Mankunku Quartet – Yakhal’ Inkomo
Saxophonist Winston ‘Mankunku’ Ngozi’s 1968 masterpiece Yakhal’inkomo stands in the front rank of global jazz recordings. A certified jazz classic in South Africa, it has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has never been out of print. But like so many other crucial South African jazz LPs, it was never released outside the country, and went unheard at the time by the wider world. This reissue is the first time that this truly essential jazz recording has been properly available outside South Africa.
Mankunku’s masterwork is one of those rare recordings whose audience saw at once that it embodied the spirit of the age. The title, ‘Yakhal’inkomo’, refers to the bellow made by a bull just before it is sacrificed, and the mourning cries of its fellow cattle as they see it struck down. For South African listeners, the reference was understood as a cry against the violence and brutality of the times, and an act of mourning for all those who were suffering under the barbarity of apartheid.
Mankunku’s horn spoke eloquently and profoundly for and to an oppressed people, and like Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, the album became the musical touchstone for a generation. From today’s historical vantage point, Yakhal’inkomo appears as not just an indispensable lost element of the international jazz canon, but as one of the towering cultural documents of its time.
Fully licensed, and packaged with a new sleeve note by Francis Gooding and prevoiusly unpublished photographs from the Basil Breakey archive, this trail-blazing release on Jazzman allows Mankunku’s classic work to gain its deserved place on the international stage.