Album Review of
Ojoyo Plays Safrojazz

Written by Joe Ross
May 24, 2021 - 1:15am EDT
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, saxophonist Morris Goldberg moved to the U.S. in the early 1960s, attended the Manhattan School of Music, and in 1965 started working with trumpet player Hugh Masekela. He regularly performed and recorded with Miriam Makeba, Harry Belafonte, and was part of Paul Simon’s famous Graceland album. In 1996, Goldberg formed Ojoyo as a vehicle for his own music, and the group continues today. His fusion of African, jazz and pop has created a joyous sound called “Safrojazz.” It’s a charismatic blend of celebratory compositions that pay homage to his South African roots, rhythms and natural sounds.

Originally recorded and released in 1996, and now remastered for its 25th anniversary, Ojoyo Plays Safrojazz offers memorable melodies, exuberant rhythms, and vibrant solos full of tonal colors.  Arrangements emphasize fluid, flowing conversations between saxophone, trumpet, keyboards and guitar while drums, percussion and bass provide a remarkably powerful rhythmic intensity. Goldberg’s pennywhistle also flavors a few selections. The first seven tracks feature one configuration of Ojoyo playing crowd-pleasers like “Station Road Strut,” “Forward Motion,” “Harare,” “Dolphin Jive” and “Little Song.” Recorded at a live performance, the two closers, “Rockwela” and “Sophiatown Society” are soul-filled, heartfelt musical affairs.  An interesting and viable worldly music form, Ojoyo’s Safrojazz is a bundle of joy and exuberant delight.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)