Moses Taiwa Molelekwa - Genes and Spirits



Genes and Spirits (BWSA079)

The second solo album from one of the world's most gifted young pianists, the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa. This is an audio CD that also contains video clips and information about Moses which is read from the CD-Rom drive of a home computer.
Genes & Spirits is an album of contrasting moods and textures, from the staccato phrasing of Down Rockey Street to the stark lyricism of Sogra (Mmatswale/Mamazola). Infused with 'ubuntu', the intensely spiritual quality of black community life, this album pays its respects to South Africa's jazz past - but it has its feet firmly on the road to the future.


Check Moses' interview on the making of this album.



All songs composed & arranged by Moses Taiwa Molelekwa except

“Spirits of Tembisa”, by Moses Molelekwa and Andrew Missingham


All songs produced by Moses Molelekwa & Andrew Missingham except

“Dance to Africa”, produced by Moses & José Neto; Rapela produced by Moses

& Brice Wassy


All songs published by T. Tones Publishing


Recorded and mixed at: Rhino Studios Bophuthatswana, SA; Downtown Studios Gauteng SA; The

Garden London, UK; Real World, Bath, UK; Brownhill Farm,

West Sussex, UK; Livingstone Studios, London, UK.


Engineered by: Richard Mitchell; Jasper; Richard Edwards; Pete Hoffman; Mark

Braithwaite; Russell Kearney; Chris Lewis; Peter Thwaites (Dance to Africa)

Assisted by: Neelam; Sie Medway-Smith; Derek Fischer; Simon Burwell

Executive Producer: Robert Trunz


The enhanced portion of this CD+ was designed by Mark Allin @ Hypa Solutions: Photography by Peter Williams  Sleeve Design by Swifty


Taiwa’s Special Thanks: The Lord Almighty for giving me the ability to create music. May His name find glory and praise in my works.

My parents and my sisters for their constant encouragement and belief in me. All the engineers and musos who prepared the fire, flavoured stirred and mastered

the dish: “it’s a delicious one”. Flora Purim, Chucho Valdez, Brice Wassy (Pa-tshi-tshi), Jose Miguel, Khaya Mahlangu, Lawrence

Matshiza and Dennis Rollins for adding their magical touch to the album. It was an honour working with you. Russell Herman for ensuring that everything inside and outside the studio was in order.

My best friend and wife - Ndiyabulela Kwalo. This album is dedicated to my son, Sityebi Kagiso; “Zöe”

Track Listing (30 Second Samples) 

1. TSALA (4:56)
RAPELA (5:59)

Quotes from Ian Nicolson:

Take 24-year-old South African pianist Moses for example. He grew up in Tembisa - a township near enough to Jo'burg to make the contrasts painfully stark - listening to Parker, Miles and the fifties canon of immortals on wickedly expensivevinyl passed around like scripture from one believer to another. But all around him was the potent influence of Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim, Kippie Moketsi and Dudu Pukwana, and it's an updated version of their magical integration of late 20th century African harmonies, melodies and rhythms into modern jazz that Moses is after.

His second allbum for the "no boundaries" M.E.L.T. 2000 label - which specialises in modern music from Southern Africa - is a delightful dip into a barrel filled with seductive influences. Moses has layered Cuba (with celebrated Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes as mentor), Brazil (Flora Plurim's unmistakeable vocalisations), the Cameroon (funked up by Brice Wassy's infectious time-keeping), and even Bristol (just a lickle drum'n'bass from somewhere...) over his own instinctive township feels. The resultant blends are so cheering I think Taiwa's left hand could probably heal the sick - or at least make them feel a sight more chirpy. Heartily recommended.


Moses Taiwa Molelekwa: Voice Of The New Generation


A child plays in the dusty streets of Tembisa Township on Johannesburg’s East Rand. It is

1978. From one doorway floats the scratchy sound of a Charlie Parker album. From

another, an equally scratchy recording by alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi. And down

the street, live, on a bare piece of open ground, the complex, multi-layered polyrhythmic

drumming of a troupe of traditional Pedi musicians...


It’s from these three roots that Moses Taiwa Molelekwa’s unique jazz piano has grown.


South Africa is one of the few countries outside the USA where jazz has been a

genuinely popular music, and not the preserve of an elite. In the townships, American

jazz was (and is) purchased at great expense; heard avidly; the solos dissected with skill.

But there’s also a unique South African jazz heritage, blending folk styles, modern

instrumentation and big-band swing. In the marabi music of the 1940s and 1950s, three

chords and a two or four-bar sequence carried a hypnotic, constantly changing melodic

ribbon. The music grew, enfolding and adapting influences from bebop, free jazz and

rock, and - in a society of enforced migrancy between city and countryside - constantly

receiving fresh transfusions from a score of distinctive folk traditions. And it was dangerous

music: challenging the cultural categories and divisions of apartheid and the rules

which tried to legislate settled black citizens out of existence. It has its heroes (like the

legendary Moeketsi), its exiles (Masekela, Makeba, Dollar Brand, Dudu Pukwana, Chris

McGregor and more) and its own canon of standards - including many defiantly joyful

titles which threw apartheid’s laws back in its own face.

That musical heritage can be heard in Molelekwa’s complex, percussive left hand,

(‘NtateMohalo’) in fractured, staccato phrasing (‘Down Rockey Street’) and in the close-

to-marabi structure of ‘Itumeleng’. It’s also there in the stark lyricism of ‘Sogra

(Mmatswale/Mamazola)’, with its folk-like simplicity of melodic line. South

Africa sings in Molelekwa’s almost choral approach to instrumental arrangements,

and in his densely-textured use of percussion.

But there’s more to South Africa than rhythms and harmonies, and more

to this album than South Africa. The intensely spiritual quality of black community

life (“botho”/“Ubuntu” - respect for the humanity of others) is sewn with

unbreakable thread to its music. Apartheid’s project of de-humanisation created

spiritual tragedy and crisis in the townships. And Molelekwa, growing up in

the 1970s and 1980s, was also marked by that crisis. He told a film-maker:

“There was so much pressure, everyone had to find a way to let it out. The

pressure drove my best friend into crime; I’m lucky, I can deal with it through

my music.” Those emotions, too, are here: the warmth of friendship, the joy of

celebration and the regret for what has been lost.

The 1990s are a time of movement and hope for South African jazz.

There’s a rediscovery of musics which were pushed underground or into exile,

like the free jazzing of Brotherhood of Breath. And there’s a new process of

musical bridge-building to the sounds of the rest of Africa, to Asia and Latin

America and to the clubs of Europe and America. That process resonates on

this album in the collaborations with Chucho Valdez, (‘NtateMoholo’) and

singer Flora Purim (‘Sogra (Mmatswale / Mamazola)’). It dances through the

ragga flavours and programmed drums of ‘Spirits of Tembisa’.

What makes this work unique - and much more than the sum of its influences

is Molelekwa’s own voice as a musician, his vision and his technique.

Equally fresh are the approaches of his South African collaborators, in the main

young players from his own generation. This album pays its respects to South

Africa’s jazz past- but it has its feet on the road to the future.

Gwen Ansell, Johannesburg 1998