Jason Yarde Remembers Hugh Masekela

Jazz Sundays return to The Pickle Factory this Sunday, following a revelatory year in 2017 which included performances from modern jazz greats Ezra Collective, Louis Moholo-Moholo and Shabaka Hutchings. These bi-monthly evenings will continue to be curated by revered jazz drummer Tom Skinner, and will once more see The Pickle Factory transformed into a cosy late night jazz spot, replete with extra comfy seating, lush red drapes, hanging vintage lightbulbs and a bespoke cocktail menu.

This Sunday, Tom Skinner invites Jason Yarde’s WAH! TRIO!, supported by two very special guests who will perform under the secret moniker JAE. Jason Yarde is a renowned multi-sax player, known for blending the genres of jazz, reggae, hip-hop and R&B, and for collaborating with the LSO, the Jazz Warriors and compositions with the recently passed Hugh Masekela. Ahead of the show, Jason took some time away from his hectic recording schedule, to tell us a little about his relationship with Hugh Masekela, and why his music is so deeply influenced by the late trumpeter legend's work..

Hugh Masekela – ‘Languta’ from Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz (1973)

Yes, here is another small tribute to the life force that is, was and will always be Bra Hugh Masekela. As a saxophonist born of the 70’s you’ll forgive the slight biased in this list! I believe Hugh was well into double figures of albums released at this time and naturally many would follow. Added to that I can’t help reflecting on the influence and importance of something as totally messed up (I would use another word but I think it’s a family show!) as apartheid undoubtedly had on Masekela’s (and countless other South African musicians’) output, spirit and necessity to travel and collaborate over many years. While I’m grateful we have a whole pile of great music to listen to, the ends can never justify the meanness.

Hugh Masekela - ‘Minawa’ from Home Is Where The Music Is (1972)

Here’s Hugh in the fine company of a Ghanian band recorded in Lagos. Grooves from start to finish on this LP, you could put your needle down anywhere but why not start at the beginning. There is an excitement and steadiness in both Hugh’s singing voice and horn in this period.

Hugh Masekela - 'Ashiko' from The Boy’s Doin’ It (1975)

A beautiful song from a beautiful album. There are lots of great songs from South African composers and saxophonists on here, particularly from co-producer Caiphus Semenya. But in this instance I’d highlight Sekou Toure’s sole contribution. Hugh’s horn is heard alongside that of Dudu Pukwana’s Alto and both deliver fire on this otherwise chilled vibe.

Of course this piece is composed by the great muso supremo Orlando Julius, and his identity is all over the production. It’s been my pleasure to also work with Orlando a great deal in recent years since making an album in collaboration with the Heliocentrics and I (not so secretly) harboured a desire with a distinct, if not slim possibility of reuniting these greats of World music at least on record. Sadly it was not meant to be.

Photo Credits: Kevin Leighton

Fancy joining us on Sunday? Grab an advanced ticket here.