Audio: Neo Muyanga 'DIPALO: A Mixtape For Those Who Practice Counting'

Soweto-born avant-garde composer and performer Neo Muyanga 'DIPALO: A Mixtape For Those Who Practice Counting' is a mythic operetta.

Co-founder of the legendary Pan African Space Station with publisher Ntone Edjabe, Soweto-born avant-garde composer and performer Neo Muyanga studied the Italian madrigal tradition with choral maestro Piero Poclen at the United World College in Trieste, Italy from '91 to '93. In the mid-nineties, he built a following on both sides of the Atlantic as part of the acoustic pop duo Blk Sonshine, a musical partnership with Masauko Chipembere.

Constantly challenging boundaries, his most recent work The Flower of Shembe is a mythic operetta “based loosely on the lives of past messiahs and drawing on Mithra, the Persian deity, Jesus of Nazareth and Saint Yared in Ethiopia.” DIPALO: a mixtape for those who practice counting, composed, arranged and performed by Muyanga, was released as an audio supplement to issue 16 of Chimurenga magazine. It’s  complex and yet so endearingly beautiful.

>>>Stream: 'DIPALO: A Mixtape For Those Who Practice Counting'

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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