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Louis Moholo Moholo

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1940, Louis Moholo-Moholo has been one of the seminal figures in the international creative music scene since his emergence with the legendary Blue Notes in the early 1960s. Since this time, he has been at the heart of countless other classic line-ups, not least the Brotherhood of Breath, and his own projects such as Spirits Rejoice and Viva La Black. Alongside his profile as a bandleader, he has appeared worldwide and on record with a virtual who's who of modern creative music, including Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, John Tchicai, Marilyn Crispell, Irene Schweizer, Wadada Leo Smith, Keith Tippett, Kenny Wheeler, and Evan Parker, to name only a tiny number. 

In the mid-1960s, Moholo-Moholo toured South American with Steve Lacy, recording with him ‘The Forest and The Zoo’, widely thought to be the first ever fully improvised album. Returning to the UK, he joined Chris McGregor’s newly formed Brotherhood of Breath, a big band which stunned audiences around Europe with their own highly individual sound. Many other high profile groups, all featuring Louis, drew personnel from this iconic band, amongst them Mike Osborne’s Trio (with Harry Miller), Miller’s own Isipingo, Elton Dean’s Ninesense, and various groups led by Dudu Pukwana. 

Moholo-Moholo also led one of the most exciting groups of the time – the mighty Spirits Rejoice, featuring Evan Parker, Radu Malfatti, Nick Evans, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Tippett and the twin basses of Harry Miller and Johnny Dyani. 

During the eighties Louis toured America with Peter Brötzmann's trio, and continued to work throughout Europe leading his own groups and developing many musical partnerships, including duos with pianists Cecil Taylor in Berlin, and Irene Schweizer in Switzerland. 

Another important milestone in Louis's career was the forming in 1990's of his nine-piece band “Viva-La-Black”, which became the first group to tour South Africa, arranged by the British Council, as the lifting of Apartheid and freedom became imminent. More recently, he has been heard in duo with Wadada Leo Smith, as well as leading his ‘Unit’’. 

Featured releases

First studio recording of Louis’s latest group creating great, joyous, South African influenced music. "From its gamelan-like-opening cut, to its closing peaceful moments, this is world-class improvisation and masterful compositional thinking. The star of this session is of course the leader who gives his name to the quartet. Louis Moholo-Moholo, a powerful, effusive and sensitive drummer who moved from his native South Africa to Britain in the 1960s and became an important voice in the then burgeoning improvised music scene seems to have lost none of his exquisite verve and can still lay down some mighty flourishes on his kit. He's joined here by three other blokes who are much younger men, but pianist Alexander Hawkins, bassist John Edwards bass and saxophonist Jason Yarde are all up to the task of matching the leader's drive. The insistent, irrepressible "For the Blue Notes" which starts off the set, alludes to the drummer's legendary band of the 60s. Other historical references include the piece "Tears for Steve Biko," which is part lament, part protest song. The title cut is one solid blockbuster of a tune, with everyone going full throttle. The most loveable thing about this session recorded in November 2013 is that there's a balance of what has often been called "inside" and "outside" playing, as this quartet, with a finely-honed telepathic sense, works as a tight unit, even when each musician is pushing at the limit of cohesion and coherence in some of the wilder moments, of which there are many. But the music can downshift to a lullaby softness, as in 'Something Gentle" and sway gracefully in the waltz-time of "Angel-Nomali." There's lots to praise here, but just the magic of Moholo's playing, with its inevitable echoes of his phenomenal free jazz style of the 60s makes this a memorable release well worth having.' --- John Edwards / bassAlexander Hawkins / pianoJason Yarde / saxophoneLouis Moholo Moholo / drums ---

Louis Moholo-Moholo Quartet – 4 Blokes

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