Love, Learn, and Teach: Remembering the Life of Hugh Masekela


(Photo by Lawrence Sumulong for JALC)

News | Jan, 23rd 2018

One of the truly great photos of jazz shows a scene in Johannesburg in 1956. A number of people have assembled in the background, all looking at an ebullient 17-year-old Hugh Masekela leaping into the air while clutching a trumpet. The day marked a celebration: the trumpet in Bra Hugh’s hand was Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, sent as a gift by Pops to the aspiring musician, and given in the hopes that it would inspire Hugh to continue his studies in the music.

Bra Hugh did that, and so much more. For decades, his sound was all but synonymous with South Africa’s jazz, fusing American hard bop with local styles like mbaqanga, marabi, and majuba into a sound uniquely his own. In songs like “Stimela,” Bra Hugh captured the hardships of apartheid-era South Africa; on “The Boy’s Doin’ It,” he saluted freedom movements throughout the African Diaspora; on “Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela),” he embodied the hope of the anti-apartheid struggle towards a better future. To many listeners around the world, Bra Hugh’s trumpet playing and singing personified the struggle against apartheid, giving voice to a resistance.

Bra Hugh never stopped growing, and albums he recorded post apartheid found him constantly learning new music, celebrating new South African styles like kwaito, and actively participating in the forging of a new identity for the nation. He was fascinated by new talents and musical voices in South Africa, and enamored of the new sounds they created. As many Jazz at Lincoln Center patrons saw in Bra Hugh’s performances, his band always comprised young South African artists whom he tirelessly mentored in finding their unique styles. Indeed, if one looks at the jazz talent of South Africa today, it is impossible not to see the towering influence of Bra Hugh in each and every musician.

Many autograph seekers found that Bra Hugh would often sign CDs and books with the closing “Love, Learn, and Teach.” It is hard to think of somebody who filled those three commands as deeply as Hugh Masekela did.

Written by Seton Hawkins, Director, Education Resources and Public Programming


Inscription from the author's copy of "Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela"

(Photo of Hugh Masekela by Lawrence Sumulong for JALC)


read more

Jazz at Lincoln Center mourns the passing of a transformative legend in jazz, Mr. Ornette Coleman. Wynton Marsalis shares a story about Ornette that demonstrated his role as an educator and a leader for future generations of jazz musicians.

read more

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Staff, Board of Directors, and Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, say goodbye to our beloved orchestra member, saxophonist Joe Temperley.


popular


Duke Ellington

The Essential Ellington: How Duke Ellington Changed Jazz Forever

Nobody in the history of jazz expressed himself more freely; or with more variety, swing, and sophistication than Duke Ellington. Listen to our playlist of essential Ellington recordings and find out how he changed jazz forever.

read more
Nina and Nat

And the Inductees Are… Your Choices for the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame

Find out who the three 2018 inductees into the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame are! All three made an indelible impact on America's music and influenced millions in the process.

read more
Ahmad Jamal - Photo by Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

Another 10 Essential Jazz Albums

Here's a list of 10 more must-have classics for to round out your collection of jazz records.

read more
Thelonious Monk at the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival with his children, T.S. and Boo Boo.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Thelonious Monk, by His Son T.S. Monk

Celebrate Thelonious Monk’s Centennial by getting to know the legend through his son’s memories.

read more
Chick Corea - photo by Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

Chick Corea: Five Essential Albums

Chick Corea is one of the most influential figures in jazz and one of the greatest living jazz pianists. In advance of his trio’s July 4 performance in Highland Park, IL, at the Ravinia Festival alongside the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, here are five essential albums from his discography.

read more
Wynton Marsalis performs on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Celebrating Spaces and The Abyssinian Mass with Colbert on The Late Show

Wynton Marsalis appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform with Jon Batiste, Stay Human, and acclaimed dancer Lil Buck. Check out video and behind-the-scenes content from their performance.

read more

10 Essential Jazz Albums

New to jazz and don't know where to start? With many artists and extensive catalogues of music, a new jazz listener can feel intimidated. We're here to help! Check out our list of 10 albums to get you started on your jazz journey and introduce yourself to some of jazz's great artists.

read more

A Visit to Clark Terry

On December 7, 2014 the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra drove 8 hours on an off day to play for Clark Terry on his 94th birthday. Victor Goines, James Chirillo, Ted Nash, Vincent Gardner, and Walter Blanding recall the day and the impact that Clark had on jazz.

read more

recommended


Ornette Coleman

The Department Store Painting that Inspired Ornette Coleman and 5 Other Interesting Facts About His Life

Ornette Coleman led a life as fascinating as his music. Read up on some interesting facts about this jazz legend!

read more
Joe Temperley, by Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

Notes from the Road: Remembering Joe Temperley

Before his passing in May, Joe Temperley spent 29 unforgettable years as the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra's baritone saxophonist and its beloved elder statesman. Between performances on their recent mini-tour of Canada, several JLCO members shared their memories of Temperley, who left behind an indelible legacy and a whole lot of stories.

read more

6 Underappreciated Jazz Artists You Should Check Out

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, so we thought we'd celebrate by delving into the careers of a handful of underappreciated jazz artists. Explore the careers of six musicians who deserve more accolades and learn the best places to start with their discographies.

read more