This deep soul-jazz double-sider, recorded on October 3rd 1972, was released as a seven-inch single on Motella, one of the many labels of the Mavuthela Music division of Gallo Africa (now Gallo Record Company). Mavuthela was founded by the talent scout and producer Rupert Bopape in 1964. This recording of 'The Toreadors', a one-off session group, was produced by Ray Nkwe who worked as an independent producer for several different companies and was responsible for organising many African jazz-oriented sessions in the 1970s and early 80s.
On first hearing the A-side ‘Thembi’ (written by Ray Nkwe) you’ll wonder why you haven't heard this song before, but simultaneously be struck with a sense of instant familiarity. It has a loose floating jazz vibe with echoes of 60's hippy, psychedelic soul-jazz qualities, and elements that remind us of acts such as The Deirdre Wilson Tabac. The vocal deliveries are stunning, hauntingly beautiful, and from a place where it is hard to pinpoint just where this song originates.
The B-side, ‘Gwinyitshe', is also absolute fire. This song has gained more coverage and notoriety among South African music fans / collectors and DJ's over the years. It is a deep, pulsing soul-jazz-funk groove with another exceptional vocal performance that is relaxed yet engaging and spiritual, whilst managing to surf the instrumentation to perfection. 'Gwinyitshe' was written by one of the sleeping giants of South African music, Teaspoon Ndelu, who also plays on the record and whose material we can't get enough of here at Mr Bongo.
When you think you have all the records you need a gem like this resurfaces from the past, reminds you that you've only scratched the surface and there is still a wonderful treasure trove out there to enrich you and your music collection. So dive into The Toreadors world briefly, your day will be the better off for it.