Jeff Maluleke is back full force! His latest album simply titled “A Twist of Jeff” is a resounding release with songs for all ages, stages and colours of life. These are great summer up-tempo feelings, with Latin influences, heartfelt ballads – an album that can get any party rocking, or any quiet gathering listening intently.
The album is produced by Musa Manzini and Lawrence Matchiza, and with a great cast of equally talented musicians, a true return to form for this amazing award winning vocalist and composer.
Jeff Maluleke was born and raised in semi-rural South Africa, Bushbuckridge in the heart of Mpumalanga Province in the Northern region of the country. From his days as a youth in this region his interest in music was apparent from an early age, and a firm foundation was set for his musical career.
Having completed his studies Jeff moved to Johannesburg where he attended an engineering course at Primitive Studios. During the course he met Dr. Victor who hired him as a backing vocalist for the Rasta Rebels. Jeff was then invited to write a track with Dr. Victor and together they came up with “I Miss Your Love” which was released on the album “One Goal, One Wish”.
His solo musical career began in earnest in September of 1995 when Jeff approached the CCP record company with a rough four-track demo containing what was to become the starting point for HAGONYA. Gone was the township pop of Papa Jeff which had already earned him a gold record (with sales upwards of 30 000 units) and in its place was a new sound that Jeff saw as the future direction of his music. The quality of music attracted some of SA’s finest musicians to do session work.
About the debut album “That’s The Way” Jeff had the following to say: “Underneath the sadness in this album lies a message of hope.” Say Jeff; “If you cannot find it in the lyrics then you will feel it in the music. I have tried to present African music in a form that will make it accessible to all and hopefully bring people to realise that it is not only for Africans, but for the world to enjoy.” This is still true to the music that Jeff makes to the current day.
Some time later, on his recent tour to South Africa Jackson Browne required the services of a support act who could meet his very high standards. Of the several prominent acts submitted for his perusal he chose Jeff Maluleke. The relationship was highly successful with Jeff Maluleke closing out their tour by performing two of Jackson’s tracks with him on the final night.
The album entitled Dzovo, was a brilliant combination of African and Western influences drawing on the inspirations of Mbaqanga, Kwassa Kwassa, melancholy folk, pop ballads, and funky Latin beats with lyrics in English, Zulu and the poetic Tsonga vernacular. Jeff’s touching melodic vocals and hook – jammed choruses, coupled with a prominent acoustic thread is carried throughout by the guitars of Ntokozo and Andy Innes, make “DZOVO” a memorable addition to all record collections.
Since then Jeff has released the resounding KILIMANJARO and MAMBO to great acclaim and radio support. The threads that were sewn so early in his life, attempting to create a universally appealing African sound that all can enjoy, were used to their fullest and saw wide appeal to various different markets with this album.
Jeff’s 2004 release, namely Ximatsatsa, is along these lines, but has a slight diversion with all of the lyrics in Tsonga (Shangaan), Jeff’s home language, and not mixed like his previous albums with elements of English and Swahili amongst others. Also the musical nature of the release sees some diversion. Still very much groove based and up-tempo, Jeff keeps it sweet and simple here, as less is so often more. Containing original compositions as well as some adaptations of traditional songs there is something for everyone to enjoy here and the messages are all very apt for the festive season (with many weddings and celebations) that we now enter.
Jeff’s status as a live performing artist had also progressed. He has performed and continues to perform at events such as the Standard Bank Jazz Festivals, which have been headlined by the likes of Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo. In fact these were early beginnings and Jeff has proudly held his own on stage performing alongside such greats as: Oliver Mtukudzi, Salif Keita, Femi Kuti, Andy Narell, Richard Bona, Jonas Gwangwa, Tsepo Tshola … the list is endless, you name them, Jeff has been there and impressed all!
SAMA 10 Award – 2003/4 (Best Composer) –album MAMBO
KORA AWARD – 2003 – (Best Video) – MAMBO
SAMA 8 Award – 2001/2 (Best Contemporary African album) – KILIMANJARO
KORA AWARD – 2002 – (Revelation of the Year) – KILIMANJARO
SAMA 7 –2000/1 – Best Producer – album Juliana