Where the African continent geographically descends into the Cape of Good Hope, sits Umlindi Wemingizimu, rising over 3000 feet into the South African sky. This translates into “The Watcher of the South”, today known as Table Mountain. The legend goes that its duty was to stand guard over anything evil or dangerous that may come from the south or the ocean. From the shores once inhabited by the San beach walkers and Khoikoi Bushmen, at the settlement at Table Bay known as Capetown, in the shadow of the mountain, began the life of a pilgrim on a devout journey (Haj), whose musical persona would transcend beyond the mundane, into spiritual echoes of Africa itself.
There was in the late 1950’s in the townships of South Africa, an acculturation of European and indigenous tribal music, a variety of rhythms and melodic intonations as the marabi which was a keyboard style of ongoing cycles. The mbaqanga which integrated with marabi, morphed into kwela jive which fused the Zulu indiamu with American jazz. This musical mutation was performed in the township shedeens (bars) in Capetown, and the area in Johannesburg, known as Sophiatown.
In the early 60’s the Sophiatown Modern Jazz Club was one such shedeen, in which local bands played their versions of the music of Bird and Diz. The club held a “Jazz at the Odin” series of shows featuring the bebop band The Jazz Epistles. This band consisted of local legend Kippie Moeketsi on alto saxophone, Jonas Gwangwa, trombone, Johnny Gertsee, bass, Makaya Ntshoko on drums, Hugh Masakela, trumpet, and a pianist named Dollar Brand.