I have a confession. “Phola” is the only Hugh Masekela album I own. That’s shameful because I’m a board certified jazz journalist, and you’re an accomplished and respected musician. I should be familiar with your lengthy discography. Mr. Masekela I’ve only been in the jazz business over a decade. I have to admit I still have a lot to learn, and I’ll always be playing catch up.
Mr. Masekela, a few years ago, a friend who fashioned himself a jazz expert told me I needed to take a course in jazz theory and jazz history. I wasn't offended. I told him I’d have to live nine lifetimes to experience the music Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell made. Plus, it would require more time for me to stay afoot of the new jazz albums and musicians springing up.
Mr. Masekela I’m not a pompous know-it-all. I never want people that read my blog page to feel I’m a jazz expert. I’m a lifelong student of jazz. I’m constantly learning about more about listening and interviewing jazz musicians. Mr. Masekela I’m not writing you to discuss how I approach the music. I'm writing to congratulate you on making a fine album. It was easy for me to fall for “Phola” after only listening to it twice. In the liner notes, you said, “Phola" meant to be in a constant meditative state. That’s how I felt while listening to the album.
“Phola" was eclectic as well. Listening to some compositions made me feel like I attended a political rally and others such as “Moz” made me want to boogie. My favorite tracks were “Bring It Back Home” and “SonnyBoy”
On the former, you chastised the people who enjoy the employment and educational opportunities given to them after Apartheid was abolished, and how some have forgotten the struggles. You challenged them to bring their education and vocational skills back to their neighborhoods, villages, and communities to help inspire and uplift those less fortunate.
“SonnyBoy” was my second favorite song. It was an autobiographical song about self-actualization. On both “Bring It Back Home” and “SonnyBoy” you sang about what you experienced. That’s why “Phola” felt genuine and authentic.
On “The Joke of Life”, you made your trumpet sound like a human. You had an effortless quality on the instrument. Mr. Masekela “Phola” piqued my interest and I plan to log in more hours listening to it. Then I intend to explore some of your other recordings. I’m still playing catch up.
Continue to swing