Listen to enigmatic, innovative seer and composer-band leader Doctor Philip Tabane’s set, recorded live at St. George’s Cathedral on September 30, 2010
The Dr is a giant in South African music. Since the early 60s he has forged a musical path that defies boundaries, channelling the voices of his ancestors, the Malombo spirits of Venda, through rich polyrhythmic African beats and alchemic free jazz improvisation.
While Tabane has toured internationally, playing with jazz greats like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Charles Mingus, his home is in South Africa with Malombo. Here, working with an ever-shifting cast of musicians, his Malombo Jazz Makers, the master lets loose with intricate improvisation and free-form soloing that trace the linage of gospel, blues and funk back to its African roots.
But Malombo is not just music. It’s an individualised spirit force that uses song and dance as a vehicle of expression. It’s Tabane eschewing traditional cord structures as he fashions harmonious sound around the innuendo of his voice. It’s the Doctor, dressed in snakeskin trousers, injecting his Gibson hollow-body with an insatiable sense of discovery, coaxing free form sounds by hitting the strings or sparking otherworldly melodies from feather light plucks. It’s energy music, a potent life force that reignites black consciousness and speaks to the soul while insisting you get up and dance.