World Seven release collectors’ jazz gem: Pacific Express’ ‘On Time’

World Seven continue their fine foray into world music classics with another hard-to-find jazz classic from South Africa in 1978. Besides the success in southern Africa this album became a regional hit as a pirated music cassette in Nigeria. It was also released in France and Japan.

Pacific Express emerged from Cape Town, South Africa in the 1970s. The band were from the so called ‘Coloured’ community and were ground breakers in both musical and political arenas.

The team at World Seven explains: “On several occasions the group fell foul of Apartheid laws and discrimination by the state broadcaster, SABC. On one occasion they were asked to leave the stage of an international tour by Australian act John Paul Young, because the law forbade racially mixed performers on the same stage. The promoter, management and band members all resisted and once the incident made the Australian newspapers the authorities had little choice and turned a blind eye.”

This album features founding members Paul Abrahams (bass), Jack Momple (drums) and Issy Ariefdien (guitar) and were joined by Chris Schilder (piano), Vic Higgins (pecussion), Barney Rachabane (alto sax), Stompie Manana (trumpet) and Zayn Adams amd Kitty Tshikana on vocals for this second album.

The band would go on to record one further LP in 1979 and a single in 1981. They carried on performing past that and their years together as a band acted as central hub for jazz musicians within the Cape Town area. Players such as Tony Cedras, Jonathan Butler and Alvin Dyers were able to gain experience alongside established names.

This World Seven release follows the sublime reissue of Michel Sardaby’s Gail LP.

Pacific Express ‘Black Fire’ LP is one of the standout jazz releases of this year

Matsuli Music has added the debut album of this Cape Town ‘supergroup’ to their growing catalogue of  South African Afro-jazz  reissues.

New liner notes from acclaimed jazz historian Gwen Ansel explains how this album successfully fused multiple styles in 1976 forging a new sound from what was ‘Cape Town Jazz’, Latin, R&B, soul, pop and fusion.

Black Fire presents the core repertoire that made Pacific Express the resident band sensation they became at the Sherwood Lounge in Manenberg, Cape Town in the mid-seventies. The ‘coloured’ township of Manenberg – about 20km away from Cape Town’s city centre, and cut off from the black settlements of Gugulethu and Nyanga by a railway track – had been officially established in 1966. The apartheid regime had defined different “racial groups” and forcibly moved people from various suburbs and allocated them to ‘white’ people.  The Sherwood Lounge was located close to the highway and people flocked to the venue for music.

World Treasures Music will present a Matsuli label feature on Thursday, July 20th, at 2pm (GMT), on Kmah Radio (click to listen).