Keleketla! Keleketla! is an extensive collaborative project that reaches outward from Johannesburg, London, Lagos and L.A. to West Papua. “Keleketla!” was founded by Coldcut, cofounders of Ninja Tune, and a group of South African musicians (introduced through the charity In Place Of War), which included the raw, South African-accented jazz styles and Yugen Blakrok (Black Panther OST). The record grew from those first sessions to include Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen, Dele Sosimi and legendary L.A. spoken-word pioneers The Watts Prophets and West Papuan activist Benny Wenda. The album’s collaborators include: South Africa sessions: Yugenblakrok, Nono Nakoane, Thabang Tabane and Tubatsi Movi, Sibusile Ngoveni, Sibusile Mabheko, Soundz of the South Collective, Ed ‘Tenderlonious,’ Cawthorne, Tamar Olsborn, Tamar Osborn, Tamar Osborn. The Lani Singers: Eska Mtungwazi. Jungle Drummer, Jungle Drummer, DeeJay random. The end product is a futuristic assemblage of influences that draws connections between different points in a jazzy-tipped, soulfully minded spectrum. It builds on the solid musical foundations of the first sessions with the likes Thabang Tabane (eminent percussionist, and son of Phillip Tabane), as well as other musicians such as DeeJay Random. There are gqom beats interwoven with activist chants as well as Tony Allen’s live Afrobeat drums. On the other hand, there is warm, lyrical meditations supported by keys and horns. The name Keleketla means “response”, which is also known as “call-and response”, and it speaks to the project’s goal: to create a common musical ground that can be traced across continents. It all began with Johannesburg’s Keleketla Library is an independent library that also supports media arts and has been stocked with donated items since 2008. Rangoato Malahlela and Malose Malahlela are artists and musicians. Ruth Daniels, of charity In Place of War (where part of the proceeds of the record will be donated), approached them and asked them who they would pick to collaborate with South African artists. Ra and Malose were named Coldcut. The British Council supported the invitation for them to travel to South Africa to record the sessions. This was the beginning of the story. They had a long-standing interest in South African jazz and were connected to the musicians through Andrew Curnow (Mushroom Hour Half Hour founder), who has been part of the forefront of new jazz-influenced acts from Jo’Burg. They recorded their songs at Trackside Studios in Soweto. Black and More returned to the UK and sought out additional collaborators. They set up sessions with musicians who could help expand and reimagine the album’s possibilities. This meant that many of the tracks were built on sessions in Soweto. Sometimes they lead to entirely new tracks, like ‘Freedom Groove,’ which was created from a spontaneous jam between Tony Allen and Matt Black. Allen’s drum part was used to create a new track. The track also features an arrangement of Black and More, consisting of Soundz of the South who sing a revolutionary chant. The single version includes a gqom track produced by Durban producer DJ Mabheko. They were partly inspired by their experience with the Keleketla. Library hosted a party during their stay. The party saw Hlasane, the co-founder of the library, transform a student chant into an upbeat moment in his set. This sent the crowd into a frenzy. They were reminded how intertwined music and politics can be. Black recalls that it was almost a spiritual experience to see how music can have an effect on galvanizing the audience. Similarly, ‘Papua Merdeka’ is centered around a political invocation. Benny Wenda leads the call for West Papua to be free from Indonesia. Wenda fled Indonesia in 2004 and was persecuted by the Indonesian army. The campaign is being led by Wenda from Oxford, where he recorded the vocals. Tony Allen, who is the rhythm behind Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat Revolution, recorded the drums along with Miles James. Miles James is a guitarist who has played with Yussef Dayses and Michael Kiwanuka, and who – as a son of an old friend – was featured in a Coldcut video at the age of one. “Keleketla!” refers to making musical connections. Begin with the close community of the Keleketla! This project grew out of the close-knit community around the Keleketla! More recalls the music he was exposed to and the friendships he made in South Africa. From bandcamp

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