Last night fans, industry role-players, family and media gathered in Rosebank, Johannesburg, for an exclusive listening session of Rejoice, the new album by Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela.
It is the first full body of work featuring Masekela to be released since his passing in 2018.
Tony Allen, the iconic Nigerian drummer, shared a message from Paris, thanking South Africans for their enthusiastic response to the album.
Also in attendance were members of the Hugh Masekela family including his sister Barbara Masekela, his nephew Mabusha Masekela and his daughter Pula Twala. Josh Georgiou, his manager, spoke on behalf of the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation.
The night included a session of moving storytelling by Mabusha Masekela and Josh Georgiou, facilitated by Brenda SIsane. Georgiou was travelling with Hugh Masekela at the time of Rejoice’s recording and provided first-hand insight into what the studio process was like.
Speaking on behalf of the record label was Jonathan Jules, BMG’s Marketing Director of Africa and the Middle East “BMG is a major global music company where our artists are very much at the center of the values of our company : fairness, transparency, service, worldwide. Partnering with Tony and Hugh, two African legends, deepens our global commitment to furthering the reach of African Music on the global stage. Music is borderless and so are we.”
“The preservation of the African, and the South African sounds, is critical” said Mabusha Masekela. “This album speaks directly to that. It encapsulates what is essentially folk music, so that our music and narratives are remembered forever. It’s also a reminder that we need to do much more to immortalise these sounds and stories before they are lost and forgotten”.
The night included a riveting tribute to the West African sound by Mandla Mlangeni (Standard Bank Young Jazz Winner 2019).
Having first met in the 1970’s thanks to their respective close associations with Fela Kuti, the two world renowned musicians talked for decades about making an album together. When, in 2010, their touring schedules coincided in the UK, the moment presented itself and producer Nick Gold took the opportunity to record their encounter. The unfinished sessions, consisting of all original compositions by the pair, lay in archive until after Masekela passed away in 2018. With renewed resolution, Tony Allen and Nick Gold, with the blessing and participation of Hugh Masekela’s estate, unearthed the original tapes and finished recording the album in summer 2019 at the same London studio where the original sessions had taken place – the famous Livingston studios in North London.
Rejoice releases worldwide on 20 March 2020 in-stores and on all streaming platforms.