Outernational Sounds very proudly Presents The Mallory-Hall Band "Song of Soweto" & "The Last Special". Limited, fully licensed digital and vinyl reissues of two crucial South African sessions led by Charles Mallory and Al Hall, Jnr., featuring Kirk Lightsey, Marshall Royal, Rudolph Johnson, Billy Brooks and more! Essential companion pieces to Kirk Lightsey’s legendary ‘Habiba’. Featuring tracks: Song Of Soweto: Side A – ‘Song of Soweto’, ‘Hamba Samba’; Side B – ‘Cape Town Blues’, ‘Moroka Rock’, ‘The African Night’ The Last Special: Side A - ‘The Last Special’, ‘Princess of Joh’Burg’; Side B - ‘Amafu (Clouds)’, ‘Blue Mabone’ Never released outside South Africa, and out of print since 1974, Outernational Sounds presents two long-lost Johannesburg sessions from the Mallory-Hall Band – an all-star review of West Coast jazz stars who toured apartheid South Africa in the mid-1970s. Sanifu Al Hall, Jnr. is a musician’s musician. During a storied career stretching across six decades, Hall has recorded with the greats of the music including Freddie Hubbard, Doug Carn, and Johnny Hammond, and leads his own Cosmos Dwellerz Arkestra. But until recent years, the only records on which he had appeared as leader were a brace of rich, funky LPs, Song Of Soweto and The Last Special, issued only in South Africa under the moniker of The Mallory-Hall Band (named for Hall and his co-leader, guitarist Charles Mallory – musical director for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Mallory was conductor for Dusty Springfield touring bands, and had worked with John Lee Hooker, Stevie Wonder, and many others). Neither LP had any wider release, and both have remained out of print since 1974. How did a young stalwart of the Los Angeles jazz scene end up in a recording studio in apartheid South Africa? Al Hall, Jnr. and Charles Mallory had arrived in South Africa as part of the touring band for the singer Lovelace Watkins. Sometimes billed as ‘the Black Sinatra’, the Detroit-born Watkins sang standards and ballroom classics on the Las Vegas circuit. He never made it big in the US, but in his 1970s heyday he was a huge star in southern Africa, and 1974 he hired a jazz big band to accompany him on a tour of South Africa – Hall and Mallory were part of the line-up, alongside Mastersounds bassist Monk Montgomery, pianist Kirk Lightsey, tenorist Rudolph Johnson, drummer Billy Brooks, and Marshall Royal, musical director of the Count Basie band. The tour was a huge success, and during downtime from performing, members of the group managed to independently record no fewer than three albums. Lightsey and Johnson’s stunning Habiba was the first (reissued as Outernational Sounds OTR.013), and it was followed by two crucial sessions led by Hall and Mallory – Song of Soweto and The Last Special, issued on the local IRC imprint. Visiting apartheid South Africa in 1974 was a controversial choice for any artist. Numerous artistic and cultural bodies around the world had already announced that their members would boycott the country in solidarity with the struggle against apartheid, and working in South Africa was severely frowned on by anti-apartheid activists everywhere. For a Black band, touring the country to play to mostly white audiences could have been seen by many both inside and outside South Africa as a questionable decision. ‘It was a batch of mixed reactions when I choose to visit South Africa whilst apartheid policies were in place,’ Hall recalls. ‘To me the choice was a simple one – “I wanna see for myself!” I also wanted to be a part of breaking down racial barriers, having been down some of the same roads in my own country.’ The albums were recorded by a twelve-piece band at Johannesburg’s Video Sounds Studios in December 1974, and feature the legendary pianist Kirk Lightsey, Black Jazz recording artist Rudolph Johnson, and the rest of the touring band. Both records are superbly arranged slabs of peak 1970s funky big band soul jazz, with tasteful Latin inflections and more than a nod to South Africa’s upful township jazz sound. They are the sonic traces left by a seasoned African American band who were touring South Africa in the depths of the apartheid era, and who immediately moved beyond the segregated hotels and ballrooms to build links with local South African players and audiences. Never previously available outside South Africa, Outernational Sounds’ new editions of Song of Soweto and The Last Special (alongside our edition of Kirk Lightsey’s Habiba) represents the first time these albums have been in print for nearly fifty years. Fully licensed from Gallo Records and pressed at Pallas in Germany from Gallo’s original masters, they feature new sleeve notes from Francis Gooding (The Wire) based on interviews with Al Hall, Jnr., and a reminiscence from pianist Kirk Lightsey.