South Africa: Jazz Musician Retsi Pule – Ballad for All the Sad Young Men Who Jazz’d Discovered ‘The Voice’

Retsi Pule is an outlandish yet calming, beautiful soul, even before he opens his mouth. It instantly knocked me sideways to realise that this cat has a huge heart and bigger artistic ambitions.

Tautology, even seemingly mindless repetition, for those of us who grew up on the hot streets of Marabastad, Temba/Mazakhele, GaMampyane, Munsieville, Orlando, Mdantsane, Duncan Village, Dube Village, Red Location, New Brighton, Langa, or what do you know? Elsies, Gugs, and waar vat my nou? Vlakfontein, etc, never been a matter of grammatical malfunction, but the backbeat to our bitter, if often lilting, Blues. Either way, it’s our “jive”.

So when you heard someone’s greetings, Ek se, wat se? And the response, Es (is) Double Dolly, you jazz knew there’s music in the air. My generation, sui generis, would sing back the answer to the wellbeing greetings with: “Es Tjovitjo, mei Outie.” Same song. Different ends of the chain of sounds of Black Folks.

Thus when asked: How is Ou’ Retsi Pule, back in my hunting streets of Mjipa, you know which song I will sing back: Ou’ Retse es Singali, it’s mjojo. Full of beans after all these years.

One/Two .. One/Two… a Song for Retsi.



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