I have known Zacks Nkosi—"Bra Zacks" as he is called by all his friends—for more than ten years and can sincerely say that he is a true and honest musician, born under the star of music. Always pleasant, amiable, willing and striving, but quietly insisting on what he thinks right and should be done. Never flying high, but always basically firm and solid in his approach to life as well as in his music.
His parents originated from Swaziland, but he himself was born in the well-known location, Alexandra Township, learning some music at the Roman Catholic Holy Cross Mission School, trying to master, as he himself says, the piano, bugle and clarinet at the age of ten years. Much has been achieved since then and I doubt if the teachers from the Mission School would have ever thought that "Bra Zacks" has, over the years, put into practice so successfully the small amount of guidance he received from them at that particular time.
His knowledge has been enlarged tremendously by hard training, improving his techniques and mastering, to use his own expression again, other instruments such as the saxophone, bass guitar and rhythm instruments, beginning to read and write music, playing all over South Africa, either in conjunction with other musicians in other bands, or with his own bands, in the early days—"The Jazz Havanas", "The Boogie-Woogies", and during the last ten years, "The City Jazz Nine" and "Zacks and his Sextet". From "The Blue Diamonds", the first group he joined via "The Jazz Havanas", "The Boogie-Woogies" and "The Jazz Maniacs", to his own last two bands, is a long stretch for any musician, but Zacks has always stuck to his principles of true and honest music giving tribute to his many tutor friends and musicians—amongst them, the late Boyse Ngwele and Solomon Cele, Jeff Adams Catriers, who is now in Sweden, and Abie Tetsoalo.
Zacks' first L.P. consists of his own compositions covering approximately seven years of his recordings for E.M.I, using some of his most successful works and played by both his bands.
I am certain all his many friends will want to have this L.P. in their collection as they should be able to recollect so well his struggle and success, his purity and honesty, his mood, his time and their time in which this music was recorded.
I am sure "Bra Zacks" still has a great future with us, as I would not like to miss his broad smile and his pleasant personality.
BANTU A. & R.
It is probable that this LP pressed on EMI's black and silver HMV label is a late sixties reissue of this classic 1964 album. Many of the South African HMV original pressings of the early to mid sixties feature the infamous dog and horn logo in colour on a red label. The album was again reissued on EMI Brigadiers' Music for Pleasure (MFP) budget labels: Number One and Skyline.
Our Kind of Jazz is Zacks Nkosi's first formal album consisting of a compilation of tracks that were originally released between 1956 and 1964 on 78 rpm. This album should not be confused with another classic album, the 1976 issue Our Kind of Jazz '77 and its reissue Our Kind of Jazz Vol.1. According to Rob Allingham, the 1975-76 sessions were Nkosi's last before his death in 1978 (Huskisson has his death on April 5th, 1980) and were released as two albums. The second, Our Kind of Jazz 77 was repackaged after Nkosi's death and retitled: A Tribute to Zacks Nkosi — Our Kind of Jazz Vol.1.
Zack's Nkosi, a legend of early African jazz and mbaqanga, was born in Alexandra township, Johannesburg in 1925. He received his first saxophone at the age of 15 and soon was performing with the Havana Group. After working with the Blue Diamond Jazz Band, Nkosi was invited to audition at the Bantu Men's Social Centre for Solomon Zuluboy Cele's Jazz Maniacs, the premium jazz band of it's time. He joined the Maniacs in 1940 and soon became their leading saxophonist. According to Yvonne Huskisson, after Cele's death in 1944, Nkosi became the Maniacs leader, though this account is contradicted by Horst Bergmeier who maintained that Wilson Silgee assumed leadership of the group. Silgee would go on to form his own group, King Force Silgee's Jazz Forces, and it is notable that Nkosi also performed with this group.
In 1956 Nkosi formed two groups, Zacks and his Sextet and the City Jazz Nine, to concentrate primarily on commercial recordings. Some of their most notable tracks between 1956 and 1964 are featured on this album.