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Back to the Roots: Exploring African Jazz

McCoy Mrubata

After a visit to South Africa in 1998, Heads Up label president Dave Love fell in love with the country’s people and culture. And he dug the music. “There is such as amazing variety of talent, but they are little-known outside their own country,” he says. “I felt the artists deserved to put on the world stage.”

Love has helped do that with his “Heads Up Africa” series, whose first two CDs focused on the NAC side of jazz: Smooth Africa and Smooth Africa II: Exploring the Soul. Last year the label signed well-known South Africa band Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and its new CD is Raise Your Spirit Higher (Wenyukela). The series also includes American steel-pan artist Andy Narell’s Live in South Africa, and Heads Up just released a more mainstream jazz CD in the compilation series, Africa Straight Ahead. Love says, “I wanted to do something in 2004 to coincide with the 10-year marking of the end of apartheid.”

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