BLACK MOSES “M9” – November 2004
Black Moses is back with a bomb! With his brand new release, “M9”, the long awaited follow up in his solo series; he once again ignites our groove with this fresh selection of timeless tracks. He affirms his return by opening with the explosive “Don’t Slow Down” – it’s pure energy, made even more inspiring in the light of his lifetimes achievements and ongoing endeavors.
His music has an infectious flavour – once tasted, there’s no turning back, and since the late ‘80’s, when the first of this series was released, his committed following has steadily grown. Anyone introduced to his sound, over the years, will surely attest that Black Moses is undoubtedly one of Africa’s foremost funk- masters – a keyboard king!
But beyond South African borders he is yet to be discovered. However, he is already internationally known, but rather as Moses Ngwenya, one of the two remaining founder members, of the legendary South African group, ‘The Soul Brothers’.
When ‘The Soul Brothers’ formed in 1974, they presented a whole new dimension to the popular Mbaqanga style, which was usually comprised of a guitar section [rhythm, bass and lead], sometimes accompanied by an accordion or concertina. Their addition of an organ, played by Moses, was a first – and it worked! ‘The Soul Brothers’’ instant popularity and ongoing success over the past thirty years can largely be attributed to the accessible compositions and hearty arrangements of this musical genius.
Initially however, Mbaqanga posed a challenge for Black Moses, as his
musical background was seeded in Soul Music, but he says “if you like your instrument, you’ll work hard”. And it obviously paid off, because with more than 36 albums behind them, and sales exceeding 4-million, ‘The Soul Brothers’ have consistently touched the hearts of millions.
Meanwhile, in the midst of their success, but rooted in his past, [which preceded the ‘The Soul Brothers’ formation], Black Moses was born – as a sideline, solo project.
This sound was first sparked in the late ‘60’s, when Black Moses and his three brothers formed a group called “Crocodile Soul”. Inspired by the likes of Booker T, Jimmy Smith, ‘The Teenage Lovers’ and ‘The Movers’, they explored a soulful blend that has unceasingly stayed within Black Moses.
Although he did his very first, little-known, solo recording in the ‘70’s, and was named Black Moses by the late producer, Hamilton Nzimande, his dream lay dormant until a decade later. In 1988, he decided to once again pursue this style of soul-inspired, jazz-funk and the first of the series, M1 was born. It was released on cassette only, as were “M2”, “M3” and the rest, which followed until 1995, when M7 was also made available on CD, and featured the hit “I Can’t Stop”. Three years later, this was followed by “M8”, another superb evolution of his eternal touch.
The first two of the series were reasonably marketed and well received, but when “M3” was assigned to a new label, there was almost no publicity. As the series grew, their exposure dwindled, and although the albums became increasingly difficult to access, his loyal fans remained unceasingly appreciative.
“M9” is a welcome offering – it’s a perfect introduction for those who have just discovered the Black Moses magic – and it’s a reward for those who’ve eagerly awaited his follow-up. But the biggest blessing in store, is surely for the maestro himself, for although he’s been at it for some time – it seems that it is only now, that the world is ready for the mastery of Black Moses! And this must irresistibly be echoed with one of the album’s killer tracks, “Make me say Yeah!”
“M9” has tracks with different tempos and explores a range of stylistic influences – from funk to jazz, through to Mbaqanga and gospel. But overall, it confirms that Black Moses has successfully achieved the soul appeal he has always sought – his sound is ageless, crossing the boundaries that separate generations, cultures and backgrounds – it unites through groove!
“Over the years, the Black Moses sound hasn’t changed, because it’s timeless…
it seems that everytime you write a song its gone forever, but here I want to
write a song that’ll last forever..” – Black Moses