Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Mseleku, Bheki

Mseleku, Bheki, pianist, saxophonist, composer (guitarist, singer); b. Durban, South Africa, 1955.

His father had been a pianist, then worked for freedom for black South Africans, but he died prematurely. When Bheki was a teen, after a group of musicians in a Durban club had difficulty in working out a piece, he sat down on the organ and came up with the solution, though he had had no training. After that, he began teaching himself to play the piano hour after hour; he also learned saxophone and guitar. In 1977, he left his country for the first time to appear at the Newport Jazz Festival. There he met Herbie Mann, who later joined him at the Montreux and the North Sea Jazz Festivals. Following his visits to Europe and the U.S., he returned to South Africa only to leave again, this time to settle in Sweden. There he met McCoy Tyner (one of his idols), Cedar Walton, Jack DeJohnette, Dewey Redman, and Billy Higgins. Fellow South African Hugh Masekela was so impressed with Mseleku's talents, he spirited him away to London where he has lived since 1985. Though the early going was rough - at one point Mseleku was so discouraged he shut himself up in a Hindu temple for a couple of years to regain his center by 1990 he was working on his debut recording. He was the subject of a BBC-TV documentary in 1996.

Recordings:
Celebration (1992); Meditations (1993); Timelessness (1994); Star Seeding (1996); Beauty Of Sunrise (1997)

Bibliography:
Newsweek, by Tom Masland

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