“Duduvudu”, The Gospel According to Dudu Pukwana

by on December 19, 2014

British ex-patriate Andrew Scott is one of the Bay Area’s best known recording engineers, a fantastic percussionist, and record producer. A long time fixture in the world of jazz, Brazilian, world music, and even avant garde circles, Scott brings his latest labor of love, “Duduvudu”; a musical project spanning several continents, cultures and sonic boundaries, now available on the Edgetone Records label. Scott passionately recounts his involvement and the history of this amazing project…

“I first heard Dudu Pukwana and the Bluenotes (Johnny Dyani, Louis Moholo, Mongezi Feza, Chris 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 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 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 in November 2009 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 flutist, 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. As you can see from their remembrances here, 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. Huge thanks to all the musicians who have given their love to complete this cd. Very special thanks to Barbara Pukwana for being a true partner throughout, to Hazel Miller from Ogun Records, and John Jack from Cadillac Records for helping us maintain the true integrity of this project. And of course to the fabulous Pauline Crowther Scott – the best artist, wife and mum for endless patience with me, Chloe and Jody in our obsession to make this project special and historic. And need I forget – to Chloe’s hubbie and drummer extaordinaire, Josh Jones, their 6 year old Sadie Scott Jones, and to Jody’s wife Michelle and their son Hunter for hanging in there with these wild and crazy musicians…”

A departure from other titles on the Edgetone label, this album is nevertheless a great one; jazzy tunes like “Portrait of Mosa Gwanga” and “Kweleentonga” are among my personal favorites, however there is something for everyone here; from the grooving “Diamond Express” to the “Duet for Dudu”. If you enjoy great African music as diverse as Amampondo, or Orchestra Baobab, as I do, this album will reside quite comfortably in your collection.

E. ”Doc” Smith

E. "Doc" Smith is a musician, producer and recording artist with Edgetone Records, who has worked with the likes of Brian Eno, Madonna, Mickey Hart and many others. He is also the inventor of the musical instrument, the Drummstick and makes his home in San Francisco.

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