Label: PVB Music - PVBC 6 • Format: Vinyl LP, Mini-Album • Country: South Africa • Genre: Jazz, Rock •
SA Rock Digest Issue 5714th May Bra' Mike, as he was known to his many friends and countless admirers, passed away Alluget! - Wad$quad* - Motor City Funkilation weekend at his home in Meadowlands after a short illness.
Although this ebullient and extremely talented jazz saxophonist had released a string of exceptional albums over the past 20 years, he never quite achieved the South African and international respect and Hello Stranger - The Carter Family - Wildwood Flower he, and many devoted fans, felt he so rightly deserved.
This was neither an arrogant outburst, nor a mean swipe at the organizers or industry. It was simply a fact, delivered honestly and with the intention of waking up those who have the power to harness the tremendous and often forgotten talent in our country. That was Mike Makhalemele, a man Mother - Mike Makhalemele - Mind Games whom the music was everything, and the rewards incidental.
His perceived lack of recognition did not stop this Alexandra Township-born musician from creating a body of work that stands testimony to his love for his country and the music that pours out of it. That, coupled with the influence of the American jazz albums circulating through Mother - Mike Makhalemele - Mind Games township, was the spur that set Mike on his musical path. He joined the group Drive in the '70's, alongside Khaya Mahlangu and Duke Makasi, and recorded the first of many solo albums - 'Peacemaker', 'Walking Spirit', and 'Peaceful Eyes' - during that time.
He received offers to visit the US and work with Chick Corea and Joe Henderson, but his heart was in South Africa and he preferred to remain and work with the music and musicians he loved. Makhalemele played, uncredited, on Paul Simon's 'Graceland' album, before recording his album 'Thabang' which was rapturously received, and which included one of his most famous compositions, 'Soweto Dawn'.
This album was given a worldwide release by Atlantic Jazz in But overall it is the great SA jazz saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi whose spirit hovered the strongest over 'Searching'.
No surprise there as Mike portrayed Kippie in a stage production at the Civic Theatre in Jo'burg in Mike also covered Strike Vilikazi's 'Meadowlands', and contributed five of his own pieces to an evocative and sparkling album that will stand as his fitting Rififi - Shaft. But there is another vinyl only album by Bra' Mike that is worth searching out.
Ratau Mike Makhalemele was 58 years old and is survived by his wife, four children, and five grandchildren. What remains is his legacy of devotion to South African music, his wide range of friends and fans, and his impressive catalogue of stirring SA jazz albums featuring his unmistakably languid and emotional sax playing.
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