Malombo Jazz Makers - Down Lucky's Way



There may be a lack of bite in the way the Malombo Jazzmakers treat this showpiece, but there is ample time to weep, time to laugh and time to scoff.

Soon after listening to the record, I had asked Julian Bahula "What makes you play this kind of mixed-jazz-cum-trad?" I must say I was taken by surprise when the man came back with such a comprehensive reply (he's a shy cat you see). That showed his sincerity.

Julian said it was absolutely essential that African music should be developed for "It sorta plays part in the lives of our African people. We will try hard to improve out music and improve our music means we must express our feelings. We would not like to lose that essential African Art and we cannot be disinterested spectators while the rest of our tribes shatter themselves into the dust. We will bind ourselves through music. We shall play the indigenous jazz and not copy the polished kind of westernised music."

There is one haunting number that will get you on this trip. It is called "A tribute to Andrew Motjuadi." Lucky Ranku, the guitarist, who incidentally composed most of the numbers on the LP composed the song. The story behind this number is that Lucky wails for a lost friend, the late painter, Andrew Motjuadi. Not only was Andrew an ardent Malombo Jazz fan, but he bought Lucky a brand new expensive guitar.

Lucky opens the song with a painful picking wail, in the 3/4 time. There are strains of the famous "Willow Weep For Me" as the tune catches fire but that is where the resemblance ends. When Julian comes in with a crash of malombo drums, the feeling turns all African in the true Pedi Tradition. Man, this is crying. That crash of drums also sends the message home. Lucky picks up the tune at the tail-end to come to a whimpering end.

This is a very interesting experiment in jazz - having acts as a sort of comic relief after "Tribute". It is called "Bahula Dithabeng", a light swinging thing, with the two musicians still on it alone. Then comes the dramatic change, the catharsis.

Abe Cindi comes in playing a very powerful soprano alto. This is a very exciting instrument to start with, but with flutist Bahula on it, there is charm. Charm and magic.

It should be very difficult to mimic Malombo music after this disc has been released.



recorded 1969
issued 1969
made in South Africa
published by Music Publishers of Africa (M.P.A.)
SZB 8245
matrix ABC 28678
matrix ABC 28679
33 rpm
first issue
cover printed by Interpak
source: Francis Gooding



1.1Tribute to A. Motjoadi

(Lucky Ranku)

1.2Bahula Dithabeng

(Lucky Ranku)

1.3Gae Mamelodi

(Lucky Ranku, Julian Bahula)


(Lucky Ranku)


(Mogale Ranku)

2.6Lucky's Way

(Julian Bahula)



JULIAN BAHULA - drums, flute
ABBEY CINDI - soprano sax, flute



Many thanks to Francis Gooding for sending me the images of this very rare disc.

The track Tribute to A. Motjoadi is Lucky Ranku's tribute to his artist friend Tshidiso Andrew Motjuoadi who died in November, 1969. Motjuoadi is most well known for his highly detailed stippled pencil drawings of "Township life", but interestingly was also commissioned to paint the background to the credits in Cornel Wilde's 1964 film, The Naked Prey.