streams today…rivers tomorrow
B1. Dial Your Number
Caiphus Semenya, AKA Mr Letta Mbulu, is a South African legend and Streams Today… Rivers Tomorrow, his second solo LP, is perfect. A ten out-of ten album if ever we heard one. It's also incredibly rare, especially in good condition, so Be With is delighted to present this reissue.
Now a revered composer, musician, and arranger, Caiphus left apartheid South Africa in the 60s for self-imposed exile in Southern California together with his wife, Letta Mbulu. Settling in Los Angeles he started working with the likes of Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba and other exiled and semi-exiled South african artists, as well as, of course, his wife Letta. Caiphus also found himself working with and composing for a broad range of jazz and pop artists, including Lou Rawls, Nina Simone and Cannonball Adderley. His facility with both jazz and African forms served him well. His LA stay also the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with Quincy Jones, the fruits of which can be tasted in Caiphus's African compositions for the scores to Roots and Spielberg's adaptation of The Color Purple.
Originally released in 1984, Streams Today… Rivers Tomorrow is not just a musical masterpiece, it is also the soundtrack to the life of many South Africans - both then and now. Fusing the US-heavy sounds of boogie, disco and funk with Afrobeat and traditional African elements, it's truly a spectacular listen. Jabu Nkosi handles keyboards on the album, with synths by Caiphus and Craig Harris. Sipho Gumede is on bass and Condry Ziqubu is on guitars. The Afro-Cuban grooves of "Mamase" open the record. Continuing where Listen To The Wind left off, this is another horn-heavy call-and-response ode to a positive life.