Isipingo was one of the many bands evolving out of the South-African expat scene in the UK in the 70s. Led by bassist Harry Miller, it existed in an on and off stage through most of the 70s. Isipingo only made one record during its lifetime, "Family Affair" released on the Ogun label in 1977. Fortunately, a concert in Bremen in 1975 was recorded by Radio Bremen and the Cuneiform label put out a cd of these tapes in 2006. This is to my knowledge the third recording of the band (and let's hope there's more out there).
This is a pretty rough audience recording from the 100 Club in London, but even if the sound leaves something to be desired, the music dosn't. What's here is a very lively one hour at the club, accompanied by chatter and the occasional tinkling of glasses. Three long pieces, basically, the last unfortunately cut off after eight minutes or so.
I've yet to figure out the title(s) of the first half-hour piece. It's a medley of sorts, starting off with what sounds like Clifford Thornton's work with the Jazz Composers Orchestra on "Gardens of Harlem" and then segues into (at about the 14-minute mark) a tune very much in the township style of the Blue Notes and other SA spin-offs. The second piece is "Eli's Song" which can be found on both of the official Isipingo records and the last (truncated) piece is "Family Affair", again on both of the records.
1. Medley - unknown/to be determined
2. Eli's Song
3. Family Affair
The line-up for this gig is:
Harry Miller - bass
Mike Osborne - alto sax
Malcolm Griffiths - trombone
Mark Charig - trumpet
Keith Tippett - piano
Louis Moholo - drums
By this time, Malcolm Griffiths had replaced Nick Evans on trombone and Mark Charig the deceased Mongezi Feza.
This is a fairly tight outfit and not as raucous and anarchic as the Brotherhood of Breath could be in full flight. While the South African influence is there, this band also has the full breadth and depth of the mainstream jazz tradition well down. Disciplined, yet free and explosive. Miller and Dyani as well has that particular rooted bass sound, "he plays that sort of bass that is felt in the pulses, throat, temples, wrists, he plays you (Brian Case from the liner notes to "Family Affair"). Rooted, yet high-flying.
Thanks to "Bernard" for seeding this one at Dime. It was posted as a tribute to Mike Osborne. And so it is, too.