Friday, 25 August 2017

Single from Dizu Plaatjies

A re-worked version of a track from Dizu Plaatjies award winning album, African Kings, has been prepared for release as a single.

Link to the track - PLAY

The track is called Danse Afrika. It has been mastered specifically for mobile device play with an eye on the streaming platforms like Spotify. The track gained quite a bit of attention when the album was released and members of Dizu's band, Ibuyambo described it as a "township shabeen hit" because it was played a lot in Cape Town township pubs.

The original title is Giya Kasimore - Danse Afrika . The song was written by Dizu in the 1980s and formed part of his live repertoire at the time. The newer version is a bit more pop/dance in its production style, though still with neo-traditional elements.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

RIP Errol Dyers, a quiet genius of the guitar.

It is with deep sadness that I heard last night of the passing away of one of the humble giants of South African Music, Mr Errol Dyers. My condolences go out to this family and friends.

Errol Dyers live on stage circa 1982 - (c) P Lee-Thorp

There are many personal moments, some hilarious, that come to mind when I think of Errol.  Some of these are too embarrassing to mention publicly, though none that I regret. I will remember him as a gentle, polite man and a highly talented, some might say old school musician.

He had a long career working with many of the bigger and lesser known names in SA music. My association with Errol goes back to the 1980s, before he focussed his attention on Jazz. He was a talented rock guitarist and session man who played in pop bands and my first chance to work with him was when he supported Lesley Rae Dowling as one of the musicians who played in her live band.

It was as a recording artist and songwriter that I knew Errol best. Firstly as part of the Robbie Jansen group. We were working on Robbie's debut solo album, Vastrap Island,  and Errol was involved in the pre-production sessions. As it turned out he contributed 2 compositions to that album and of course played on the final recordings.

In his later years Errol became more interested in the cultural side of the music he played and he moved to explore the Cape roots more deeply. Our paths crossed many times after the first recordings as a regular member of Robbie's band and as a session player on other productions for my label. In particular I am grateful his part in the tracks on the Cape Jazz records we released.

Later while performing with Basil Coetzee as a part of his duo, having replaced the late Paul Abrahams, Errol came to the studio with Basil to record on what was to be Basil's final solo album, B.  Errol contributed 2 songs to that album as well.

Errol Dyers in Milestone Studios July 2012 - (c) P Lee-Thorp

I was very happy to have his contribution to the last project I worked with him in 2012 and 2013, doing the Cape Jazz Band project, Musical Democracy. He was a full member of the line-up and played on most of the album tracks and contributed as composer and arranger to at least 4 songs. His cheerful Goema melody, NY 29 (Native Yard 29) on that record typifies his style.

Errol was a versatile player with the ability to play different styles on acoustic and electric guitar and he did it with his own personal approach and character.  He will be greatly missed by all in the Cape music scene.  I am comforted by the memory of his friendship and thankful for the many recordings he did for Mountain Records.

A snap of Errol live at Swingers in 2013 in Cape Town, possibly the last time we met.  (c) P Lee-Thorp

Paddy Lee-Thorp
Hamburg, Germany.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Quarter Tone Guitar album launch in Amsterdam

Dutch guitar player and composer, Jan Wouter Oostenrijk will launch his new album, We are Connected with a concert in Amsterdam on the 28th May.

He will play with his trio at the Mezrab (formally the Wilhelmina Pakhuis), Veemkade 576, Amsterdam.  The evening will be opened with a set by a local world DJ at 19.00 with the live band on stage at 20.00 .

Jan Wouter, Live in Tunisia, Pic - Houcem Boudaya

The album issued on the Mountain Records label, features songs written by Jan Wouter specially for his quarter tone guitar. The instrument is a 1980s Fender Strat rebuilt by an Amsterdam luthier, Gijs de Wit,  to accommodate the Arabic scales used in the recordings.

Jan Wouter has referred to north African music in his previous albums but until now not had the comfort of a guitar able to produce the required notes. We are Connected is described as Maghreb Rock and is a blend of European and African music.

Link to album details - About the songs - Mountain Records releases
Spotify -
iTunes -

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Jan Wouter quarter tone guitar project, release date set.

The street date for Jan Wouter Oostenrijk's new quarter tone guitar album has been set. The album will be released on the 26th of May 2017.

Titled, We are Connected, the Rock Maghreb album is the next release on the Mountain Records label. The title refers to the cross over in the musical styles between western rock and African music. It also avers to the idea of people with differing cultural roots being connected through music.

This quarter tone guitar project is particularly interesting because Jan Wouter had to re-build the fingerboard of his 1981 Fender electric guitar in order to be able to perform the music he had written. The songs are inspired by north Africa, and make use of arabic musical scales.

Jan Wouter has a number of previous albums to his name in Jazz and Blues but this time he has recorded a progressive Rock album. The band is a classic, drums, bass and guitar line up adding some guitar and percussion overdubs.

The album is all instrumental. Initially the release will be available as a CD and through digital distribution sources.
Pic - Arnold van der Zee

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Mountain Records to issue Compact Album by Rock Maghreb guitarist

Part of the answer to the search for an economically viable alternative to the old album format is the Compact Album.

Mountain Records will issue the new project of north African inspired sounds by Dutch guitarist, Jan Wouter, as a compact album.

Asked what this means, the label owner Patrick Lee-Thorp explained as follows. "Consumer trends away from the old 60 plus minute album have devastated most labels. Young fans, in some genre, consume music in track sized bites and they select their favourite album tracks on personal playlists leaving out much of the album content. In addition the price of online sourced music makes a retail album of €17,00 un-competitive. By issuing 6 songs on an album of appox. 30 minutes in length, we reduce the production bill and distill the artistic statement."

"One of the highest costs in album making is the post recording production, this includes multiple mixes and additional overdubs to get the tracks to the point of satisfaction of the artist. So after the initial sessions, a decision is made about which tracks will be taken further. Depending on the pre-production process, this does leave some takes on the cutting room floor, but by a process of natural selection I think the important ones survive. This concentrates the creative energy on fewer tracks."

"Jan Wouter sent us rough mixes and the selection process began. He had some support for his production and spent this wisely in my view by not spreading the recourses too thinly. Like virtually all productions it went over budget but not so that the final product has to be over priced."

This is not the first album issued by the label between EP and LP in length. Basil Coetzee's Sabenza vinyl only release, was a big success for the label and ran to only 35 minutes. Other labels have also moved to shorter programs, particularly with the resurgence of vinyl. But until now no one has tagged the format, according to the label.

"The plan with Jan Wouter's new release is to go to CD first and then follow up as vinyl. There are already  over 100 pre-orders, so I think vinyl will happen. The package will be attractively priced, but still with a full booklet in a digipak."

 "It sort of happened this way and I feel we are onto something here," said Lee-Thorp.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Mountain Records signs special quartertone guitar project.

Mountain Records, the world and jazz label now based in Hamburg, Germany have signed a license for an album master with Dutch guitarist and composer Jan Wouter Oostenrijk. The project is special because it will feature a quarter tone electric guitar developed to accommodate Maghreb style music.

Jan Wouter, Live in Tunisia, Photo Houcem Boudaya 

Jan Wouter has previously recorded jazz and blues with roots in the Maghreb. He built his electric guitar to use in recording the material on his new album. Where the early Lute or Oud can accommodate the Arabic scales more easily, the western style electric guitar can not comfortably provide a player the ability to play the notes between the fixed frets on a normal guitar fretboard.

No date is set for the new release but Jan Wouter, who also produced his new record, is mastering at present in Amsterdam. The music is progressive rock with north African and Arabic influences.

Mountain, whose motto is, "music inspired by Africa", was started in Cape Town and is the home of award winning world music artist, Dizu Plaatjies.  The label is also known for its promotion of Cape Jazz.

The label is no stranger to guitar releases having produced the first two records of acoustic jazz guitarist, Jonathan Butler.  Also issued on the imprint was an album of Afro-rock sounds by Brazillian guitarist, Celso Fonseca and the only studio album of the guitarist and folk poet, Jean Bosco Mwenda, originator of the Shaba guitar sound of East Africa.

Label Link -