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Ubuntu by David Borgo

Virtuoso saxophonist David Borgo has released Ubuntu, a breathtaking album inspired by eight songs of Abdullah Ibrahim. Ubuntu is a lyrical, educational and exceptional creation. Accomplished reedist Borgo is also a scientist (Dr. in Ethno-musicology), writer and pedagogue at the University of California. Thus, his music is interdisciplinary by nature.

"Nikosi Sikelel ‘iAfrica," "Gdwidza," "Letter to South Africa," "Tintinyana" and "the Wedding" feature two swinging - bebop-like saxophonists: David Borgo and Tracy McMullen. Borgo’s skill with the pennywhistle is gracefully introduced on "Msunduza." Bassist Scott Walton and drummer Nathan Hubbard provide an amazing accompaniment while trombonist George Lewis bring into effective action imaginative interventions.

Borgo’s South African jazz rhythms are full of new ideas; the result being a very touching music with tons of swing. The line up of this CD aims to somehow reach perfection:

Trombonist George Lewis is full of surprises as always with his ability to play his horn with voices sliming into free-jazz. Lewis has played with Barry Altschul, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Lester Bowie, John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Irene Schweizer, J.D. Parran, Joel Ryan, Joëlle Leandre, Michel Portal, Misha Mengelberg, Miya Masaoka, Roscoe Mitchell, Sam Rivers, Steve Lacy, and Wadada Leo among many others.... On this release, Lewis has mastered his attacks at just the right time and space playing around the pulse while the swing still keeps its groovy pace, especially in the tracks "Eli’s song" and "Black Lightning."

Saxophonist Tracy McMullen is a multi-faceted musician and alongside her powerful chops, she studies the corporeal logics of performance along with the creation of knowledge and meaning, all the while being in the act of performing/improvising. Her inventiveness and sparkling approach to contemporary jazz is enlightening in "Nikosi Sikelel ‘iAfrica", and "the Wedding."

Pianist Anthony Davis is a great performer with expertise in both classical chamber music and contemporary jazz. Davis’s sense of orchestration and the perfection of every note he plays in "Ubuntu" are joyful and dazzling on "Black Lightning," "Blues For A Hip King" and "Eli’s song." Rick Helzer is widely acclaimed for his piano arrangements. His rich timbres and dexterity on "Tsidi" and "Which Way" are amazing.

Bassist Bob Magnusson's rhythmically charged solo sections demonstrate how he can master and explore musical approaches while maintaining his voice throughout the whole recording. His strings are criminally groovy on "Which Way" and "Nikosi Sikelel ‘iAfrica." The eclectic Scott Walton manages to input a blunt rhythm, hammering down the beats on "Tsidi" and "Which Way."

Percussionist Bob Weller hits with his sticks and cymbals in a soothing way totally pleasing and inspiring on "Which Way" and "Blues for a Hip King". Nathan Hubbard plays with an unmatched rhythmic impetus and shape on "Gwidza", "Msunduza" and "Letter to South Africa".


David Borgo has achieved (together with his cats) to astonish us with an anthropologic, folkloric work filled with an historical dimension. Ethno-musicologists are also known as cultural psychologists, even poets: this is perhaps the treasure hidden in this album.... .

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: David Borgo
  • CD Title: Ubuntu
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Cadence Jazz Records
  • Tracks: Nicosia Sickle ‘iatrical, Eli’s Song, Tidy, Which Way, Blues for a Hip King, Black Lighting, Msunduza, Dedication, Gdwidza, Letter to South Africa, Tintinyana, The Wedding
  • Musicians: David Borgo (soprano and tenor saxophones, pennywhistle), George Lewis (trombone),Tracy McMullen (soprano and tenor saxophones), Anthony Davis (piano), Rick Helzer (piano), Bob Magnusson (bass), Scott Walton (bass), Bob Weller (drums), Nathan Hubbard (drums)

  • Rating: Five Stars
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