Dialectic Soul (On the Corner Records)

Asher Gamedze

Released July, 2020

New York Times Best Jazz Albums of 2020






Robin D.G. Kelley wrote that “it will render you completely incapacitated for the rest of the day. It’s a piece of music that you’ll not forget”.
Asher introduces the themes that constitute the album; free drums representing autonomous African motion, the saxophone reflecting deeply & honestly on the violence of colonialism. The teachings of Coltrane, Biko, Makeba, Malcom & others inspire the music’s positive manifestation of resistance.
“Fundamentally, it is about the reclamation of the historical imperative. It is about the dialect of the soul & the spirit while it moves through history. The soul is dialectic. Motion is imperative. We keep moving.”

Track Listing:

State of Emergence Suite

1. Movement One: Thesis 2:42

2. Movement Two: Antithesis 10:39

3. Movement Three: Synthesis 5:33

4. Siyabulela 08:22

5. Interregnum 05:09

6. Eternality 08:55

7. Hope in Azania 07:22

8. The Speculative Fourth 05:05


Asher Gamedze: drums
Thembinkosi Mavimbela: bass
Buddy Wells: tenor sax
Robin Fassie-Kock: trumpet
Nono Nkoane: vocals

Recorded live at the Sound and Motion Studios in Cape Town

Photography: Nombuso Mathibela

Album Artwork: Asher Gamedze

Sleeve Design: Victoria Topping


Asher Gamedze’s music is meant to realign your spirit, to carry you from melancholy to utopia. On his debut album, Dialectic Soul, the South African drummer makes elegant, astral jazz seemingly informed by John Coltrane, Lonnie Liston Smith and Brother Ah. At the height of free jazz and spiritual jazz in the late 1960s, Black bandleaders used these subgenres to illuminate social unrest fueled by persistent racism, the killings of prominent civil rights leaders, and the war in Vietnam. In South Africa, jazz musicians — including bassist Johnny Dyani, multi-instrumentalist Hugh Masekela and pianist Abdullah Ibrahim — spoke out against apartheid and left the country as a result.

U.S. artists like Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders expressed peace in their work; Albert Ayler and Sonny Sharrock exorcised inner turmoil. With Dialectic Soul, out now, Gamedze speaks to the brutal history of violence and colonialism in his native South Africa, using spoken-word and mid- to down-tempo melodies to unpack the suffering. Instead of tottering through it, Gamedze ruminates, acknowledging the pain while looking toward peace. “Fundamentally, it is about the reclamation of the historical imperative,” Gamedze wrote on his Bandcamp page. “It is about the dialect of the soul & the spirit while it moves through history.”

Recorded over two days in Cape Town and featuring Thembinkosi Mavimbela on bass, Buddy Wells on tenor saxophone, Robin Fassie-Kock on trumpet and Nono Nkoane on vocals, Dialectic Soul is also a political album partially inspired by the legacies of Steve Biko, an anti-apartheid activist who founded the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa; and Miriam Makeba, a beloved singer and civil rights leader who became one of the prominent performers across the continent. Dialectic Soul summons the likes of Biko and Makeba, along with others from the country’s past who fought to deconstruct oppression.

Marcus J. Moore (npr)