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'Nearer Awakening.' --plays the music of Bheki Mseleku

Artist: John Donaldson

Date of Release: 19/01/2010

Catalogue no: LL851

Label: Laughing Lettuce

Price: £10

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

Joy

8.52

2

 

Ntuli Street

6.05

3

 

Timelessness

7.42

4

 

Nearer Awakening

9.10

5

 

Suluman Saud

7.15

6

 

Angola

8.11

7

 

My Passion

7.00

8

 

Blues for Afrika

4.38

 

 

 

 

John Donaldson's 'Unity' play the music of Bheki Mseleku

 

Reviews

 

19/02/2010 RAY COMISKEY

JOHN DONALDSON'S UNITY

Nearer Awakening

Laughing Lettuce ****

This vibrant album salutes the music of the late South African multi-instrumentalist Bheki Mseleku, whose unpretentious, deceptively simple compositions have an insistent inner strength that reflect his African and jazz roots. It's served up in an engagingly ego-free spirit by pianist John Donaldson's quartet, with Ian Price (tenor), Simon Thorpe (bass) and Tristan Banks (drums). Donaldson remains one of the finest mainstream/ modern pianists around, but it's Price, who works in latin bands, who is a real surprise - an always musical soloist who lets you hear all the changes, yet makes his own of them in a logical and personal way. They're consistently good here, especially on the title track, the slow burn of My Passion, and the grooving Joy, Angola, Suluman Saud and Timelessness, all handled with enviable authority by a quartet that lives up to its name. www.johndonaldson.org

RAY COMISKEY
(c) 2010 Irish Times

 

01/02/2010 Chris Parker

John Donaldson knew fellow pianist Bheki Mseleku (1955–2008) as a friend and inspiration in the South African's final decade, and toured England and Scotland with him shortly before his premature death, so this album, on which Donaldson and a tight, responsive band (completed by tenor player Ian Price, bassist Simon Thorpe and drummer Tristan Banks) address eight Mseleku compositions, is a personal as well as musical tribute.

In Jon Lusk's obituary in the Independent, 'melodicism and rhythmic sophistication' and an ability to assimilate a broad variety of musical styles are listed as Mseleku's great strengths, but his 'strong spiritual leanings' are also mentioned, a feature Donaldson himself refers to, recalling that Mseleku 'lived a life dedicated to his music and spiritual journey'.

Nearer Awakening is thoroughly imbued with all these qualities, whether the band is romping through the appropriately titled opener, 'Joy', or addressing more meditative material; Mseleku's music is deceptively accessible, its apparently untroubled, jauntily ebullient or even its thoughtfully musing surfaces concealing unexpected depths, both musical and emotional, and Donaldson and his band address it with suitable gravitas, grace and sensitivity.

'A challenge and a joy' is Donaldson's own assessment of Mseleku's music, and with his robust but elegant and refined playing flawlessly propelled by Thorpe (a member of Mseleku's band in its later years) and Banks, and tellingly complemented by the muscular but considered tenor of Price, he has produced an album that is both compelling in its own right and a fitting tribute to a fine composer and multi-instrumentalist.

 

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