DUDUVUDU – The Gospel According to Dudu Pukwana
Released 8/12/14 via Edgetone Records and distributed by Harmonia Mundi
A tribute to the late, legendary South African Saxophonist featuring musicians who played with him: Harry Beckett, Annie Whitehead, Nick Stephens
I first heard Dudu Pukwana and the Bluenotes (Johnny Dyani, Louis Moholo, Mongezi Feza, Chris McGregor) at a pub in 1966 when I was a student at Leeds University. It was the genesis of a personal musical journey leading up to this very special project. The Bluenotes changed the face of European jazz forever, weaving a fiery eclectic mix with No Boundaries! You can read the story of their remarkable journey under the crushing weight of apartheid in Maxine McGregor’s beautiful book, Chris McGregor & the Brotherhood of Breath: My Life with a South African Jazz Pioneer. Those lucky enough to have been exposed to Dudu’s music will forever be in the grip of a rare and beautiful musical spirit. More than 20 years after his death, his uniquely original music lives in a powerful and inspirational way.
Duduvudu has been a family affair – a true international, multi-generational collaborative labour of love with the direct involvement of those most intimately associated with Dudu, The Bluenotes, and The Brotherhood of Breath: trumpeter Harry Beckett (his last recording session), percussionist Thomas Dyani, bassist Nick Stephens, trombonist Annie Whitehead, and guitarist Pierre Dørge (New Jungle Orchestra), Dudu’s widow Barbara Pukwana, Hazel Miller of Ogun Records (and the widow of Blue Notes bassist Harry Miller), and Veronica Beckett, widow of Harry Beckett.
The initial recordings were done in London with the addition of Dave Draper on guitar, Mark Sanders on drums, Jody Scott on trumpet, Ntshuks Bonga on alto, and Chloe Scott on flute. Additional tracks have been recorded in San Francisco by some of the Bay Area’s finest. The Musical Director of Duduvudu is the renowned London-born, San Francisco-based flautist, Chloe Scott. Jody Scott is co-producer/chief mix engineer on the project.
Although there have been a number of recordings dedicated to Dudu and the Bluenotes, this tribute focuses on an area perhaps not explored in depth – the blues/gospel/dance imbued in the music. As out as it gets, the groove is woven throughout. At times it reminds me of Ed Blackwell with Eric Dolphy or Ornette Coleman. Check out the bass line of Ezilalini, the funk of Diamond Express, the a capella fanfare of Sekela Khuluma, the odd-meter treatment of the classic tune, Mra. Musicians here span an age range of 60 years, yet all respond to Dudu’s music in a fresh way.
Harry, Annie, and Nick, each who played extensively with Dudu, spoke of the hymnals and the brass bands they grew up with and hear in this music, of the joy, the intensity, the fire, the groove. The title Duduvudu brought a smile to Barbara’s face, remembering the magic, the voodoo, the spell that Dudu’s music cast over all who were touched by it – and now that means you!
Duduvudu is dedicated to the late Harry Beckett, whose endless support, humour, and encouragement made it real. Notes by Andrew Scott
Dudu Pukwana 18 July 1938 – 30 June 1990
Harold Winston “Harry” Beckett 30 May 1935 – 22 July 2010