Gideon Nxumalo – Gideon Plays


Gideon Nxumalo’s Gideon Plays might just be the most mythologized and sought-after LP in the whole South African canon. A sophisticated bop excursion with a distinctive African edge, it was only Nxumalo’s second LP as a leader, despite his crucial place in South African jazz history.

Pianist Nxumalo was a visionary jazz composer who had recorded regularly during the 1950s, and his 1962 Jazz Fantasia album was the first South African jazz recording to incorporate traditional African musical sources and instruments. But he was also the country’s most significant radio presenter and jazz tastemaker – from 1954 onwards, he had worn the nickname ‘Mgibe’ to introduce ‘This Is Bantu Jazz’, South African radio’s premier jazz show.

But in the aftermath of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1961, Nxumalo had been sidelined from radio play and was eventually sacked for playing records with political meanings. By 1968, he had not been heard on record or airwave for several years. Gideon Plays was a celebrated return to the studio for one of South Africa’s best-loved and most forward-thinking jazzmen, and it showcases Nxumalo’s deep understanding of jazz, his brilliant touch as a composer, and his commitment to bringing South Africa’s indigenous sound into the music.

However, it was released on the tiny JAS Pride label owned by production impresario Ray Nkwe, and after one pressing in 1968, Gideon Plays fell into the undeserved silence that has obscured so much of the South African jazz discography. It has since become a legend: hardly more than a rumour, it has been bootlegged by the unscrupulous, changed hands for eye-watering sums, and has scarcely been heard outside the circles of the most committed South African jazz devotees. It goes without saying that it has never been released outside South Africa, and even now only a handful of original copies are known to have survived.


Side A
01. Dimple
02. Welele
03. Lonesome Lover
04. Coffee Break

Side B
01. Nto Speaks
02. Rondo
03. Ingoma – The Song
04. Isintu

• Reissued with printed inner sleeves containing notes by Francis Gooding of The Wire and archival photography

• Audio restored, remastered, and cut for vinyl by Frank Merritt at The Carvery with heavyweight 180g vinyl pressed at Pallas in Germany

Includes unlimited streaming of Gideon Plays via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC, and more.

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