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Zebra Crossing


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Audio CD, August 25, 1998
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 25, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000009S4G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,263 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Mbayi Mbayi
2. Zebra Crossing
3. Zulu Lullaby
4. Kwela
5. The Paul Simon 'Graceland' Collection: Homeless, Diamonds In The Soles Of Her Shoes, Garaceland, You Can Call Me Al
6. Bossa Baroque
7. Shut Up And Listen (Thul'u Lalele)
8. St. Agnes And The Burning Train (St Agnes Nokusha Kwe-Stimela)
9. Kadeni Kwazulu
10. Ntyilo Ntyilo
11. Where Were You Taking Me To? (Uno'Ntsonkisa Kae?)
12. Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica (God Bless Africa)
13. Mbayi Mbayi (reprise)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This is neither the throbbing mbaqanga of the townships nor the ponderous classicism of Kronos's African explorations. The Soweto String Quartet offer a light, poppy sound that mixes their cello, viola, and violins with a South African rhythm section and some touches of winds and brass. They move seamlessly between the scratchy, throbbing sound of Soweto (especially in some of the violin solos that really do grasp the wonder of the township fiddle sound) and the FM radio accessibility of Paul Simon (who they pay tribute to in a medley from Graceland). They are good players but they seem to have been advised to hide behind a slick production approach instead of showcasing their own skills. While there are pieces for just the quartet, they tend to be lighter, romantic works that lack much innovation. Some kwela or mbaqanga pieces with just the strings, using the cello for bass and the viola for punch, would have given the album a better sense of place than the incessant, if pleasant enough, bass-drum-keyboard backing band. Fans of Graceland or recent Mahlathini recordings should take the ride, because Zebra Crossing offers a different view of this popular music form. For those hoping for a radical departure: this is not your train. --Louis Gibson

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Zebra Crossing is an absolute masterpiece! After seeing SSQ perform with the Dance Theatre of Harlem (The South African Suite) at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, I immediately ordered the ZC for my collection. The music is absolutley wonderful and uplifting. I feel a true sense of pride for these musicians who have profoundly harmonized both the struggle and celebration of South Africians triumphs over apartheid - Mbayi Mbayi!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Isla Morley (morlynk@aol.com) on October 26, 1999
Format: Audio CD
It's what Africa does with classical music - it energizes, moves and stirs the listener. It puts you in the heart of the South African township and lets you feel the pulse of a new nation, with all its agonies, triumphs and hopes. Truly inspiring, by any standards
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gilly Bean on January 9, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I have never heard such a beautiful blend of classical, pop and African rhythms as on this album. But despite the fact that they are a string quartet, this is not a classical album. The intonation, many of the chord structures and a lot of the rhythms are uniquely African. "Bossa Baroque" is a particularly imaginative piece, and SSQ do a wonderful job of combining bossa rhythms with a Bach touch. This is one album that everyone should have a chance to listen to. Who would have thought that 18th century European instruments could beat with the pulse of Africa like they do here. Some of the pieces are contempory, some traditional. Paul Simon's 'Graceland' album is saluted in a medley, and Sting's "St. Agnes and the burning bed" is given the SSQ touch, and all are wonderful. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I first heard the Soweto String Quartet when they came to Maputo, Mozambique to do a performance back in the early 90's. I wasn't too enthused about going at first, however, after their performance I was awestruck. I looked for something by them for years and purely by accident found this when I was on leave in South Africa. I've played it over and over and still get the same thrill as I did when I saw their live performance all those years ago. I've bought their other CDs since then, but this one has a special meaning for me.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I too bought the CD immediately after having seen the Dance Theatre of Harlem, in Seattle. I was disappointed at the "pop" nature of several songs though. I think they have compromised their brilliant roots at times with a trashy western pop sound. Maybe I just remember "Zebra Crossing" differently from the performance, or perhaps it was just enhanced perfectly by the dancers, but I don't recall the cheesy bass rifts and commonplace, predictable drum rhythms. Which is unfortunate -- their string playing is so beautiful and evocative, anything but predictable! They are strongest when left to their own devices. Worth buying if you get a good price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By drumlin on August 30, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Unlike other reviewers, I just happened to pick this CD up at a store because I like African harmonies, and thought it looked intriguing. What a treasure I got! Their music is so intricate, yet just goes to the soul and makes it dance. This CD has gotten me through a lot of life's badness. I almost use it as a drug...if I'm down, I know this will immediately make the moment just beautiful. As for the Western pop influence, I do detect that a bit, but it doesn't detract from all the vast amounts of gorgeous African harmonies and rhythms. A human triumph!
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