Louis Moholo-Moholo is a South African drummer, who has spent most of his career playing both in ensembles led by illuminaries of the European jazz community, and, leading his own distinctive groups. He turned seventy on March 10. His career stretches over sixty years, with most of it centered in the United Kingdom, his home, after he arrived in 1964 with the crew of self-exiled South Africans, until 2005, when he returned to South Africa.
It would take pages to recap the highlights he has provided in recording with the likes of Evan Parker, Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy, Harry Miller, Irene Schweizer, David Murray, Keith Tippett, and many many others, as well as his singular work with The Blue Notes, The Brotherhood of Breath, Chris McGregor, and his own groups–over four decades. It is enough to say that he is the finest trap drummer an entire continent, Africa, has yet produced. His signature drumming qualities are, to me, two: stirringly organic, and, shockingly creative.
Last year, his recording with the pianist Marilyn Crispell, Sibanye, struck me as yet another peerless throw down with a piano-playing peer. The record is brilliant of course. It can’t really be dealt with unless the listener visits its virtuoso territory again and again. The same can be said for his outing with Stan Tracey, Khumbula (2005.)
An Open Letter to My Wife Mpumi. The record seems to me to nail his vision for his own music. Moholo-Moholo’s music sounds a clarion song of liberation within its rigorous structures, and can be said to be freedom music, not free jazz. His bandmates, most of whom is has been working with for some time, form one of music’s most thrilling groups right now.
Pino Minafra’s MinAfric Orchestra featuring Keith & Julie Toppett and Louis Moholo-Moholo
for further investigation:
Tony McGregor’s The Blue Notes: the South African Jazz Exiles