Release date:
November 10, 2023
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Hailing from Cape Town, tenor saxophonist Winston Mankunku Ngozi (1943-2009) is a venerated figure in the pantheon of South African jazz. Inspired by Coltrane while rooted in indigenous folklore, he released the classic album Yakhal’ Inkomo at the outset of his career with the Mankunku Quartet in 1969. Backed by the Cliffs, Alex Express documents Mankunku’s return to the studio in 1975 with a handful of new and original compositions and his inimitable tone on full display. Shaking off the burden of Yakhal’ Inkomo, which was heralded as an earnest manifesto for modern South African jazz, the album is a carefree affair that leans into township grooves with joyful exuberance. In addition to a collaborative project with Mike Makhalemele entitled The Bull and the Lion, Alex Express is the first of just two rare snapshots of Mankunku in the 1970s. Disillusioned by the recording industry, it would take until his resurgence in the 1990s for Mankunku to flesh out his recorded legacy.

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