Bheki Mseleku: Mister Allard
Bheki Mseleku (piano, tenor sax)
Star Seeding (Verve 314529142-2)
Composed by Bheki Mseleku.
Recorded: Los Angeles, March 11-12, 1995
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
The talented South African multi-instrumentalist Bheki Mseleku passed away in London on September 8, 2008, due to complications from diabetes. He was only 53 years of age. Star Seeding, arguably his best CD, should have resulted in what the title implied – the blossoming, if belated, of a major jazz artist – but this never came to pass, and he only recorded twice more after this 1995 session. While Mseleku's playing on these tracks is noticeably derivative, it is also highly skillful and passionate. At various times he sounds, on saxophone, like Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Johnny Griffin or Charlie Rouse, while on piano like Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner or Monk.
For "Mister Allard" (named for co-producer Jean-Philippe Allard), overdubbed tenor sax joins Mseleku's piano, with his tenor singing the lyrical, dancing theme and sounding like an amalgam of Getz and Henderson. Mseleku's fluid piano solo is quite diverse, in a Hancock mode, and executed with a glistening touch. Buoyant phrasing, gliding single-note lines, and assertive left-hand accentuations highlight this elegant, self-contained improvisation. Mseleku's tenor then reprises the alluring melody, adding tastefully nuanced variations. Mseleku's polished musicianship will be sorely missed.
Reviewer: Scott Albin