The Washerman’s Dog, having landed in the magical musical kingdom of South Africa, has decided to stick around for a few more days and in this post shares the grooves of another very accomplished jazz guitarist.
Selaelo Selota like Vusi ‘The Voice’ Mahlasela, is one of South Africa’s hardest working contemporary musicians. Born near Pietersburg in northern Limpopo Province, the young Selaelo gained his exposure to music through a series of jobs. As a worker in the gold mines he heard traditional songs, rhythms and melodies from other parts of the country and indeed, southern Africa, sung by the migrant workers who flocked to the mines around Jo’burg.
After a few years he found work in Johannesburg itself and worked for some time cleaning up a local jazz club (Kippies) after hours. Immediately taken by the music he bought a guitar took some lessons and before too long was good enough to be a teacher at the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) Academy. In the early-mid 90s, as a new democratic South Africa was born, Selaelo was playing in his first band, Taola, as a platform to show off his own compositions. By 1997 his meteoric rise was confirmed by winning a major South African jazz award and his commitment to the form was demonstrated by graduating with a degree in jazz from the University of Cape Town in the same year.
Selaelo has played all around Africa and internationally and shared the stage with the great George Benson, with whom he has frequently been compared. He is a passionate lover and promoter of jazz but more than anything else loves to play his music live.
Lapeng Laka is his 5th album released in 2009. Sung entirely in his native tongue of sePedi, the album’s name means ‘in my house’. The sound is slick and Selota’s singing voice is strong, especially in the mid-ranges. What is really nice about this collection though is the way the album hangs together as a set that blends traditional languages and tunes with a very sophisticated, contemporary jazz sound. As mentioned above there will be moments here where you’ll swear George Benson is playing and the only gripe is that Selota doesn’t give us more. But all in all, this is a very nice record that grows in stature and depth with every spin.
1. Lapeng Laka
3. Tshipi Sepanere
5. O Tshwana Le
7. Mala A Mpsa
8. Ka Leleme Le
10. Thusa Hle Malome
11. O Morena