Studios in March 2015
Mixed by Richard Vossgatter at Phonographic
Mastered by Dave Waugh at The Music Works
Produced by Calum MacNaughton
Released December 2016 CD
DIGITAL ALBUM