HUGH MASEKELA

We chose Stimela because of the extreme dynamics and excellent quality of the recording.

Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned trumpeter, flugelhorn, and cornet player, as well as an acknowledged musical ambassador. Born in South Africa, he was exiled in 1961 and lived in the United States until the early 1990s when he returned to his home country.

Track: Stimela (The Coal Train) (H. Masekela/Irving)
Album: Hope (1993)
Label: Triloka
Appears on: DALI CD Vol. 1


Hugh Masekela became known for his contributions to the albums of his friends Harry Belafonte, The Byrds, and Paul Simon. He toured with the latter on the acclaimed but also controversial Graceland tour.

With the album Hope, recorded in 1993, Masekela realised his dream of recording "South African music in its truest contemporary forms." The songs on the album are a selection of the most enduring songs of his career and were recorded live at Washington DC's Blues Alley.

Stimela
Born in the coal-mining town of Witbank, a hundred miles east of Johannesburg, South Africa, his hometown harboured a large conglomeration of migrant labourers from Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, and many other parts of Southern Africa.

During his childhood, he was raised in a house where the miners would spend their weekends drinking and telling their miserable stories of the underground life in the mines. Years later, Hugh transformed their stories into Stimela. The song is compelling and its subtitle is vividly portrayed. Also of note is Masekela's flugelhorn solo, in which he demonstrates his musical skills.

Apart from the American No. 1 hit Grazin in the Grass and 1987 hit single Mandela - Bring Him Back Home, Stimela is probably the best-known song on the album. This track is also widely used as a demonstration track for hi-fi systems around the world.

We chose Stimela because of the extreme dynamics and excellent quality of the recording. The band grooves like there was no tomorrow and the laid-back performance forces the listener to ask: "How can there be anything so laid back and yet so tight at the same time?"

As a live recording, it's one of our favourites. It's as if you are actually standing there in front of the band on that sunny afternoon at Blues Alley. We like it very, very much.

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