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Mike Makhalemele - The Peacemaker


We Are Busy Bodies

Hailing from Alexandra and nicknamed "Ratau" (meaning "lion"), saxophonist Mike Makhalemele (1938-2000) was a force of nature with a robust yet soulful tone and seemingly endless breath. He embraced the pop music scene as an enthusiastic collaborator and staked his territory at the intersection of township grooves with modern currents in soul, funk and disco. As a solo artist, he delivered a formidable run of albums in the 1970s that that made him the most prolific recording artist in South African jazz during this era.

First issued in 1975 by the maverick independent label Jo’Burg Records, his debut The Peacemaker was a tour de force that introduced Makhalemele’s heavyweight sax prowess (deftly accompanied by Jabu Nkosi on keys and Sipho Gumede on bass) while showcasing his innovative approach as a composer and arranger. To mark the arrival of a new saxophone colossus, the album’s profile portrait cover boldly evoked the iconic Yakhal’ Inkomo by the Mankunku Quartet from 1969. Mike Makhalemele and Winston Mankunku Ngozi would go on to share the spotlight on a collaborative release entitled The Bull and the Lion in 1976.

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