Healers as teachers

Recorded December 11, 1969 and first released in 1970, the album was later reissued with different titles (“Baraka”, “The Jazz Masters”) as by Don Cherry or Herbie Hancock (or both). Ed Blackwell – Percussion, Bells Don Cherry “Msafari” – Trumpet Herbie Hancock “Mwandisi” – Piano Albert Heath “Kuumba-Toudie” – Drums Jimmy Heath “Tayari” – Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone James Mtume – Congas, Voice Buster Williams “Mchezaji” – Bass Recorded in 1969 and first released in 1970, “Kawaida” is an interesting and problematic recording – first credited to Albert Heath (or at the time Kuumba Toudie Heath), it was later reissued with different titles (“Baraka”, “The Jazz Masters”) as by Don Cherry or Herbie Hancock (or both). In fact, this album was the concept of James Mtume (Mtume wrote four of the five tunes (Baraka, Kamili, Maulana, and Kawaida), with Albert Heath contributing the one (Dunia)), in spreading the teachings of Maulana Karenga’s Kawaida philosophy. Part of the US Organisation, James Mtume would hang out in Shelly Manne’s venue, spreading the work of Kawaida to the musicians there. He eventually, as a total unknown, managed to convince Herbie Hancock, Don Cherry, Buster Willams, Ed Blackwell, his father Jimmy Heath and Uncle Albert Heath to make this album. Albert Heath acquired the recording contract, which is the only reason this majority penned Mtume album was not credited to himself. Mtume wanted the album to be modal jazz, and not bop or free, as he insisted that modal was the only truly Black jazz. Albert Heath later admitted that they didn’t take Mtume’s message too seriously, and he was the only member of the band who genuinely had converted to the Kawaida philosophy. They did all allow him to give them non slave names, a practice of Kawaida, and Albert Heath and Herbie Hancock held on to theirs for other recordings they made. Either way, this album is an absolutely essential jazz masterpiece, with Herbie Hancock at the height of his jazz playing, swahili invocations, lots of percussion, and a deep spiritual vibe throughout.

One thought on “Healers as teachers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s