Zulu Harmonies
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Review by Ross Anthony

This seven microphones stand in a row on an empty stage awaiting singers. One microphone is placed in front of that row. The group of South African men walk out with matching shirts and smiles. They love to kid each other and the audience in between songs. Many of the songs are written by the lead man who founded the group and all of the songs are a cappella (no instruments).

The harmonies are strong especially during dominant chords, but get a bit muddy during other more interesting chords or melodic movements. With a wide rich and enchanting lower end, the basses carry the tunes (the sopranos sometimes waver). Likewise, the rhythms are quick to find their groove and stay in for sometimes-hypnotic durations. However, at other times the durations and repetitions do go a bit long. If you're expecting more of a transcendental moment than a knock-your-socks off show, you're more likely to be satisfied.

I enjoyed the rhythms, rich vocals, and especially the general peaceful tone and encouraging message of the group. However, I would have greatly welcomed a break out melody. And while most of the songs are warm and spirited, their differences are more nuance than dynamic. They mostly all have the same feel and texture.

But here are some comments on individual songs:
1) The Parliament song has a nice beat and important message, but the word "Parliament" simply sits clumsily in verse.
2) Love the "Beautiful Girl" song and while it goes long, it is a big crowd pleaser -- A lot of fun.
3) After intermission, one member of the troupe encourages the audience to sing the rest back on stage. This is a very impressive fun way to start the second half. Kudos! And very well done.
4) The second song after break is probably their strongest.
5) The Zulu dance song also is a great crowd pleaser and brings visual dynamics to the show that had been heretofore a little too tamed.

Overall, this performance had a sweet feel and moments of hypnotic repetition, but don't expect your socks to come off your feet. That said, Mambazo's good-hearted humor and "Beatles type Banter" will go a long way toward leaving you with fond memories of their show.

This review based on the April 7th, 2006 show at Caltech, Beckman Auditorium. www.events.caltech.edu

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  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Copyright © 2006.
  • Starring Joseph Shabalala, Msizi Shabalala, Russell Mthembu, Albert Mazibuko, Thulani Shabalala, Thamsanqa Shabalala, Sibongiseni Shabalala, Abednego Mazibuko.
  • Management Mitch Goldstein, Internaial Music network, www.imnworld.com.
  • Record label: Headsup.com.
  • Presented by CALTECH presents www.events.caltech.edu.


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:04:39 PDT