Louis Tebogo Moholo: A Jazz Drummer Extraordinaire

Louis Tebogo Moholo: A Jazz Drummer Extraordinaire

Louis Tebogo Moholo, born on March 10, 1940, in Cape Town, South Africa, is a revered jazz drummer whose contributions to the genre have left an indelible mark on the global music scene. His remarkable career spans decades and encompasses collaborations with some of the most notable musicians in jazz history. Let’s delve into the biography of this influential artist:

Louis Moholo

Birth name Louis Tebogo Moholo
Born 10 March 1940 (age 84)
Origin Cape Town, South Africa
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instrument(s) Drums

Early Years

Moholo’s journey in music began when he co-founded The Blue Notes alongside Chris McGregor, Johnny Dyani, Nikele Moyake, Mongezi Feza, and Dudu Pukwana. This pioneering ensemble emerged in Cape Town and gained recognition for their innovative approach to jazz. In 1964, Moholo and The Blue Notes emigrated to Europe, eventually settling in London. Their relocation marked the beginning of a significant period for Moholo, as he became part of a vibrant South African exile community that made a profound impact on British jazz.


Throughout his career, Moholo’s talent and versatility led him to collaborate with a diverse array of musicians, spanning continents and genres. He was a key member of the Brotherhood of Breath, a renowned big band comprising South African exiles and leading figures of the British free jazz scene. Additionally, Moholo founded Viva la Black and The Dedication Orchestra, further showcasing his innovative spirit and commitment to pushing the boundaries of jazz.

Albums and Musical

Moholo’s discography is rich with acclaimed albums, with “Spirits Rejoice” standing out as a classic example of the fusion of British and South African jazz sensibilities. His pioneering work with The Blue Notes, as well as his collaborations with other luminaries such as Derek Bailey, Steve Lacy, and Archie Shepp, solidify his legacy as a trailblazer in the jazz world.

In a poignant homecoming, Moholo returned to South Africa in September 2005, marking a significant moment in his career. He continues to captivate audiences with his electrifying performances, showcasing his immense talent and enduring passion for music. Renaming himself Louis Moholo-Moholo to embrace his cultural heritage, he remains a revered figure in the South African music scene.

Louis Moholo-Moholo’s influence extends far beyond his native South Africa, with his contributions to jazz celebrated worldwide. His legacy as a drummer, composer, and bandleader continues to inspire generations of musicians, ensuring that his profound impact on the genre endures for years to come.

Louis Moholo-Moholo’s dedication to his craft, coupled with his unwavering commitment to musical exploration, cements his status as a true icon of jazz. With each beat of his drum, he continues to enrich the world of music and touch the hearts of audiences around the globe.


Louis Tebogo Moholo’s extensive discography showcases his prolific career as both a leader and a collaborator in the world of jazz. Here’s a comprehensive list of his recordings:

As Leader:

  • Spirits Rejoice! (1978)
  • Tern (Live) with Larry Stabbins and Keith Tippett (1983)
  • Viva La Black (1988)
  • Exile (1991)
  • Freedom Tour – Live in South Africa 1993 (1994)
  • Mpumi with Mervyn Africa, Pule Pheto, and Keith Tippett (2002)
  • Khumbula (Remember) with Stan Tracey (2005)
  • Bra Louis – Bra Tebs + Louis Moholo-Moholo Octet: Spirits Rejoice! (2006)
  • Live at Ruvo (2004)
  • Sibanye (We Are One) (Live) with Marilyn Crispell (2008)
  • An Open Letter to My Wife Mpumi (2009)
  • Spiritual Knowledge and Grace (Live) with Dudu Pukwana, Johnny Dyani, and Rev. Frank Wright (2011)
  • For the Blue Notes (Live) (2014)
  • 4 Blokes (2014)
  • Sult (Live) with Frode Gjerstad (2014)
  • Distant Groove with Frode Gjerstad, Nick Stephens, and Fred Lonberg-Holm (2015)
  • Uplift the People (Live) (2018)
  • Live @ the Vortex Jazz Club (2020)


  • Messer with Irène Schweizer and Rüdiger Carl (1976)
  • Tuned Boots with Irène Schweizer and Rüdiger Carl (1978)
  • The Nearer the Bone, the Sweeter the Meat with Peter Brötzmann and Harry Miller (1979)
  • No Gossip with Keith Tippett (1980)
  • Opened, But Hardly Touched with Peter Brötzmann and Harry Miller (1981)
  • Alarm with Peter Brotzmann Group (1983)
  • The Boat is Sinking, Aparteid is Sinking with John Law (1986)
  • Bush Fire with Louis Moholo / Evan Parker / Pule Pheto / Gibo Pheto / Barry Guy Quintet (1996)
  • Foxes Fox with Evan Parker, Steve Beresford, and John Edwards (1999)
  • Keep Your Heart Straight with Alexander Hawkins (2012)
  • Born Free (Live) with Livio Minafra (2015)
  • Rebel Flames with Canto Generàl (2015)

With Chris McGregor:

  • Very Urgent (1968)
  • Up to Earth (1969)
  • Our Prayer (1969)

With The Brotherhood of Breath:

  • Brotherhood (1972)
  • Live at Willisau (1974)
  • Procession (1978)
  • Yes Please (1981)

With Dudu Pukwana:

  • In the Townships (1974)
  • Flute Music (1975)

With The Blue Notes:

  • Blue Notes for Mongezi (1976)
  • Blue Notes in Concert Volume 1 (1978)
  • Blue Notes for Johnny (1987)

With Assagai:

  • Assagai (1971)
  • Zimbabwe (1971)

With The Dedication Orchestra:

  • Spirits Rejoice (1992)
  • Ixesha (Time) (1994)

This extensive list highlights Louis Moholo’s profound impact on the jazz genre and his remarkable ability to collaborate with a diverse array of musicians. His legacy continues to resonate through his timeless recordings and groundbreaking contributions to the world of music.

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