Review

Bra Sello

The Battle Of Disco

Afrodelic • 1977

Disco as a battlefield: South African saxophonist Selby Mmutung, aka Bra Sello or »Brother« Sello, was an exponent of township jazz of the Mbaqanga variety, a combination of American jazz and Zulu traditions. Bra Sello began his career in the 1960s. Now two of his albums from the 1970s are being re-released for the first time. The two long tracks on 1977’s »The Battle of Disco« feature improvised, at times rather windy solos and a dense, rolling groove, although the record sounds far less battle-ready than its title suggests. 

This was aimed more at the work ethic of his fellow musicians, so that they wouldn’t lose sight of their own talents, despite the emergence of DJs and synthesisers at the time. It was a decisive plea for music by paid musicians. And a convincing one at that: The gospel-like horn sections, constantly shifting from monophonic to polyphonic, play recurring choruses in a gyrating form as a kind of handmade loop. The most wonderful thing about it is that it could go on forever. With Bra Sello, this goes on for about 20 minutes on each side of the record. That is really quite a lot.