Part 1: Flute (C)/Alto Sax (Eb)/Trumpet, Soprano Sax (Bb)
Part 2: Trombone (C)/Alto Sax (Eb)Trumpet (Bb)/Tenor Sax (Bb)
Part 3: Trombone (C)/Baritone Sax (Eb)/Tenor Sax (Bb)
Piano, Guitar, Bass, Drums
As an American jazz artist and educator based in South Africa since 1999, this is one in a set of pieces that reflect my musical and other experiences in this fascinating country.
Yearning – Ukulangazelela was first recorded on my CD Beauty and the Blues (MMC2045J) with jazz greats Billy Hart, Rufus Reid and Tom McKinley. The piece was inspired by the many great African musicians I’ve come to know from my travels to South Africa beginning in 1989. Yearningalso appears on the 2007 release of Common Ground (MSRJazz1207) in duo format with pianist Micu Narunsky.
Yearning – Ukulangazelela is dedicated to Barney Rachabane, one of my heroes of South African jazz who also has a very individual saxophone style. Barney has an incredible reputation as one of the most exciting, inventive and humorous (in a good way) players of township, kwela and mbaquanga based jazz. I’ve had the pleasure to play with Barney on many occasions and to also interview him regarding his approach (which is very different from my own) to playing the saxophone and jazz in general. As in all African music, the voice or vocal approach to playing and performance is a central ingredient. Outward vocal based expressions of emotion are part of African daily life. This really hit home when I asked Barney about his approach to music and the saxophone. He remarked that his approach was based on Ukulangazelela - a human cry & yearning “ ’cause (under former times) we had no gigs, no places to play, no nothing under apartheid.”
The reverent folk-like melody at letter A is repeated at letter B a tri-tone away. It’s important to bring out the melody in Part 3 at letter C. Stylistically this arrangement is reminiscent of 3/4 modal type jazz from the Hard Bop period (mid 1950s) and of the John Coltrane Quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. The solo background in all parts should only be played on the last chorus of each solo; be careful not to overpower the soloist.
Yearning – Ukulangazelela; a cry and yearning for a better world we hope to live in. Right on Barney!