The Art of Hukwe Ubi Zawose

COMPOSERS: Hukwe Ubi Zawose
LABELS: JVC World Sounds
WORKS: World
PERFORMER: Hukwe Ubi Zawose, Dickson L Mkwama, Lubeleje M Chiute
CATALOGUE NO: VICG-5011-2

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A more spectacular assembly of these endlessly adaptable little instruments (thumb pianos) features in the Tanzanian group led by Hukwe Ubi Zawose. And they’re not always so little this time: one of them has 66 keys and combines with the others to create an amazing resonance of wood and metal.

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The opening number, with its mellow chordal voices, has a near-Californian ambience of sustained harmony that it’s hard to believe is unamplified. A highly polished ensemble, it was recorded on a 1989 tour in Tokyo and also includes pieces with flute and bowed strings. Several of the texts are quite political, two of them turning the spotlight on South Africa at the end of the apartheid era.