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Songs of Migration International Tour

Songs of Migration International Tour: Amsterdam, London, Washington DC and Cape Town

House of Masekela Press Release

Photograph by Ruphin Coudyzer
Photograph by Ruphin Coudyzer

Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo and the multi-talented cast of the acclaimed Songs of Migration kicked off their international tour last weekend at the Royal Theatre Carre in Amsterdam.

Songs of Migration is a musical tribute to the cultural contribution of late–19th century migrants from across the African continent, created by and featuring internationally acclaimed trumpeter, composer, and lyricist Hugh Masekela and written and directed by James Ngcobo. In this celebration of song and dance, the same dusty streets, settlement camps, and train cars that sometimes separated families echo with the centuries of indigenous sounds that helped hold a patchwork culture together. Songs of Migration commemorates and rejoices in the way in which the promise of gold and the search for a better life brought together a continent ‘s worth of music, traditional costumes, instruments, songs, ceremonies, and dance.

Featuring songs by the likes of Joseph Shabalala, Dorothy Masuka, Miriam Makeba, Mackay Davashe, Victor Ndlazilwane, Gibson Kente and Masekela himself, among many others, this cleverly designed show is filled with raw emotion, joyful exuberance and passionate storytelling.

“A musical homecoming…an attempt to reclaim what apartheid suppressed.”
–The New York Times

Songs of Migration saw critical acclaim over 3 runs at the historical Market Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa, and had audiences singing along, crying, and dancing in the aisles.

Sibojama Theatre has now taken on the task of carrying this powerful piece beyond the borders of the ‘City of Gold’ and bringing a wealth of history, heritage, stories and music to audiences around the world.

The tour continued this week with performances at the iconic Hackney Empire in London and will soon grace the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town. For more information on venues, dates and ticket sales go to our Tour Dates page.

BT River of Music

Photography by Haydn Wheeler

Hugh Masekela, Angelique Kidjo, Ndeshi:
The Africa Stage, BT River of Music Festival as Olympic Games Launched

allAfrica.com

Photography by Haydn Wheeler

Namibian R&B singer, Ndeshi Shipanga recently represented Namibia at the BT River of Music Festival, held in London as part of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

She performed with the SAfricanto accapella group, which consisted of singers from Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and South Africa. Ndeshi, who was the only representative for Namibia.

Along with a solo performance, Safricanto also accompanied the legendary Hugh Masekela on stage at the London Pleasure Gardens.

Led by vocal director, Joyce Moholoagae, a world class South African singer who studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music, Safricanto’s musical harmonies, vivid melodies and rhythmic grooves conjured the rich tapestry of African culture, right in the heart of east London.

Hugh Masekela has come to be known as a living legend in the half-century since he first picked up a trumpet, his voice has long spoken out about his country’s struggle for civil rights, whilst his soaring, joyful trumpet sound brims with warmth and bristles with elements of township jazz, hip-hop and funk.

He took to the BT River of Music Africa stage for two collaborations: first with SAfricanto and the second with fellow African superstar Angelique Kidjo.

The concert also featured a performance by the Senegalese singer, Baaba Maal.

“It was amazing,” says Ndeshi. “There were over 8 000 people at the sold out venue, so it was slightly nerve wrecking, especially working with Hugh but he was really friendly and down to earth and gave all of us hugs.”

Ndeshi recounts how Masekela made sure his part of the show was as authentically African as possible. “He told all the back-up singers to remove the weaves from their hair before the show,” says Ndeshi laughingly. “He said they contain the ghosts of the dead.”

Her involvement in the show started when she was approached by Serious Music, one of the UK’s leading producers and curators of contemporary music, who were looking for singers from southern Africa.

The group met up, learned the various songs and rehearsed only twice before Masekela pronounced them ready for the stage.

“It was such a great day and a massive festival with a massive stage and loads of stalls. The kids were all running around barefoot and it felt almost like being back home,” she said.

The idea of BT River of Music began 10 years ago when Serious created and produced five epic stages around the Serpentine for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebration. Since then, they have been developing the idea that has finally become BT River of Music, which brings together artists from across the world for this once in a lifetime event.

Ndeshi relocated to the UK about four years ago, where she has been working with young people and future musicians. She’s had a few small performances and has continued writing songs while raising her son, who saw his mum perform for the first time at the concert last Saturday. She is looking forward to doing more recordings and being involved with future performances with Safricanto.

Hugh Masekela Joins Paul Simon Graceland Tour!

Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela Joins Paul Simon in London to Kick off the Graceland Tour!

Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Twenty five years after Hugh Masekela first collaborated with Paul Simon and now legendary SA musicians like Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the Graceland album and subsequent tour – the two icons reunited on a Hyde Park Stage on 15 July 2012. The anniversary celebration included the original Graceland band, led by guitarist Ray Phiri as well as Ladysmith Black Mambazo and reggae star, Jimmy Cliff.

This celebratory concert marks the beginning of an anniversary tour that coincides with the release of a new edition of Graceland, which was recorded in Johannesburg last year and features a number of the musicians off the original album.

In 1987, South Africa was in a state of emergency, Nelson Mandela was behind bars and the South African people were utterly oppressed by the apartheid government. The international community established boycotts in support of the Struggle – including a cultural boycott that Paul Simon broke by recording Graceland in South Africa. Hugh Masekela defended him against international outcry at this contravention as it was not only hugely advantageous to the careers of the South African musicians involved, but also brought a much higher level of awareness of the South African situation to the world.

Twenty five years on, their anniversary tour is a joyous celebration of their longstanding friendship that is now welcomed in a democratic South Africa. Both septuagenarians show no signs of slowing down as they revel in the diverse, funky, beautiful music that brought them together.

The tour continues and Masekela joins Simon for the following appearances:

Brussels , Belgium 17 July Vorst Nationaal
Amsterdam, Netherlands 18 July Ziggo Dome
Herning, Denmark 20 July Jyske Bank Boxen, MCH
Stockholm , Sweden 22 July Ericsson Globe Arena
Olso, Norway 24 July Oslo Spektrum

 

Hugh Masekela at UNESCO International Jazz Day Launch

Photograph by Thos Robinson

Jazz Stars Enlist Star Reinforcements To Take On Rap

Dawn
AFP

Photograph by Thos Robinson

UNITED NATIONS: Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and Hugh Masekela starred at the finale concert for the first International Jazz Day in New York on Monday.

The music luminaries were joined by Hollywood giants including Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Robert de Niro for the multinational attempt at the UN headquarters to put jazz back on a global par with rap and rock.

“What it has communicated to the world is incredible. It’s the only language that is spoken by everyone all over the world,” said South African trumpet player Masekela backstage at the gala concert which also featured Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, 91-year-old Cuban percussionist Candido Camero and Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang.

International Jazz Day formally started on Friday in Paris where many of the stars also performed. But the event has also seen special concerts in New Orleans and more than 30 other major cities around the world.

Marsalis, whose 78-year-old pianist father Ellis Marsalis played in New Orleans on Monday morning, said the event allowed musicians to come together as a community. “Jazz musicians are everywhere. We all know each other.”Lang Lang, who has made his name playing with the Vienna Philarmonic and other major global orchestras, said he wanted to help create a “ ‘new generation of jazz enthusiasts.’ For me, my focus is on classic, but I’m a big fan of Herbie Hancock,” said the Chinese classical star.

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Hugh Masekela to Launch UNESCO International Jazz Day

international-jazz-day

UNESCO and Herbie Hancock Announce the First Annual International Jazz Day

E Jazz News
MuseMediaPR

UNESCO AND HERBIE HANCOCK ANNOUNCE THE FIRST ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ DAY ON APRIL 30TH FEATURING ALL-STAR CONCERTS IN PARIS, NEW ORLEANS AND NEW YORK

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock will collaborate with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to celebrate and recognize jazz music as a universal language of freedom

March 21st, 2012. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock are pleased to announce International Jazz Day to be held April 30th of every year. In partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the initiative– Hancock’s first major program introduced as a Goodwill Ambassador–will encourage and highlight intercultural dialogue and understanding through America’s greatest contribution to the world of music. International Jazz Day will foster and stimulate the teaching of jazz education with a particular emphasis placed on children from disadvantaged communities in classrooms around the world and will be offered to all 195 member states of UNESCO.

Said UNESCO Director-General Bokova, “The designation of International Jazz Day is intended to bring together communities, schools and other groups the world over to celebrate and learn more about the art of jazz, its roots and its impact, and to highlight its important role as a means of communication that transcends differences”.

In an address to UNESCO officials, Herbie Hancock said, “Please take a moment and envision one day every year where jazz is celebrated, studied, and performed around the world for 24 hours straight. A collaboration among jazz icons, scholars, composers, musicians, dancers, writers, and thinkers who embrace the beauty, spirit, and principles of jazz, all of them freely sharing experiences and performances in our big cities and in our small towns, all across our seven continents.” He went on to say, “Music has always served as a bridge between different cultures; and no musical art form is more effective as a diplomatic tool than jazz.”

In anticipation of April 30th International Jazz Day, the celebration will kick-off on April 27th at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris with a daylong series of jazz education programs and performances. An evening concert will feature Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marcus Miller, Hugh Masekela, Lionel Loueke, Tania Maria, Barbara Hendricks, Gerald Clayton, Terri Lyne Carrington, John Beasley, China Moses, Ben Williams, and Antonio Hart, and others to be announced. The daytime events will include master classes, roundtable discussions, improvisational workshops, and various other activities.

International Jazz Day will be celebrated by millions worldwide on Monday, April 30th and will begin with a sunrise concert in New Orleans’ Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz. The event will feature a number of jazz luminaries along with Hancock including Dianne Reeves, New Orleans natives Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, Treme Brass Band, Dr. Michael White, Kermit Ruffins, Bill Summers, and others.

The world-wide programs and events will conclude in New York City at the United Nations General Assembly Hall with an historic sunset concert certain to be one of the most heralded jazz celebrations of all time, with confirmed artists including Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Danilo Perez, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Zakir Hussain (India), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Hiromi Uehara (Japan) and others to be announced. George Duke will serve as Musical Director. Confirmed Co-Hosts include Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.

The concert from the United Nations will be streamed live worldwide via the United Nations and UNESCO websites, and will also be post-broadcast on United Nations Radio.

Tom Carter, President of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, said, “The Institute is pleased to be a partner with UNESCO in presenting educational programs and performances as a part of International Jazz Day. For more than a century, jazz has helped soothe and uplift the souls of millions of people in all corners of the globe. It stands for freedom and democracy, particularly for the disenfranchised and brings people of different cultures, religions, and nationalities together.”

The objectives of International Jazz Day are to:

• Encourage exchange and understanding between cultures and employ these means to enhance tolerance;

• Offer effective tools at international, regional, sub-regional and national levels to foster intercultural dialogue;

• Raise public awareness about the role jazz music plays to help spread the universal values of UNESCO’s mandate;

• Promote intercultural dialogue towards the eradication of racial tensions and gender inequality and to reinforce the role of youth for social change;

• Recognize jazz music as a universal language of freedom;

• Promote social progress with a special focus on developing countries utilizing new technologies and communications tools such as social networks;

• Contribute to UNESCO’s initiatives to promote mutual understanding among cultures, with a focus on education of young people in marginalized communities.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz will work with UNESCO and its 195 various field offices, national commissions, UNESCO networks, UNESCO Associated Schools, universities and institutes, public radio and public television, as well as NGOs. Additionally, libraries, schools, performing arts centers, artists and arts organizations of all disciplines throughout the world will be encouraged to celebrate the day through presentations, concerts, and other jazz-focused activities. UNESCO will be sending recommendations for events, programs and support materials to its member countries and efforts are underway to raise funds for activities in developing countries where resources are limited. For example, in Brazil the Ministry of Culture will organize a nationwide program celebrating the history of jazz and its contribution to peace in all of its cultural centers; it is hoped that this will eventually be integrated into Brazil’s national educational curriculum. In Algeria, free jazz concerts will take place featuring groups from all over the country as well as conferences promoting “intercultural exchanges between jazz music and Maghreb music”; Russia will host various activities including concerts, photo exhibitions, lectures, virtual magazines and radio programs, while in Belgium the Conservatory of Jazz and Pop will organize outdoor daytime flash mobs/ concerts with Jazz students in bookstores, the Academy of Fine Arts and more. These are just some of the many local events that will be taking place around the world.

For more information about International Jazz Day, please visit the website at:

www.unesco.org/days/jazzday

Bra Hugh Salutes the Queen

Photograph by Getty Images

Times Live
Staff Reporter

Photograph by Getty Images

Hugh Masekela serenaded Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and nearly 2000 people at Westminster Abbey on Monday to commemorate Commonwealth Day.

Masekela was part of a group of high-profile artists who entertained the queen and a royal delegation that included Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla.

Commonwealth Day is held each year on the second Monday of March to celebrate the British Commonwealth.

Masekela, who is an outspoken advocate of civil rights, belted out an anti-war song.

Before singing, the jazzman told his audience: “With this great song that I have done with Caiphus Semenya, we call on the people of the world to cease contemplating war against each other.”

Canadian musicians Rufus Wainwright and Laura Wright, Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the Descarga Dance Company also performed .

Queen Elizabeth, in a pre-recorded address, stressed the importance of cultural connections in the Commonwealth family.

“This year, our Commonwealth focus seeks to explore how we can share and strengthen the bond of Commonwealth citizenship we enjoy by using our cultural connections to help bring us even closer together as family and friends across the globe,” she said.

The 54-nation Commonwealth consists mostly of states that were part of the British Empire.

Hugh Masekela Performs for the Queen

Photography by Andrew Dunsmore

Commonwealth Stars Come Out for the Queen

Reuters
Ethan Bilby

Photography by Andrew Dunsmore

(Reuters) – The Queen led a royal delegation in observance of Commonwealth Day in London’s Westminster Abbey on Monday, featuring performances by musicians including Canadian Rufus Wainwright and South Africa’s Hugh Masekela.

Wearing a pink dress and matching pink hat, the Queen was accompanied by Prince Charles in a navy suit and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

In one of the first events on her 60th diamond jubilee calendar, the queen spoke in a pre-recorded address about the importance of cultural connections in the Commonwealth of Nations.

“This year, our Commonwealth focus seeks to explore how we can share and strengthen the bond of Commonwealth citizenship we already enjoy by using our cultural connections to help bring us even closer together, as family and friends across the globe.”

Formed of 54 sovereign states, the Commonwealth is an intergovernmental organisation consisting mostly of states that were part of the British Empire. The queen is still head of state for some of them, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Canadian singer Rufus Wainwright was one of the first performers, playing the piano and singing a soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

“It’s a great honour, it’s wonderful to be here,” he told Reuters after the service.

“I need to get more bookings in Africa now!” he added jokingly.

Later on, 72-year-old South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela wowed the assembled crowd with a joyful musical performance that thundered through the nave of Westminster Abbey.

At one point, he brought smiles to the bashful well-mannered audience by exhorting them to sing with him in a blaring call and response of chanting and howling.

Primatologist Jane Goodall, famous for her work studying the social interactions of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania, was the keynote speaker of the service.

After welcoming the attendees with a whooping chimpanzee greeting call, she explained how the Commonwealth had made a difference to her.

“It was connections between England and Kenya that first enabled me to achieve my childhood dream when I sailed from England in 1957. It was connections with Kenya and Tanzania that enabled me start my studies…that I continue today,” she said.

Other performances included the Afro-Caribbean fusion dance of the Descarga Dance Company, and a reading by Scottish poet Liz Lochhead.

(Reporting By Ethan Bilby, editing by Paul Casciato)

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Hugh Masekela at Pick-Staiger

Musician Hugh Masekela Brings South Africa to Pick-Staiger

North by Northwestern
By Thomas Carroll

As South African vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Hugh Masekela danced in time to cue his band’s next song Saturday night, he addressed an audience of both students and senior citizens at a packed Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

Masekela’s concert showcased a hard grooving mix of established South African musical elites and young rising stars performing both new material and the older songs that earned Masekela international fame in the 1960s and 70s. The show was part of an 11-city U.S. tour in support of his newest album Jabulani, which consists of reworked traditional wedding songs from Masekela’s hometown of Witbank, South Africa.

He explained to a hesitant audience that one of his songs was originally written to appease the gods and avoid their wrath, urging them to sing the words in order to save themselves from being struck down by lightning. Meanwhile, his hypertalented five piece rhythm section maintained a gentle pulsating vamp beneath the teasing.

Masekela continued: “And if you don’t care about your lives, think about the other people on the stage, please” as the band exploded into an energetic arrangement of the South African ritual led by the 73-year-old frontman’s percussive vocals and joyful flugelhorn playing.

Masekela’s music emanates energy and confidence. Even when he sings about issues like African poverty or Apartheid, he expresses a fervent sense of determination either through vocal ornamentation or lyrical flugelhorn improvisation. His incessant dancing and defiant fist pumps also convey this resilient attitude. Masekela’s dexterity as a vocalist and instrumentalist disguises his true age. On the horn he plays with an earthy tone and alternates intricate rapid-fire runs with fluid soulful legato lines while his voice ranges from pop-tune crooning to an aggressive half-growl that gives continuity to his funk/jazz/South African fusion arrangements.

The veteran performer continued to incorporate humor into his performance, chiding Evanstonians for being afraid to “let go” and break free from social conservatism. He poked fun at African wedding ceremonies, explaining how people of his village would sing songs like “Girl, you better learn to sweep because you can’t make love in the dirt” following a successful ceremonial engagement.

The members of the rhythm section demonstrated at least as much intensity and musicality as their bandleader. Many instrumental songs featured extensive solos from all musicians and the group lengthened Masekela’s standard repertoire with jazz-influenced improvisation.

Drummer Lee-Roy Sauls, 27, anchored the band with steady funk and African fusion grooves while renowned veteran percussionist Francis Manneh Fuster added layers of texture with a variety of shakers and bells in addition to polyrhythmic solos on timbales, congas and a talking drum. Keyboardist Randal Skippers and 25-year-old guitar protégé Cameron Ward mingled seamlessly to create Masekela’s harmonic backdrop when not offering their own laid back funk-and-blues-oriented solos. Electric bass innovator Abednigo Sibongiseni Zulu supported the band with a rich tone and captivating sense of time. His only bass solo at the end of the concert was a major highlight.

The band’s setlist seemed to accommodate everyone in the audience. They played smooth jazz and disco reminiscent songs for the old fans and the more upbeat traditional songs had the younger members of the audience on their feet by the end of the second set. Although the primary mood of the show was celebratory, Masekela reminded his audience that, although Apartheid is over, there are still many underprivileged people in the world. He dedicated his final song, a somber ballad that morphed into a tropical-tinged vamp over which all members could tear through their final solos, to those still fighting to find a safe place in the world.

South African Beats – Chico

South African Beats, Message Brought to Chico

The Orion
Devan Homis

Photograph by Frank Rebelo
Photograph by Frank Rebelo

Chico Performances presented jazz trumpet player Hugh Masekela and his South African Afro-beat band as the performers paid their respects to music and the planet at Laxson Auditorium Saturday night.

The show was full of a vast range of emotional response from the audience members as they laughed, clapped, stood up and even sat in a sad silence as Masekela dug into their hearts to find empathy.

He stopped in the middle of his show to clarify the message in his music.

Mother Earth is queen of all and always will be, Masekela said. Society is doing a poor job of respecting her, and those suffering around the world need the help of the more fortunate.

Cooper Grosscup, a freshman philosophy major, agreed with Masekela’s message, he said.

“His music seems to be about celebration but sometimes humility,” Grosscup said. “We need to remember those who are suffering as we are not, and we need to respect Mother Earth. He had a clear message to alleviate the suffering in the world.”

Kaeci Beshears, an usher working at the event, approximated that about 500 tickets to Saturday’s performance were sold in advance, she said. Laxson Auditorium seats about 1,200 people, and Saturday’s audience filled about two-thirds of the seating area.

The feverous sequences of melody in the music created by the five band members made the crowd move. The audience especially responded to the the tribal-sounding drumbeats combined with Masekela’s thunderous, screaming trumpet solos.

The music just makes you happy, avid Masekela fan James Coles said.

“You hear the rhythm and the bass and you want to smile,” he said.

Masekela’s music sprawled across the spectrum of emotional appeal as some songs soothed and others inspired a feverous clap of crowd interaction.

“He’s one of the artists that brought South African music to the mainstream so all of us could get to know it that way,” Coles said. “It’s been great to get to see him.”

Hugh Masekela at Royce Hall

roycehall

Live Jazz: Hugh Masekela at Royce Hall

The International Review of Music
by Michael Katz

There are moments when all the ways we like to consider ourselves here in LA — multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, the whole big melting pot simmering under a golden sun – get reflected in something bigger and make us think, “Hey, maybe that really IS us.” Friday was such a night in Westwood when 73 year old Hugh Masekela brought his band of South African musicians to UCLA Live and left venerable Royce Hall smoldering, the diverse crowd dancing and singing in clusters around the main stage.

Masekela brings two formidable weapons to his performances. There is his voice, gruff and guttural at the lower edges, where he begins in a chant and moves up the scale, mellow in the middle ranges, still capable of reaching the higher octaves. Whether augmenting the lyrics with narration or simply falling into a soft elegy, Masekela has the audience hanging on every note.

Then there is his flugelhorn. It’s a perfect instrument for Masekela. His tones are warm and robust, no need for pyrotechnics; sometimes heraldic, adding a tinge of gravity to the music, other times teasing the melody, evoking playfulness, or just plunging into Afro-pop-funk, stirring the audience into staccato clapping and more.

Masekela’s backing quintet crossed over several generations, all of them schooled in the Cape Town music scene. The most remarkable was Cameron John Ward, a 22 year old guitarist. During the two and a half hour, two set performance, Ward showed off a stunning stylistic range, commencing with a simple but lovely intro to the opening “Where He Leads,” evoking a George Benson-like vocalizing over his solos in “Mama,” and giving the audience the rich, sweet guitar licks we’ve come to associate with the South African sound in “Halese.” Ward was equally at home in the funky Afro-pop tunes, running the emotional gamut on the second set’s opening numbers, “The Boy” and “Chileshe,” bringing the crowd to its feet as he and Masekela shimmied down to the floor.

roycehall2a

Masekela put together two thoughtfully constructed sets, starting out the first with soft, soulful tunes and then bringing the tempo up. An additional scheduled percussionist was absent, putting a bit more responsibility on drummer Lee-Roy Sauls, with Masekela putting down his horn and helping out on tambourines and cowbell. His most stirring moments came at the ends of both sets. In “Stimela,” aka “Coal Train,” Masekela told the story of African workers taking the train from all parts of the continent to find work in the South African mines. His evocation of the locomotive, using his rasping chant, whistle and cowbell portended not just the journey but its destination. The song then reached a crescendo with flugelhorn and guitar, and some nice keyboard backing by Randall Skippers.

Skippers and bassist Fana Zulu were content to stay in the background for much of the performance, but that changed in the second set, particularly in the last three numbers. Masekela’s international hit “Grazing in the Grass,” first recorded by him in 1968 from the pen of Philemon Hou, loses nothing over time from its infectious opening line. Masekela introduced it with the warm mid-tones of the flugelhorn; the audience was bouncing along with him from the first few notes. Electric bassist Zulu stepped up and delivered his one extended solo of the night and it was vibrant, the tones rich and full, supporting Masekela’s horn beautifully. Masekela’s solo seemed to sneak up behind Zulu, then he slipped aside to make room for Skippers. Over the evening Skippers, who played from a variety of electric keyboards, had ranged from a vibes-like sound, to synthesizer, to pure piano simulation. Now he fell into a lovely riff, weaving his way around the main chords, reaching back, ballad-like, for a stunning finish that literally stopped the show. With the audience silent, it was left for Masekela to pick up his horn and finish it off with a brief coda.

Masekela concluded the scheduled set with another flight of music and narrative. He related the story of his grandparents running the equivalent of a South African speakeasy — the native Africans being forbidden to drink alcohol with predictable consequences. The call “Khauleza” was a warning that the constables were coming, and Masekela had the audience repeating it, first tentatively and then with appropriate alacrity, and finally as chorus to the tune.

By this time most of the crowd had been liberated from their seats for good, without benefit of giant videoscreens or smart phones or anything else but Masekela and his band. When “Khauleza” had ended with closing solos from everyone, Royce Hall was clamoring for more. The encore brought folks into the aisles, dancing to “Ashiko,” then coalescing around the stage for a raucous sendoff. All and all, it was surely one of the highlights of the musical season.