Allen Kwela

Black Beauty

Matsuli Music • 1975

Allen Kwela is considered a pioneer of South African jazz music. He used his guitar skills to compose to the local marabi, creating a deeply rooted township jazz of the 1970s. Now his life’s work is being honoured with a reissue of the 1975 record »Black Beauty«. Produced under the direction of the guitarist himself and saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi at the time, »Black Beauty« brings together a number of pioneers of the jazz scene. What had already caused a sensation within South Africa’s borders soon spread beyond its borders. Allen Kwela embodied a sound that emerged from the streets of Johannesburg and eventually became a popular genre. Now, 48 years later, the first vinyl reissue of this iconic record brings back the jazz memories of a young Johannesburg guitarist. The four tracks are charged with euphoric polyrhythms that unfold over several minutes. They sound happy and carefree, carried by funky melodies and, of course, Allen Kwela’s unmistakable guitar chords do not get left behind in the jazz swirl. »Black Beauty« is one of many records that not only pay tribute to South African jazz as such, but also recapitulate a political genre and its struggle against an apartheid system from the 1940s to the 1980s, making it all the more worth listening to.