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Ratau Mike Makhalemele

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Many consider Ratau Mike Makhalemele one of South Africa's leading saxophonists. Playing professionally since the late '60s, Makhalemele made his widest impression as a member of the Drive, a group he formed with Henry Sithole in the 1970s. A highly respected session player, Makhalemele has worked with Champion Jack Dupree, Joe Henderson, Curtis Mayfield, and Clarence Carter. In addition to playing on Paul Simon's album, Graceland, he toured with Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Miriam Makeba in 1987 and 1988. The son of a preacher, Makhalemele cites American jazz musicians Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Joe Henderson as influences. His greatest influence, however, was South African saxophonist, Kippie Moeketsi. He recently portrayed Moeketsi in a stage production at the Civic Theater in Johannesburg. Makhalemele's debut solo album, Thabang, was released in 1990. His album, Searching For The Truth, received a FNB South African Music Award (SAMA) as Best Traditional Jazz Peformance, in 2000. ~ Craig Harris

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