Group Theory: Black Music
- Brand: Tumi Mogorosi
- Product Code: TumiMogorosi–GroupTheoryBlackMusic
140-gram Classic Black vinyl LP inside a reverse-board gatefold jacket, with custom M3H/NS inner sleeve.
Group Theory: Black Music is a stunning new statement from South African drummer and composer Tumi Mogorosi. Standing in the lineage of South African greats such as Louis Moholo-Moholo, Makaya Ntshoko and Ayanda Sikade, Mogorosi is one of the foremost drummers working anywhere in the world, with a flexible, powerful style that brings a distinctive South African inflection to the polyrhythmic tradition of Elvin Jones, Max Roach and Art Blakey. Since his international debut on Jazzman Records in 2014 with Project ELO, Mogorosi has been in the vanguard of the South African creative music scene’s burgeoning outernational dimension, taking the drummer’s chair in both Shabaka Hutchings’ Shabaka and The Ancestors formation and with avant-garde noiseniks The Wretched. As Mogorosi’s first project as leader since 2014, Group Theory: Black Music marks a return to the drummer’s musical roots. The sound is anchored in the transnational tradition of Great Black Music, with the core of the group comprising a quintet of newcomers Tumi Pheko (trumpet) and Dalisu Ndlazi (bass) alongside the experienced guitarist Reza Khota, with Mogorosi himself and altoist Mthunzi Mvubu, another Ancestors member, representing the current generation of South Africa’s creative music torchbearers. Motivated by Mogorosi’s driving dynamism, the group create deep-hued modal grooves that burn with a contemporary urgency, while established pianist Andile Yenana brings an elder voice to three of the tracks. Featured vocalists Gabi Motuba (Project ELO, The Wretched) and Siyabonga Mthembu (The Brother Moves On) take differing approaches to the spiritual standard ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child’, while poet Lesego Rampolokeng pours out lyrical fire on ‘Where Are The Keys?’, creating a bridge back to the Black Consciousness movement and figures such as Lefifi Tladi and Wally Mongane Serote. But where Group Theory: Black Music moves an established format dramatically forward is in the addition of a ten-person choir. Conducted by Themba Maseko, their massed voices soar powerfully above every track as a collective instrument of human breath and body, and enter the album into the small but significant number of radical recordings to have used the voice in this way, such as Max Roach’s "It’s Time", Andrew Hill’s "Lift Every Voice", Billy Harper’s "Capra Black", and Donald Byrd’s "I’m Trying To Get Home". At the same time, the presence of this wall of voices brings an inextricable connection to the venerable tradition of South African choral music, and to the importance that the Black choir has had for South Africa’s religious, political and social cultures, including the culture of South African creative music itself. From the Manhattan Brothers and the choral compositions of Todd Matshikiza to figures such as Johnny Dyani and Victor Ndlazilwane, the collective power of voice has been one of the cornerstones of improvised creative music in the country.