The African Groove Experience by "Spha" Bembe
The African Groove Experience is an album that will be met with much admiration from groove lovers, and probably quickly gain the approval of people not yet familiar with the greatness of Groove.
"Hugh Masekela - you're the greatest. This horn you gave me has a message for the world," says Siphamandla "Spha" Bembe, who has been likened to a modern-day Masakela and is just the right man to convey that message.
A celebration of classic fusion sounds, with the unmistakable contemporary character of groove that you simply must take the time to indulge in. This is a fresh and inspired album with a healthy dose of nostalgia, and its smoothness makes it immensely satisfying to listen to. It's uplifting African jazz at its best.
This groovy album from "Spha", produced by award winner Thapelo Khomo and featuring Jam Shack, is filled with the smooth sounds of flugelhorns, saxophones, flutes and swirling keyboards, delightfully played over laid-back beats. It's a groove extravaganza and would not be out of place in the world's best champagne groove bars and trendy restaurants - or simply in your lounge or car!
This is Siphamandla "Spha" Bembe's first original solo release and is a fine example of his extraordinary flugelhorn abilities. Bembe has played in bands led by the likes of Blondie, Ringo and Tsepo Tshola and went on to become a member of legendary South African group, Stimela.
The African Groove Experience was nominated for Best Instrumental Album at the 2008 South African Music Awards (SAMAS), and is the realisation of a long-awaited collaboration with Thapelo Khomo, one of South Africa's pre-eminent producers who has won back-to-back South African Music Awards for Producer of the Year, and who is also the keyboardist for Stimela.
Anyone who is a fan of African jazz will recognise a number of influences in this album, from Hugh Masekela and The Movers to the African Jazz Pioneers. This results in an album that is both wonderfully fresh and one which acknowledges of its musical roots at the same time, making it not just a worthwhile, but an essential, addition to the collection of any African jazz & groove lover.
Even before you listen to this album, its packaging will give you a telling indication of the music you can expect to hear. Soft yet vibrant colours give a warm character to the album's whimsical and quirky design elements and illustrations, which all adds up to an overall package that is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to listen to.
Where to listen to this album? Don't be surprised if you hear it being played in cocktails bars, restaurants and groove bars in Cape Town and around South Africa - this is definitely music that you can easily enjoy whether out with friends, or home alone with the volume turned up high.