Hugh Masekela - Jabulani Tour

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, April 14, 2013

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Back by popular demand, Grammy award-winning, legendary South African trumpeter, composer, Hugh Masekela gave a special performance in the Zellerbach Theatre
featuring classic favorites and works from his latest album, "Jabulani". Mr. Masekela was joined on stage by an outstanding ensemble of musicians - Francis Manneh Fuster, percussion; Abednigo “Fana” Zulu, bass; Randall Skippers, keyboards; Lee-Roy Sauls, drums; and Cameron John Ward, guitar.

To open the set, Mr. Masekela described the new album, as collection of traditional South African wedding songs. His flugelhorn solos were magical, and his skills as a band leader were every so apparent. Two pieces that are always a highlight of a Masekela concert, were "Grazin in the Grass" and "Stimela", the coal train song."Stimela," a tribute to the migrant workers of South Africa who had to ride coal trains for many miles to go work in the harsh conditions in the diamond, and mineral mines.

Another highlight of the evening was a tribute to Fela Kuti, as Masekela covered the Afro beat classic “Lady” (She go say I be Lady o). On this tune the band demonstrated their ability to alternate between the soft, subtle passages in the song to an all-out funky, soulful phrasing. His most enduring composition “The Marketplace", is tune that recreates through the music the setting of a beautiful, colourful market where a man and women meet and fall in love.

Mr. Masekela maintained a jovial banter with the audience, and his musicians throughout the performance. He is a master at bringing his music to life with his dance movements. His spontaneous dance moves makes it hard to believe that he is 74 years young!

Mr. Masekela sang, danced, played his flugelhorn, imitated a train whistle, and engaged the audience in a call and response on several songs. He encouraged and the audience; young and old to get on their feet to groove to the music. Some gathered around the front of the stage as the rhythms pulled them in.

For the finale, the band performed “Bring Back Nelson Mandela bring him back home to Soweto"which brought the audience to their feet one more time.

After the performance the audience was treated to a chat with Mr. Masekela about his music and the various Philadelphia clubs in which he performed including the Showboat and the Aqua Lounge. When asked how he is able to do all of those funky dance moves throughout the entire show, Mr. Masekela responded that he practices Tai Chi daily and highly recommends it to create a calm spirit and to strengthen the body. Now that’s healthy advice!

More images from the event are in Ben Johnson's photo gallery http://www.benjohnsonjazzphotos.com

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Karen Brundage-Johnson, PhD.