Bheki Mseleku @ the 606 Club
13 November 2006
(Photography 8 January 2007 & 13 November 2006)
Click an image to enlarge.
9 September 2008, Bheki Mseleku died at the age of 53. He had been
suffering from diabetes and other health issues.
Appropriate recognition for Bheki Mseleku is still to come. This
deeply spiritual, multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger has
mesmerised many fortunate patrons with his colourful and captivating
In 1975 Bheki Mseleku could be found playing electric organ for
an R&B group in Johannesburg. By the late 1970’s he had
left South Africa’s oppressive boundaries to take up residence
Mseleku toured Europe, and the U.K before his successful debut
at London’s Ronnie Scott’s in 1987. Here he would impress
the many visiting jazz luminaries that have passed through its doors.
Mseleku’s debut album “Celebration” (released
in 1991, recorded at the Jazz Café in London) features the
likes of Courtney Pine & Steve Williamson (soprano saxophones)
Eddie Parker (flutes), Jean Toussaint (tenor saxophone) and Marvin
“Smitty” Smith (drums). ”Celebration” brought
Mseleku many new fans, as well as the British Mercury Prize nomination
for Album Of The Year.
Mseleku continued his successful live performance dates throughout
the U.K before releasing “Meditations” in 1992. This
two-track recording would capture the essence of Mseleku live at
the Bath International Music Festival.
“Timelessness” was released towards the end of 1993
after Mseleku signed to the Verve/Polygram label. This time Mseleku
would collaborate with American heavyweights such as Pharoah Sanders,
Abbey Lincoln, Elvin Jones and Joe Henderson.
Each subsequent release celebrated Mseleku’s respect and
love for life. Mseleku was a humble, self-confessed “Citizen
of the World” who relentlessly forged his spiritual road.
His warm musical paintings always left you feeling free open hearted
Mseleku was due to return to South Africa to perform at Johannesburg’s
Bassline club just before his death. He is survived by a wide extended
family including his brother Langa, his sister Millicent, and seven
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.