Ernest Mothle

Last updated 09 January 2020

Ernest Mothle (1941-2011)
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Ernest Mogotsi Mothle

Born: Tuesday 2nd December 1941
Died: Monday 2nd May 2011 (age: 69)

Ernest Mothle was a jazz bass player from South Africa.

He was born in Tshwane, Pretoria in 1941. When he attended St. Marin's School in Sophiatown, Johannesburg he played as part of the Father Huddlestone Band alongside Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa. Then, in 1959 he founded Dominoes with Francis and Cornelius Kekana and Gabriel Tladi, in which he played bass. By 1969 he had joined Henry Sithole in the Heshoo Beshoo Group, and recorded the album Armitage Road. He also collaborated with Gibson Kente for his musical works Manana, The Jazz Prophet, Life and Sikhalo and Phiriwith.

In 1972 he moved to London, and in 1974 played with the Julian Bahulas band Jabula, and recorded Ommadawn with Mike Oldfield. He also played with Jim Dvorak in the group Joy for the album Cadillac in 1978. Other performances included bands of Dudu Pukwana, Trevor Watts Drum Orchestra and Moire Music. From 1981 he was a member of Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and accompanied her to the Moers Festival in 1981 and 1988, and the Jazz Festival Willisau also in 1988. He also toured regularly in Germany during 1986 with the Jazz against Apartheid project. Other collaboration included several recordings of Working Week, Nothing Can Stop Us, and Talks Laughing Stock.

He performed on a number of occasions with Courtney Pine, including Halfway to Paradise and as part of the quartet Ace and the Doctor listen to in Silver Nemesis. Other jazz legends included Errol Clark, Sonny Stitt, Archie Shepp and Jimmy Witherspoon. He also appeared with Jonas Gwangwa at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert held at Wembley Stadium

He returned to South Africa in 1995 and taught as a music teacher at the Tshwane University of Technology. In 2004 he appeared in the documentary Acoustic Africa, and in 2007 he played with his quartet at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

Mothle died in 2011 from the effects of diabetes.

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