Sam Beaubien is WDET’s Creative Director and longtime bandleader for the Detroit funk + soul group Will Sessions. He’s been playing music for more than 20 years and is also an avid record collector.
This week on Sam’s Jams, we remember South African trumpeter, Hugh Masekela, who died today at the age of 78. Masekela was an Afro-Jazz trumpet player who crossed over into the international stage and worked with Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie, The Byrds, Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Herb Alpert, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and many others.
Born in South Africa in 1939, he began playing trumpet at the age of 14. In 1960 he moved to New York and enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music. While studying and playing jazz, instead of copying the style of other trumpet players of the time, he developed his own style, which is referred to as Afro-Jazz. His music became a blend of South African and American styles meshing jazz, funk and soul, with traditional and contemporary music from South Africa. You can hear this style in his song “Grazing In The Grass” from 1968, which went to No. 1 on the American pop charts and sold 4 million copies.
We also listen to “The Boys Doin’ It” from his 1975 album of the same name.