Mankunko Quartet - Yakhal’ Inkomo
“The album brilliantly captures the bittersweet times of living as a black musician in South Africa under apartheid: the melody is one of jubilant urgency and produces a strenuous sound that captivates the listener. It’s like stepping into a scene where a lonesome saxophone bellows into the night and carries the weight of unattainable freedom.”
-Kwezi Kobus + Carla Lottering
Recorded almost one year to the day after the death of his hero, John Coltrane, Winston “Mankunko” Ngozi’s Yakhal’ Inkomo is considered by many to be the most important South African jazz record of all time. The record is beautifully laid out with 2 original compositions on side A and 2 tunes by some of his inspirations - Horace Silver and John Coltrane - on side B. Originally released in South Africa in 1968, the album had a very limited pressing during aparthied. Because of this, the level of playing and unusually high quality of the recording (it sounds like Blue Note at its best!) hard to find original copies of the record would sell for upwards of $1,500 until recent reissues finally brought the price down. The album won Mankunko nearly instant national fame as well as the Castle Lager “Jazz Musician of the Year” for 1968! Translated from Xhosa, the title means “The Bellowing Bull'', referring to the sound of a bull on the way to the slaughter house. Many believe the title to be a coded nod to the struggle of his community under aparthied but that meaning flew under the radar of the white government. Aparthied had a serious effect on the South African Jazz scene. As the regime tightened its grip in the 60s many of the country’s finest musicians went into exile. Winston could have left to find success but he refused to go into exile or tour internationally - too strong was his connection to his home country. At one point he even turned down a chance to tour with Duke Ellington. While Yakhal’ Inkomo is really a Mankunko record, the backing trio can’t go unnoticed especially the astonishing piano solos of Lionel Pillay, an Indian pianist whose presence on the record meant that they were a mixed race group which broke Aparthied laws of the time. We’ve been sitting on this record here in our roastery for a few months now and I am so excited to finally get it out and into your hands. I do believe that once you hear Mankunko’s saxophone, Yakhal' Inkomo will quickly fall into your home’s heavy rotation.
Ivan Molano - Tolima, Colombia
This juicy, jammy fruit bomb comes courtesy of our old pal Ivan Molano, one of a few Tolima farmers we met way back at our first Acevedo Cup many years ago. The lot that we snagged from him this year is the Colombia varietal, which he grows so well on his farm Las Pulgas. Cupping fresh crop Colombias at the start of each new year is always really special, but especially so when they have the grape jelly qualities like Ivan's coffee does. This coffee is equal parts jam and juice, with so much sweetness and complexity you'll wonder if we added something to make it taste that way. But we didn't—unless love counts as an ingredient.