I've been thinking about Spirits Rejoice, the great South Africa jazz-rock fusion band, ever since I read a terrific paper about a bad musical.
Tyler Fleming presented a chapter of his forth-coming book about King Kong (the iconic South African musical of the '50s, not the giant ape) to a seminar at the University of Virginia's Carter G. Woodson Institute, earlier this week. In it, he talked about the show's ill-fated revival of the late-'70s. The production was a disaster, but, low and behold, the pit band was Spirits Rejoice, an epic group that South Africans still talk about. Among its members were two musicians who went on to become true icons of South African music -- Sipho Gumede, the bassist, and Robbie Jansen, the saxophonist, flutist, and anti-apartheid activist. Other members, like Mervyn Africa and Duke Makasi, had (and are having) important careers in South Africa and overseas.
This is some seriously good music, folks. Enjoy!