Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Obituary: Ernest "Shololo" Mothle

Ernie playing at a gig in memory of Winston Mankunku Ngozi in Novemer 2009.

Ernest Mothle was born on 2 December 1941 in Lady Selborne, Tshwane where he attended school, listening to the music that was happening all around him in that bustling township.
After briefly dreaming of playing the clarinet or the sax, he took up the bass and began playing with various musicians active in the Tshwane area.
By 1962 he was an accomplished jazz musician performing with the likes of Alf Herbert's African Jazz and Variety; Early Mabuza's Big Five with Barney Rachabane, Johnny Mekoa, Tete Mbambisa and Pat Matshikiza, the late great sax player Winston Mankunku Ngozi, and singers like Abigail Khubeka, Thandi Klaasen and Busi Mhlongo.
In 1970 he was involved in recording the great album Armitage Road with the Heshoo Beshoo group. He also co-wrote music for the musical Phiri and for the first film version of Athol Fugard's Boesman and Lena.
Mr Mothle then left for the United Kingdom where he joined the many other exiled South African musicians like Mongezi Feza, Dudu Pukwana, Julian Bahula and many others, eventually joining Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath big band with which he toured Europe.
While in the UK Mr Mothle also played with a number of other jazz greats like Errol Clark, Sonny Stitt, Archie Shepp and he toured with blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon, sax men Courtney Pine and Trevor Watts and the band Spirit Level.
Mr Mothle participated in a BBC TV recording of music for children. He played with the band of Alton Khumalo's Themba Theatre Company when they toured Britain. He was also a member of the orchestra for the Bill Luther Dance Company (Luther was a student of Martha Graham)
Ernest in front of the nursing home in the former Lady Selborne township in which he was born.
Mr Mothle appeared on TV with the Jonas Gwangwa at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert at Wembley Stadium, in Dr Who and Halfway to Paradise with Courtney Pine.
On his return to South Africa in 1991 Mr Mothle played with visiting musicians Rene McLean, Jon Yon Yen, James Newton, Bob Mintzer and Jasper van't Hof.
He worked as a bass instructor at the Mmabana Cultural Centre and tutored at the Tshwane University of Technology's Music Department.
He has an impressive list of recordings bearing his name as sideman – with musicians as varied as Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield (Mr Mothle played percussion on Oldfield's album Ommadawn), George Lee and Mike Osborne.
He played on the soundtrack of David Attenborough's movie Cry Freedom with Jonas Gwangwa and appeared at the first Nelson Mandela birthday concert at Wembly Stadium with Hugh Masekela.
Ernest died of diabetes-related complications on 2 May 2011 at his home in Mamelodi, Pretoria.


Claude Poncin said...

A great lost. I had the chance to have him played with Chris McGregor and Charles Tyler in Ste- Foy-la-Grande, Gironde, France. Mr Mothle was very humble man who share a very special complicity with Chris.
All my sympathy to his family.
Merci Tony de nous faire partager cette triste nouvelle.

Olivier said...

I was lucky enough to see Ernest in a concert organized by "Jazz Gegen Apartheid". It was a quartet led by John Tchicai. Harry Beckett was the trumpeter and Makaya Ntschoko was the drummer. They only played Johnny Dyani tunes.
That was fantastic!
RIP Ernest

Kei Murray Mongezi Prosper McGregor said...

May you take your warmth and your sharp sense of humour on your spiritual journey.
What you gave us, luckily we can keep, and share with others.
So long Bra Mogotsi Mothle
I won't forget you
Kei Murray Mongezi Prosper McGregor

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Dennis Gonzalez said...

I played with Ernest Mothle and Louis Moholo in London at The Rosemary Branch in the early 80's. He was a wonderful instrumentalist as well as an amazing person, supportive of me and my music in so many ways. I speak of him often, but did not realize that he had passed away. God rest his soul.