Louis Moholo Octet

Louis Moholo (born March 10, 1940) is a South African drummer who has been active on the international avant-garde jazz scene since the early 1960s. Over the years, he has backed high-profile soloists from England, Italy, Germany, and the U.S., including Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, Elton Dean, Enrico Rava, and Peter Brötzmann.

Moholo first rose to prominence in Cape Town sextet the Blue Notes, which also launched the careers of pianist Chris McGregor, saxist Dudu Pukwana, bassist Johnny Dyani, and trumpeter Mongezi Feza. The band would make its way to Europe, add further members, and morph into the Brotherhood of Breath with McGregor’s name at the fore. The collective issued two studio albums during the early 1970s.

In 1971, Moholo recorded two albums with the London-based Afro-rock combo Assagai, which also included Feza and Pukwana. The next four years would see Moholo’s name appear on albums by Kees Hazevoet, Roswell Rudd, Mike Osborne, and Julie Tippetts.

In 1974, Moholo and Feza backed Pukwana on the popular In the Townships album on Caroline Records. Late the following year, Feza’s passing prompted the Blue Notes to reform for the 1976 double-album Blue Notes for Mongezi. Also in 1976, Moholo co-headlined the FMP release Messer with Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer and Polish saxist Rüdiger Carl.

In 1978, Moholo assembled his own namesake octet with, among others, saxist Evan Parker, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, pianist Keith Tippett, and old bandmate Johnny Dyani. The project’s one album, Spirits Rejoice!, appeared on Harry Miller‘s Ogun label. Numerous credits would follow over the next three decades, including collaborative works with Derek Bailey and Vincent Chancey.

Select discography:

  • Messer (1976 • Schweizer / Carl / Moholo)
  • Spirits Rejoice! (1978 • Louis Moholo Octet)
  • Tuned Boots (1978 • Schweizer / Carl / Moholo)
  • The Nearer the Bone, the Sweeter the Meat (1979 • Brötzmann / Miller / Moholo)
  • No Gossip (1980 • Keith Tippett & Louis Moholo)
  • Viva La Black (1988)

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