Sometimes you just have to surrender completely to a song. This is the case with the wonderful "The Republic of Dongo" by South African saxophonist Ivan Mazuze. There's a fast-paced rhythm from the start, with drummer Frank Paco in charge, while Mazuze blows away on his horn before the music explodes in a break and Peter Ndlala's elastic, funky basslines announce a slower rhythm and Mazuze plays a melodic riff that is simply irresistible, with its sophisticated expression of a musical joie de vivre.
The song is one of many great pieces on the album Ubuntu. It brims with rhythm and melody and features various 6/8 time signatures from Africa. Ubuntu is a South African word (Xhosa, Zulu) and refers to a quality connected with human virtues, such as compassion and humanity. This is reflected in the warm sounds, the energy and the joy of the music. It is music that connects rather than divides.
The album features the guitar of Jacob Young, a surprising guest for those who know Young as a signature ECM-artist. However, his warm acoustic guitar suits a composition like "Kulhula" perfectly and his electric guitar playing on a rhythmically vibrant composition like "Hamba Kahle" is congenial.
The meeting between Young and Mazuze on Ubuntu underlines that music knows no geographical boundaries and the same can be said about Odd Gjelsnes' Losen Records. His label has become a truly international project simply based on the love of good music.