A Healthy Live Music Ecosystem is Needed for Innovations: An Interview with Dr. Cara Stacey

Musician, researcher, and composer Cara Stacey gravitates between the strange and wonderful sonic worlds of classical string ensembles, kinetic ‘music’ on machines, traditional southern Africa mouth bows, and beyond. On November 23, she performs with one of the five bands featured at the upcoming South African Jazz & Classical Encounters Festival at the impressive Spier Wine Farm’s Amphitheatre, newly refurbished. There, will be a splash of the best South African jazz and classical artists in a blaze of contemporary music. On piano and traditional southern African mouth bows, she is joined by long time colleague and Stellenbosch composer, Matthijs van Dijk, and eclectic jazz artists, Reza Khota on electric guitar, and Bryton Bolton on double bass. They call themselves the Night Light Collective. See them at 3.15pm on Saturday!

Traditional bow player, Cara Stacey: credit P. Burger

Originally a classically trained pianist, with Masters degrees from Edinburgh and London, Stacey’s real love migrated to research, play and make southern African musical bows (umrhubhe, uhadi, makhweyane) thanks to long residencies in eSwatini (formerly, Swaziland) where she spent her childhood upbringing.  The makhweyane, a one-stringed gourd-resonating bow, was the subject of her Doctorate which she is now turning into a book.

Makhweyane bow

Stacey became easily enamoured with other out-of-the-box inventions and musical innovations picked up from other country influences, such as in Brazil, Peru, and Iraq, the latter where she delved into pre-1500s Islamic inventors in the field of robotics. Her one-year post-doctoral research as an ethnomusicologist at University of Cape Town (UCT) led her to put flute music to a water-based instrument she built, based on 12th Century Baghdad mechanical inventions.  All this, quite different from her earlier research with traditional African bows. 

She left her teaching at UCT last year to move to Johannesburg where she currently lives, teaching bow ensembles, composing, freelancing with live gigs, writing songs on commission, and preparing her next albums with songs recorded to date. Her UK record label prefers vinyl and digital productions.

For anyone wanting alternative sounds with a very different mix of familiar and less familiar instruments, Stacey’s first album, Things That Grow (2015,) features UK-based Shabaka Hutchings, and offers kinetic/machine-like bumps with the wind instruments of traditional flute and mouth bow rhythms. Her latest album, Ceder (2018), offers an acoustic duo – Stacey on piano with Peruvian flutist and composer, Camilo Angeles. Both albums offer the unusual – some frantic, some familiar rhythms; some wily, some bizarre sound phrasings; a dentist’s drill; some familiar mouth bow overtone sounds of rural southern Africa, sounds of animals and birds, the list goes on. Beware: on Ceder, your dog’s ears will be affected, if not dancing! The titles of the pieces to be performed at Spier are enticing in themselves: Stacey’s visual-score “Luhlata njengetjani” and Dijk’s “How to Sit Underwater”.

Tickets for the Spier Festival on November 23, 2019 are R380 from www.quicket.co.za . The Night Light Collective performs from 3.15pm – 4.15pm.                                        

                                              ++++++++++++++++++++++
I caught up with Dr. Stacey who presently resides in Johannesburg to find out more about what makes her musical spirit tick.

Your contemporary music – what to expect at Spier

CM: The group you are playing with at Spier – Reza Khota, etc. Did you choose this group?
CS: It started as a string quartet led by Matthijs who has a strings background. We were all close friends, united in our particular musical experimental tastes. I’ve worked with Bryton Bolton and Reza Khota in my own capacity – we have different musical backgrounds. We had played in Makanda earlier this year, and with Lungiswa Plaatjies we played at the  Johannesburg International Mozart Festival last year. We basically workshop and experiment together. Our music will be diverse and from our own compositions.

CM: What sounds can we expect from your group, given your own eclectic preferences and training?
CS: With that ensemble, I play indigenous southern African instruments and these musicians all offer me good rhythms. I’ve gained a lot of experience from people who have written in ways I would not have played on those instruments, but can do so in this ensemble space. So I don’t see it too different for myself. And because Matthijs and I come from a classical training, and from the original ensemble, I would say it’s more of a ‘new music’ ensemble. We do quite a bit of improvisation, but it draws more on the contemporary classical type of musical language, so I will play piano in that vein in the ensemble. In my solo capacity, I like to do different things. And in my research I do different things as well.

Musical Kinetics

Stacey’s prototype of medieval perpetual flute with water-based mechanics

CM: What made you gravitate towards the kinetic arts and use of machinery in sound? You were influenced by some Swiss inventors, I believe?

CS: I had two residencies: One in Basel, Switzerland and the other in Brazil through the Africa Center in London. I am also a post-doc Fellow at UCT drawing musical connections existing pre-1500s across the Indian Ocean. It was quite different from my earlier research where I worked with musical bows in Swaziland, now called eSwatini . And I work a lot in performance-based projects whereby composing is a way of creating new knowledge. It was a departure from my other projects as I was all of a sudden surrounded by archaeologists looking at very early African and Asian histories. My task in that project in that year was to build this water-based instrument that had been designed in Baghdad in the 1200s. Sometimes academia can be that way. It’s an old manuscript that laid out the sounds of music.  https://www.news.uct.ac.za/article/-2019-03-19-magical-flutes-links-to-early-islamic-robotics

In my research, I noticed how many kinetic and mechanical items were passing my way, and while I was resident in Switzerland, I came across Swiss kinetic artists like Jean Tinguely (d. 1991) in a huge museum in Basel honouring his work. Then, when I went to Brazil, the strangest coincidence happened: a Swiss man who had lived in Salvador where I was, had brought musical ideas about all sorts of design things, and made these kinetic musical instruments. So he influenced me with kinetic principles while I was building this Iraq prototype machine – it was crazy! I’m super ignorant about these things, and one year is definitely not long enough to grapple with such a design. I managed to build this plastic prototype of that machine which lives under my desk now!

Making of Things That Grow album

CM: In your Things That Grow album, there are songs that sound quite dark. What influenced you to compose those songs?
CS: The album, released in 2015, was midway during the PhD when I was getting ready to head back to eSwatini to do more research. The process of making that album was an interesting one. My Masters before that had focused on innovation with southern African bows. I knew most of the bow players around, so I often see the fusions or new forms people make in their performances. There’s often a spoken word component, or the bows take on a certain role in any live ensemble, particularly in traditional rural performance, for instance – all very innovative in their own ways. I wanted to challenge myself in the use of those roles. So I was lucky when living in the UK to have an innovative partner at that time, Shabaka Hutchings, who is a fantastic musician and improviser. I wanted recording sessions with open minded improvisers , mostly jazz musicians, to try to break down some of those roles which traditional instruments tend to take. So I composed different things and just booked the people I respected. They walked into the studio, we tried a lot of things which I didn’t like. Everything was an experiment. I had written a variety of notes, a folk song, something for the drum kit, whatever. I threw out what I had written, so about half the album is improvised. I just drew on the talents of others, and we played combinations of trios and duos. There’s a couple of tunes that are groove-based and you can hear that. ‘Fox’ is my favourite song with a clarinet melody to fit over this mouth bow pattern, so it was all quite experimental. Since I was applying the rural African bow, I had to work out all the sounds that I liked, but try not to replicate music that wasn’t mine.

Experience with African Music – Overtone Sounds

CM: When we talk about ‘African’ music, it really is so varied and eclectic from one side of the continent to the other. What’s your favourite African area in terms of the music you’ve studied?
CS: It has to be eSwatini because of the long time I’ve spent there working with traditional players, composing with them, and doing research on their instruments. I also listen to a lot of archival and old recordings and different contemporary stuff. Then my studies in London focused strongly on different African music, particularly West African as well, like classic ensembles from the 60s and 70s. So it’s difficult for me to pinpoint areas, but I would say southern Africa and West African because of its lyrical styles ….and how they integrate indigenous instruments which is what I’m interested in.

CM: Which music do you gravitate towards in South Africa with its explosion of different forms of musical expression now? In general.
CS: There’s so much!! I’m generally multi-tasking with so much work – I try to stay on top of things, especially dance music, but it’s so incredible out there – so much innovation all the time. It’s easier for me to watch indigenous instruments as I’m in that scene, and I know a lot of the people doing innovations. These creatives are largely under-supported. We’re trying to uplift all the players of those instruments, and at the same time support each other as working musicians. For instance,
Cândido Salomão Zango, also known as ‘Matchume’, from Mozambique is a key link for me with Mozambiquan musicians.

Machume Zango at PNTGM

The eSwatini rural area is important for me. Moving back to South Africa was so confusing! In eSwatini I had a much closer connection with Mozambique – this changes one’s perspectives on a whole range of political, social, and cultural issues. I guess I felt a sense of international connection being outside of South Africa which is a powerful country of influence in the region.

CM: … and an African reality. When you’re talking about the ‘Africanness’ of local music, you’re crossing into an African spirituality, aren’t you? Like what journalist Struan Douglas writes about, or pianist Nduduzo Mhakhatini advocates in his compositions…..
CS: I can speak about the instruments I know best: When I spent so much time with these older musicians in eSwatini, iaged 80s to 90s, they exposed me to lyrical, poetic things that I would never have had contact with. Even where I grew up in eSwatini, I was relatively disconnected with that rural cultural experience. The way eSwatinis use their language is so artistic, like poetry to me. Different to urban slang, you learn through the language and music. This is a different world dealing with spirituality and culture – of these artists being outside of the cash economy. And this is such a different way of being an artist compared to my life, for instance.

CM: I hear in your music the repetition, the chant, common in traditional music. There’s also a low register in the music, like the American Indian music has this low earthy rumble that calls out to the ancestors. Is this the attraction of mouth bow music to you?
CS: As an ethnomusicologist, I know there are a bunch of us who are strong players who think about music from a performance and composing perspective. Some are also doing a more traditional type of research; others maybe more innovative research which brings those two things together – performance and composing. Because of that, I’m exposed to so many types of music from around the world , being in that academic scene, which means that music we listen to globally is almost always popular, commercial music, whether it’s jazz or classical. There are certain structures of the music that we are familiar with. So it takes an effort and skill for people to hear and construct music in a completely different way. For me, bow music has opened me up in a lot of ways because of the way the instrument is played and structured, and the overtone nature of the sound. You listen and create or compose in a completely different way to, like, if I was writing a jazz tune, or for a string quartet. Many different structures and modes of listening: People don’t hear, for instance, the integration of traditional instruments in a pop song; they don’t hear the form of those instruments.

This is why I’m drawn to different types of instruments. If you listen to people like Colin Stetson, he uses that dance, overtone quality in the saxophone. I think people in South Africa are starting to think outside the box in terms of how to structure music. Stetson deals with these deep cycles that, to me, are similar to southern African bow music, but his is a fundamentally different structure to the music. It’s closer to, say, classical minimalists, some other composers that create organized sound that we are not always familiar with. And there are lots of communities around the world that do that in very different ways. I’m lucky in that I go to conferences and have colleagues well versed in making music people are otherwise not familiar with.

Running Concert Series in One’s Home Town

CM: Talk about your concert series in your communities. There’s a whole topic of concern about the ‘lack of venues’…. The venues are there, but the business angle needs to be worked out, to get owners on board with a good business model.
CS: My colleague, Nicola du Toit, and I do a live music series called Betwixt https://betwixtmusic.co.za/  and started it when the ‘Straight No Chaser’ club closed in Cape Town. So now in JHB, we put on live performances in different places. But getting patrons there is so stressful. Basically, doing live means loosing money! When I started the concert series, I realised how hard it was to get people to attend. We had created a model where it was really affordable , and there were add-ons to encourage people to come. But it made me realise that it was on me as well, to go out and spend my money at gigs, and support artists I respect. Musicians can get despondent at audiences, but I think, having been on a number of international residencies where I have met people who are dealing with similar issues in different parts of the world, it is on us to support each other.

CM: That’s very generous of you. I know this is a theme of students at jam sessions – they’re coming out with a real solidarity
CS: It has to be that way. It is so hard to find space for artists to do what they would creatively want to do with live audiences. Audiences do love the arts and will try, but even the musicians wouldn’t come to our gigs. I’m more peripheral in my musical tastes, but I support my male friends’ gigs. However, they never come to mine! I think that for there to be a healthy live ecosystem, there’s lots of responsibility all around. I did a residency in America in 2016 with many musicians from all around the world, who had albums out and had performed a lot. Every one of them also ran a concert series in their home town. So that made me think that I need to contribute something locally, since I move around a lot with live performances. Everyone was involved in creating space for other musicians, as well.

See www.carastacey.com

See www.carastacey.com

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Jazz meets Classical: a Festival of Contemporary South African Musical Encounters at Spier Wine Farm

The Spier Wine Farm will come alive on Saturday, 23 November, with a very special music festival meant to bring authentic jazz and contemporary classical maestros to Spier’s renovated outdoor amphitheatre, long missing the eager arts crowds it hosted years back. The inaugural South African Jazz and Classical Encounters Festival will groove with three seasoned and well-established jazz bands and two classical groups, all known for their interpretive encounters with sound, instrumentation, voice, and rhythm. The brain child of music entrepreneur and former owner of the Orbit jazz club in Johannesburg, Aymeric Peguillan, in association with Shirley de Kock and Associates, this Festival brings not only musical icons to the stage for seven hours, but also opportunities for patrons to enjoy the natural surroundings of Spier and its refreshments on offer, such as casual dining or pre-booked picnics.

Peguillan’s PEGS Music Project (www.pegsmusicproject.co.za) has ambitious plans which reflect his own passion for South African jazz. French-born Peguillan met the jazz experience early in his youth, and ventured on listening journeys to hear and meet musicians playing American jazz standards. Professionally, he has juggled this musical passion with humanitarian development assistance work with MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders in English) in various African and eastern European countries stressed by civil war and other disasters.

“After many years working with MSF, I was sent to South Africa in 1994 to head up its office in Johannesburg. I resigned two years later in 1996 and ventured into teaching, the film industry, and some advertising. But my love of jazz pushed me to open up a live jazz club in Troyville for several years and there I met a lot of South African musicians.”

Johannesburg remained Peguillan’s base as he moved again in MSF circles in Geneva and Swaziland. The jazz bug bit again.

“My wife and I raised our two young children in Swaziland, but I returned to Johannesburg, left MSF, and opened The Orbit jazz club in 2012. This was my ultimate passion, to have a premier live jazz venue where the musicians would feel comfortable meeting and playing with each other, and where patrons could experience the best in live music and cuisine.”

Most unfortunately, the Orbit closed down in 2018 after a winning streak of some six years. Life moves on.

“Concerning the upcoming November 23rd Spier event, I was inspired by wanting upmarket and interesting places for quality music festivals, annually, instead of the current options of big convention centers. Growing up in Europe, my experience of festivals was hearing great music in great places, like in an old church, or in a vineyard. Also, I like the mixing of the performing arts, which is what another PEGS project is – When Ballet Meets Jazz. This mixing of audiences and bringing people together, who love the performing arts, is what I like. The Spier event is also, I think, in line with nation-building, for people who would not normally sit together…. this sort of thing.”

Marrying the best of classical and jazz in a South African context is what November 23rd is about.  The schedule is tight, opening the doors at 13:00. The Kyle Shepherd Trio opens the event and features pianist Shepherd, Shane Cooper on double bass, and drummer Jonno Sweetman, a group that has played and grown together over the years. Following this act is composer/arranger and musician Matthijs Van Dijk as part of the Night Light Collective with pianist Cara Stacey, double bassist Brydon Bolton, and guitarist Reza Khota. These artists are known for their ‘cross-over’ creations with contemporary music of a South African vein. Stacey also plays southern African musical bows, such as the umrhubhe, uhadi,and makhoyane  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZqhW-H2MAg&list=PLIDnYe90LHghhFtaCKyBYPs5oslirN_02

Award winner Van Dijk has performed in several musical genre groups, from a rock band to chamber orchestra.

Trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni’s Tune Recreation Committee has stellar jazz artists: Reza Khota, bassist Nicholas Williams, drummer Clement Benny, and pianist Afrika Mkhize. They tell stories. http://www.alljazzradio.co.za/2019/01/26/trcs-afrika-grooves-tells-artists-stories-mlangeni-and-mkize-discusss/

Violist and composer Jan-Hendrik Harley takes to the stage next, with his 11-musician contemporary group Ensemble, Je Ne Comprends Pas, which promises to woo the audience with some breath taking compositions, from chamber music pieces to electro-acoustic.

Lastly, the refreshingly lilting, wistful vocals of jazz trumpeter, Mandisi Dyantyis, supported by saxophonist Buddy Well, pianist Blake Hellaby, bassist Steve De Sousa, and drummer Lumanyano Unity Mzi will surely please.   http://www.alljazzradio.co.za/2019/02/14/trumpeter-vocalist-mandisi-dyantyis-emotes-stories-in-somandla-a-cd-review/

Bookings are essential through Quicket at R380 for the day.
Spier Amphitheatre, SPIER Wine Farm, R310 Baden Powell Drive, Stellenbosch.

The schedule: (Doors open at 13:00)
14.00 pm to 15:00 pm – Kyle Shepherd Trio
15:15 to 16:15 pm – The Night Light Collective
16:45 to 17:45 – Mandla Mlangeni’s Tune Recreation Committee
18:00 to 19:00 – Jan-Hendrik Harley Ensemble Je ne Comprends Pas
19 :45 to 20:45 – Mandisi Dyantyis Quintet

Facebook: Jazz & Classical Encounters at Spier
021 809 1100, 078 398 62 50
info@spier.co.za, or aypeguillan@gmail.com

Shirley de Kock Gueller shirley@gueller.com / 071 318 1495

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Brandee Younger – Soul Awakening Released, June 2019

Album Cover

CD Review by Eric Alan Sun 20 October 2019

There have been few Jazz Harpists in the world of music, after all how many musicians would count the concert harp as a lead instrument in jazz today. Casper Reardon has been acknowledged as the person who brought the world attention to the harp and a lead jazz instrument and that was way back in the 1930’s. In 1936 he became known as the World’s Hottest Harpist, sadly he passed away at the tender age of 33 in 1941. Having known and enjoyed the works of earlier jazz harpists Turiya (Turiyasangitananda, her full adopted Sanskrit name) Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Jeanne Thompson better known as Dorothy Ashby, and recently discovering the music of Brandee Harper.

This is young harpist, Brandee’s 5th album, Soul Awakening, which has been independently released June 7, 2019 just a few weeks before her birthday on July 1. The album was recorded back in 2012 under the eagle eye and nimble fingers of producer and bassist Dezron Douglas supported by a cast of well-known musicians and friends.

Soul Awakening has come as a very pleasant listening experience and a surprise to me. Many who know me know that I have a penchant for instruments not usually associated in jazz. This highly talented young composer, recording artist, bandleader, sought after studio and touring musician has brought the concert harp, back as the lead instrument to the forefront in the jazz world of today.

As most who know me when reviewing I try not to get too technical and prefer to review the overall likeability of an album. This one is very appealing with each track offering a highly enjoyable listening experience. Each of the musicians and guests bring and fill the soundscape with a joyful exuberance that is heard in their playing showing that they too enjoyed the making of this music. As each chapter unfolds and expands one cannot wait for the full story to be brought to the life in ones minds eye and by the end of the album understanding the full picture of what all concerned were trying to showcase. I must confess that I love this album so give it a listen then add it to your collection one will not be disappointed.

Track Listing

  1. Soulris ft. Ravi Coltrane 04:53
  2. Lindalee 04:43
  3. Love’s Prayer ft. Ravi Coltrane 05:22
  4. Respected Destroyer ft. Sean Jones07:01
  5. Games 05:42
  6. Save the Children ft. Niia 05:30
  7. Soul Awakening 03:51
  8. Blue Nile ft. Antoine Roney 07:33

Musicians
Brandee Younger, concert harp
Dezron Douglas, bass, producer
EJ Strickland, drums
Ravi Coltrane, tenor sax, tracks 1,3
Sean Jones, trumpet, track 4
Freddie Hendrix, trumpet, track 2
Stacy Dillard, soprano sax, tracks 7,8
Chris Beck, drums, tracks 1,3
Chelsea Baratz, tenor sax, tracks 2,4,7
Nicole Camacho, flute, track 7
Antoine Roney, tenor sax, track 8
Corey Wilcox, trombone, track 4
Niia, vocals, track 6

For more info visit Brandee’s website at http://www.brandeeyounger.com
To get your copy of the Soul Awakening go to her Bandcamp site at https://brandee.bandcamp.com/album/soul-awakening

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Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini: African ancestry meets Diaspora jazz – a Trans-Atlantic connection through the Blue Note jazz label

He’s back home, with another mission, after participating in the elegant kickoff concert with the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York City, celebrating 25 years of democracy in South Africa after Apartheid’s end. Jazz pianist & self-professed healer, Nduduzo Makhathini, was one of five South African instrumentalists and three vocalists to present their compositions at this illustrious opening evening on 12 September.

Nduduzo Makhathini receiving SAMA 2017 award

Nduduzo Makhathini receiving SAMA 2017 award

He had also signed onto America’s premier jazz Blue Note Record Label four months prior to the official announcement at these celebrations. American jazz legend Wynton Marsalis and South African-born Seton Hawkins (Director of Public Programs and Education Resources at Jazz at Lincoln Center) heralded in this ‘first’ collaboration between some of America’s most experienced jazz musicians in this LC Jazz Orchestra and key South African jazz musicians known for pushing creative boundaries.

Wynton Marsalis at 2019 New Orleans Jazz Billboard

Makhathini’s exploration of music as one form of the healing arts focuses on ‘inner-tainment’ (coined by his late Mentor, Zim Ngqawana) which directly contrasts with contemporary jazz struggles ‘entertaining’ still fragile audiences seeking some sort of spiritual release in music. For him, the passage across the Atlantic Ocean to Lincoln Center remains an important milestone: an opportunity to celebrate and draw up links between the African modes of healing through music (or African cosmologies) and the African Diaspora in America who, he thinks, may have lost spiritual and ritual connections with the African Ancestors.

When I noted how rigid and vibe-less the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra seemed when performing the works of (and with) the South African musicians on stage, important clarifications were made by Makhathini:

“The Atlantic was on my mind in this event. I see Jazz as a music of people in displacement. Even early South African jazz had to navigate around the pains and restriction of Apartheid South Africa; yet South Africans have all along been very aware of American jazz, but not visa versa. “

Makhathini, in fact, admitted that his jazz studies syllabus at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) borrowed heavily from American jazz history, and that there were few references to early South African musicians, like Chris McGregor and his Brotherhood exiled in Europe.

“There were no linkages, such as when Coltrane died, South African Winston Mankunku was emerging as a premier jazz musician at home. Similarly, pianist Bheki Mseleku influenced me during my Durban studies, yet he didn’t find that recognition or space to grow his music in South Africa, as he did find during his long exile in London.”      https://www.osirispod.com/podcasts/burning-ambulance/burning-ambulance-nduduzo-makhathini/

While South Africans found solace in some recognition abroad during internal displacements of apartheid, it has been only in the last two post-apartheid decades that artists have emerged from South African training institutions to find voice and patronage at home venues.  “While this creative emergence of South African jazz explored various types of fusions, rhythms, messages, and even healing vibrations from their cultural histories, the African Diaspora has not pursued these connections as forcefully,” says Makhathini.

Why? Makhathini feels that due to slave histories, “the Diaspora may fear that reconnection with ancestral pasts”, most likely because different spaces and cultural environments have been created in the New World. He has made it repeatedly clear that, based on African spiritual cosmologies, African performances invoke spiritual connections, adding chant, ritual, and body movement (dance) to express the communication. His superb interview with USA-based Burning Ambulance podcast (noted above) clearly details his philosophies. His study and admiration of Randy Weston’s legacy has taught the importance of reviving trans-Atlantic linkages between the various musical cultures, also.

Hence, Makhathini considers these trans-Atlantic meetings very reconciling for him.

“At the Lincoln Center in New York, rehearsals with their Jazz Orchestra were important moments. I would stand up and start to dance to get the orchestra to understand the vibe behind our South African compositions. My aim was to expose a deeper mode of remembrance.”

His albums, Ikhambi, and Listening to the Ground, contain fusions of how music becomes healing, how healing connects with listening in the African oral tradition, that one listens THROUGH sound, not TO sound. In Ground, it’s about ‘talking to the ground’, and listening to the Ancestors’ messages. 

Ikhambi album cover

So how can these spiritual and healing connections of Africanisms be infused into the Blue Note jazz label, now celebrating 80 years in the record industry in America?

Makhathini explained how African music uses echoes, drawing on repeated messages from the fundamental roots of African oral tradition. “The Yoruba traditions of Nigeria and even the roots of Cuban music cast echoes of ancestral vibration”, exemplified by Nigeria’s noted Afro-jazz fusionist, Fela Ransom Kuti in the 1970s whereby his notorious Lagos shrine housed the collective echoes of Yoruba tradition.

By joining the Blue Note Label, Makhathini hopes to bridge these trans-Atlantic waters, as a healing metaphor, to create culturally rich musical linkages between peoples of African ancestry who travel over those waters, not as forced migrants or slaves, but as collaborating professionals. The Label’s President, Don Was, seemed to echo this sentiment in his invitation letter to Makhathini: “You embody the artistry that has distinguished the label for the last 80 years and your presence on the roster is proof that the Blue Note ethos is alive and well!”

Makhathini has gleefully accepted:

“I hope to bring that echo of the past into the Blue Note label, so that a voice that has been silenced for a long time can be heard. When playing recently at the Blue Note Club in New York City, I saw the potential for this bridge. Naturally, I’m surrounded by healing vibrations. Healing gets channelled in my music. In my album, Ikhambi, I make concoctions for healing through the musicians themselves and their instruments. When we think about healing, we think of drum, chant, dance, and letting go. There must be a functionality of music in our lives. “

Ikhambi was recorded in the UK in 2017, with one South African (drummer Ayanda Sikade) and others from UK bands, some members who had played with Bheki Mseleku. The album’s songs are meant to restore that spirit of “family beyond kinship”, and connect with the Diasporic feelings, perhaps, of ‘not being at home’.

We enthusiasts, critics, promoters, and supporters are encouraged to watch carefully as this 21st century jazz-induced ‘inner-tainment’ unfolds under the sails of the Blue Note Label. May favourable winds curate Makhathini’s  exciting and transformative journey through trans-Atlantic waters.

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Italian jazz pianist Giovanni Guidi stuns with atypical styles

Visiting Italian jazz pianist, Giovanni Guidi, sent highly improvised sonic waves through Cape Town’s jazz centers recently, leaving in his path networks, some confusion among listeners, but deep respect for choosing stellar musicians to accompany his journey.

G Guidi-courtesy Clement Puig of ECM

Youngblood Cultural Center in central Cape Town came alive again as Guidi  soloed through his first set, and settled listeners into his style. His is more than a sonic journey; he transports, through a matrix of emotional jolts, intellectual explorations, reality checks, and rhythmic changes, to land back on terra firma of the familiar kind. 

This 35-year old has achieved enormous successes, having performed and mentored with some of the great jazz musicians of Europe, notably with Italian trumpet aficionado, Enrico Rava, to name a few. Guidi’s style is hard to describe – he leaves chordal harmonies aside to evoke emotions of disturbance, then resolve. With body swaying over the keys, Guidi connects his sonic messages from lower register rumblings to treble crescendos, crashing into a more subtle tone of a familiar tune which leads the way. His take on such standards as ‘My Funny Valentine’, or ‘Over the Rainbow’, morph out of a cloud of delusion into gentler refrains, thus bringing some relief to the ears. Like silence after a heavy tropical downpour.

In the second set, fellow musicians admirably plucked to Guidi’s free style intros to familiar tunes. Each artist had freedoms to solo and explore: Dutch bassist and Cape Town resident, Hein van der Geyn, could occasionally lead and add percussive beats; Rus Nerwich’s tenor sax could squeak and squeal; Lee Thompson’s trumpet had permission to run away; and drummer Jonno Sweetman whispered and enunciated multiple rhythms, depending on the band’s mood. The piano was not always easy to listen to, but the complementarity of other instruments brought sense back to purpose.

Likewise, an unusual duo concert with legendary Brotherhood of Breath drummer, Louis Moholo-Moholo, now approaching age 80, brought respecting listeners to Langa’s Guga S’Thebe cultural center. Understandably, Guidi had been influenced in his early years by this South African band-in-exile and the improvised styles of pianist Chris McGregor during their 1970s-80s hay days. But the aging Moholo struggled to keep up with the zesty Guidi piano this time, with sounds merging more into a monotonous clackety-clack routine. Still, Guidi’s piano held its own with familiar standards fading in and out of chordal outbursts.

It seems this young, talented pianist wants to explore more….with South African artists…. and find out what makes the South African sound so special. While his Italian Cultural tour was brief this trip, Guidi hopes to spend longer time on South Africa’s soil in the near future and possibly record with his favourite artists, many identified so far

Guidi’s latest recording, Avec Le Temps, exemplifies where he is taking his music with his jazzahead! 2019 quintet:   

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Going ‘Native’ in Cape Town Brings Music back to the ‘Hoods

This article was published in the anthology of stories, “Writing My City: Ordinary Capetownians on Their Extraordinary Home”, by the City of Cape Town, 2019.  The book was launched at the Open Book Festival 2019 this September at the Fugard Theatre, with thanks for the collaboration with The Book Lounge and City of Capetown Libraries.

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The smell of corn cobs and boerewors on the braai, from which oozes charcoal white smoke, meets the nose which points to sniff out other table stalls of second-hand books, and textile and ceramic craft items splashed with colourful designs. People are buzzing about the Kofififee mobile kiosk as ‘Thaps’ churns out cappuccinos or hot chocolates. There’s a slight warmth in this winter air as one saunters through the yard to enter the auditorium of Guga S’Thebe Community Center in the heart of Langa, Cape Town’s oldest township off the National Highway N2. The yard with mosaic wall art bustles with musicians and patrons rubbing shoulders as both place their drink or food orders at the auditorium’s ‘snack’ window. ..or buys an affordable late lunch of curried beef and veggies with fluffy rice from the ‘food pot’ table.

It’s 4 o’clock on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Once inside the auditorium, the high roof with a few art works on the walls frames the seating area for some 120 plus people. The ‘Wine Shaq’ table offers a variety of independently distributed wines from the Cape Winelands – always ‘local is lekker’ in attitude and taste. One carefully nurtured wineglass will last through the first set as patrons take their seats. The band numbers five well-seasoned musicians. A hush falls as the gig begins…and the experience continues…

This is Jazz in the Native Yards, bringing the music back to the ‘hood’. The Natives are at home! The patrons are also multi-cultural, coming from various demographics of the wider municipality. The home legends are being heard…and remembered.

The 2019 South African Music Awards (SAMA) voted ‘Neo-Native’ by pianist Bokani Dyer as the best jazz album. Dyer has been exploring what it means to be ‘native’, he coming from a mixed family of Botswana African and Zimbabwe European cultures but brought up and groomed in South Africa. Cape Town pianist and multi-instrumentalist, Hilton Schilder, brought out his ‘Alter Native’ album in 2017 as a statement about his musical and cultural roots combined with modern jazz influences. Another SAMA nominated pianist, Sibusiso Mashiloane, states in his newest album, ‘Closer to Home’, how ancestral and contemporary African musical traditions can wed nicely with contemporary improvisational styles in sound. The Native is back! These artists are examples of bringing their music back into those neighbourhoods from which they have learned much of their craft.

Jazz in the Native Yards, while proudly endorsing the otherwise unfortunate apartheid address for township communities resident in ‘NY’ numbered streets, is enthusiastically spreading its philosophy of taking those ‘hood musical styles to other ‘hoods. After all, Cape jazz and South African jazz emanated and developed their unique sounds from many back yards during apartheid restrictions on township residents’ movements. In turn, this provided relief – comic and musical – for both artists and patrons in weathering the debilitating effects of racial, economic, and political separation from the country’s wealth and opportunities.

Jazz in the Native Yards traces its ancestral footprints to the 1960s when impromptu live jazz sessions took place every weekend in Cape Town’s townships and elsewhere. Back then, jazz enthusiasts listened to Josh Sithole who made the penny whistle famous, even on street corners of major cities. The Nofemele brothers played The Manhattan Brothers covers with unsurpassed flair. The Ngcukana brothers from Gugulethu performed with their father Mra and the legendary Abdullah Ibrahim, and became a regular feature in the community yards.

Then, a change in access evolved: Post-apartheid Jazz clubs moved more to town centers, requiring enthusiasts to leave their home areas, and find often expensive means of transport to evening events which also charged fees higher than what true jazz fans from marginalised communities could afford. This restrictive gap in access to the quality legendary music has now been revealed: many arts and culture promoters no longer wish to dominate live jazz through another form of exclusionary, middle class opportunity to hear quality music.

Ironically, as these town ‘clubs’ started closing down for various management and financial reasons in the past 10 years, the call from communities became loud and clear: ‘We want the music here, with us!” Thus, live jazz started brewing again in Native Yards and communities throughout Cape Town’s metropolis; in restaurants, in a bakery, at an artisanal ginnery or beer brewery, at cultural centers , like Langa’s Guga S’Thebe, and even in musicians’ homes. Those opportunities to preserve the proven legacies of jazz giants like Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Robbie Jansen and Cups Nkanuka, were taking hold, partly thanks to appreciative and discerning younger musicians who saw value and integrity in preserving musical histories. These well-trained musicians also wanted live platforms to strut their stuff.

Since the Native Land Act of 1913 defined separate development with the later enforcement of the Group Areas Act in 1950, non-white South African citizens found themselves in unattractive and unsustainable economic and social conditions, unable to break out of their township confines to pursue a more progressive life. Instead, undesirable forms of behaviour plunged them into gangsterism, drug peddling and alcoholism.

In contemporary times, Jazz in the Native Yards seeks to avoid a downward spiral by grooming human creativity, especially among the youth from marginalised communities. Its projects were born in 2015 and JiNY developed a social movement that encourages the use of live jazz performances as platforms for diverse musical voices to be heard and seen. Young and older musicians can ‘meet and greet’ each other on these platforms. For instance, Marimba specialist, Bongani Shotsoananda from Gugulethu, often comes to afternoon concerts at the homey ‘Kwa Sec’ house where weekend gigs feature a variety of South African and international bands. Another legendary jazz pianist, Tete Mbambisa, and Langa singer Ncediwe Sylvia Mdunyelwa, pop in to see what the younger ones are doing. Sometimes, these venues hold workshops before the live performances, further adding to the artistic excitement.

It’s about ‘Experience’, says Koko Nkalashe, one of the founders of JiNY. “We want to create spaces and opportunities for more social cohesion for Western Cape residents, a positive ambience of backyard performance venues for residents and visitors alike to get to know and understand South Africa’s diversity, rather than just focus on its marginalised communities. “ These spaces, safe but simple, grow paying audiences who thereby offer opportunities whereby artists can actually earn an income rather than rely on free or sponsored concerts.

So where does one ‘catch’ these audiences? JiNY has ‘Routes’: musicians can perform at centers which have sizeable data bases of patrons, like the annual Stellenbosch Woordfeest as part of the musical program; then a Sunday afternoon at the Delheim Wine Estate pulling in residents from Franschoek and surroundings, then continue on to Khayalitsha’s Isivivanda Center ; then on to Mitchells Plain’s Alliance Francaise Cultural Center (still in progress). That’s the ‘Eastern Route’. Patrons and fans who live along the way can catch quality performances and be able to afford paying for the experience.

The ‘Central Route’ comprises of Gugulethu’s Kwa Sec which is a private home space for smaller crowds; then to Nyanga Arts Center (still in progress) which receives supports by the Belgium government….. then on to Langa’s Guga S’Thebe Cultural Center for larger crowds, and continue on to the Alliance Francaise in central Cape Town CBD or to an arts and culture gallery on Bree Street.

All of these routes seek to engage the moneyed class and less economically endowed residents in experiencing together the fruits of musical achievements of the younger and older legends coming from these communities. Adding to the Experience are people’s video snippets on social media, selfies with musicians, and other pictorial stories which show patrons’ excitement. Clinking wine glasses, rattling coffee cups, audience members dancing, and an inside fire roaring to keyboard runs – people experience joyful fun and amusement in the vibey arena. And when the experience is good, you sure will want to return and find your new-found friends at the next gig….and on and on it goes. Socializing, appreciating, learning, seeing, asking questions, understanding, liking, tasting, telling others – the experiences expand.

Performing in ‘Native Yards’ does not benefit just local musicians and local patrons. Word spreads, rippling through social media, radio, print media outlets, and country Embassies. When South African musicians work on projects overseas, namely in Europe and seldom in USA, international visitors, musicians, and music business promoters hear about the ‘hood happenings, and know where to go. Fundors like ConcertsSA, the Italian Consulate, Swiss promoters, and others, enable music students and their teachers to collaborate and spread music in the ‘Hoods.

Indeed, the Legends listen from their ancestral heights in pure delight!

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Sound and space need better coordination: Zoe Molelekwa tests Youngblood Gallery

Take the wall paintings and sculptures made from metal, wire, and wood, and put together the sound of a solo baby grand piano and what do you get? Visual art meets musical vibrations producing a soulful push that is once meditative, and gently soothing in this creative space. Then add an able drummer, bass guitar and amplification and the whole sonic experience crumbles. High ceilings of this otherwise delightful gallery simply do not permit loud percussive instruments to work. Framed visual art pieces can survive on well painted or brick walls with some clever lighting effects, but sounds depend on spacial air to carry the vibrations which is why wind instruments and human voices resonate kindly in cathedrals and in lofty no-ceiling structures.

Zoe Molelekwa at piano with Buddy Wells on sax

Youngblood Arts and Cultural Development Gallery on Bree Street in central Cape Town, while a space for experiencing awe and wonderment at the visuals on display, finds it challenging to provide a decent sound for a variety of instruments. Pianist Zoe Molelekwa handled his solos delicately on the baby grand piano, so rarely available for concerts in public places. Thank you, Gallery, for this. His repetitive phrasing, almost chant-like, and soft touch of chords splitting apart into runs made for easy and thoughtful music to the ears.

When his capable band members chimed in, the upped volume with bass amplification drowned out both piano and bass guitar. Buddy Well’s enduring saxophone could rise above the cacophony of sounds and carry the tune well. High ceilings simply don’t do justice to the music. Then again, why amplify so loudly in such a small space as the Youngblood’s foyer?

Also, musician training – to talk clearly and loudly into the microphone when introducing a song or message – requires attention of the artist to mic deficiencies. It was such a pity that one heard little this evening inspite of this aspiring young musician’s attempts to present his hard-worked compositions.

A pleasant arrangement of tables and chairs by the bar provided nourishment and a cosy atmosphere for diners to view the stage just before the show started. But the coffee grinding machine humming during a solo piano just doesn’t work; the meditative mood set by the pianist was shattered as wine glasses or cutlery falls. Bars near the seated audience need to shut their noise, not shut down, during an act. Simple.

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In contrast, Guga S’thebe Cultural Center in Langa provided, again, a pleasant, sound-perfect experience when young Molelekwa and his band took the stage last Sunday. Molelekwa’s piano solos were delicate, almost Pythagorean in healing , as head hung low , he massaged the keys with a depth of soul, even longing, as he ended his afternoon concert playing one of his late father’s songs. We could hear his microphone introductions clearly, in spite of his somewhat timid, perhaps shy, voice timber.

https://youtu.be/JcIqlanLZFw

Molelekwa and his drummer Bonolo Nkoane, his bassist Grant van Royen, and saxman Buddy Wells warrant applause for presenting the soulful compositions of young Molelekwa who seems to be well on his way to emulating his late father Moses Molelekwa’s creative jazz-bending styles. Caution, therefore, is required in choosing the right sound system for spaces unable to cushion those floating vibrations that easily distort.

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Jazz Pianist Zoe Molelekwa brings his “unconsciously South African” repertoire to Cape Town: an Interview

All Jazz Radio caught busy Zoe Molelekwa for an interview about what makes him tick with his music and life in general.

With all your current training and family influences, I was just wondering – everybody finds their own style as they grow into their music – so what’s your style? You’ve been influenced; you’ve studied, and probably done a lot of experimentation as well. What kind of sound do you feel comfortable with ? What turns you on in playing music?

Zoe Molelekwa – credit T. Visagie

Being around my father growing up, and absorbing the music he was playing, was a time very short-lived. I grew up in Soweto which was very culturally rich with music all around. There was so much to pick up from everyone. My one real experience that made me want to listen to jazz was from the old man who lived across the street from where I lived – I grew up with my uncle, on my mother’s side of the family. This man was always playing his LPs, but I could never know who he was playing. So, he challenged me to get to know my father’s music and CDs, and the older music on these vinyls, and how people were approaching this music . My formal music training started with the recorder in the First Grade. Then, I took up violin, then alto saxophone and just listening to different music. The music that attracted me most from South Africa was the mirabi and mbaqanga variety.

How did your family support you in pursuing music?

I had to work for a year after my high school.  Growing up on my Mom’s side of the family, they didn’t want me involved in music. So I worked at Exclusive Books for a year after my high school. There, I became very interested in stories, music, and art. I was always listening to music on my headphones, so the store asked me to make a playlist of music to play in the store. People in the store would come and ask me who was playing a song, and what’s the album called, this sort of thing. Some actually would buy the album and show me that they had bought it!

That’s when I started meeting musicians I had heard on radio, through their albums and interviews, and even seeing them at their performances. The first musician I met who helped me alot was Lwanda Gogwana, the trumpeter. He heard my father’s music being played in the store, and started to befriend me, asked me if I wish to pursue this music, and what my plans were.

Uhadi Traditional/Synth Modern – Lwanda Gogwana Expands Xhosa jazz

Then I was introduced to the pianist, Themba Mkize, who helped me find places where I could study music, and recommended University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN).

Wonderful. OK, I thought on your grandfather’s side (Moses’ father), you would be groomed as well.

Actually, I hardly ever saw my grandfather growing up. I saw him maybe four or five times when I was very young. This was not out of choice. Then when I was ten years old, I ran away [from my mother’s family side] because I felt suffocated. I really wanted to have an experience with music at that time. I was playing drums with my father when I was three or four years old. I would walk into his rehearsals and pick up the drummer’s stick and started beating. Then I got my own drum kit. When I was picked up from school, I would ask if my father was rehearsing at Kippies. If yes, I would ask to fetch my drum kit so I could rehearse with him. That’s the kind of environment I grew up with, and when I no longer had that, after my parents’ death, [when I was just six years old] and into my teen years, it really was challenging for me. But the exposure I had at that early age made me continue to listen and try to absorb all the sounds that I loved. So when I finally got an opportunity to study or express myself, I had a certain foundation already.

When you met up with Mkhize and Gogwana who encouraged you to continue in music, was your family still not supportive?

They were….yet in a sense they weren’t. I mean, to them, music was not considered a viable career for me. I think also with the circumstances surrounding my parents passing on, and the kind of environment that the music scene can operate in, they were reluctant about me being a part of that, of knowing what that environment actually is. It’s funny because even my mother was an artist, and her father was a great actor and musician, James Mthoba, who acted in various productions at the Market Theater [and was artistic director of the Theater], was a pianist in the film Sarafina, and worked with other actors, such as John Kani. So it was weird for me to experience this, knowing that there’s so much cultural heritage that we have at home that I could actually take so much from. It would also help me on my journey. But they weren’t so supportive so it ended up being that way.

Your mother’s father, did he support you?

He passed away when I was very young so didn’t know him. I tried to be around people I’d like to be like, like musicians. When I was studying privately with Themba Mkize, and I actually lived with him for a while, that’s when I met pianist Nduduzo Makhatini who became another great influence for me.

Nduduzo Makhathini

He was performing in Soweto with his band when I was on way back to JHB as my UKZN semester had just ended for the holidays. Nduduzo called me and asked me if I’d like to come with two tunes and rehearse with his band. The gig which followed was the first time I had performed my music live! I had been composing and attending performances, just trying to get to know how other musicians prepare for their performances, and what makes the music sound so great. So when I think about how I would present my music, it would come out as though I, too, am trying to set my own path in this music.

Where are you studying music now, and is it your full time love?

I’m in my 2nd year at UKZN Jazz Program with one more year to go. It’s not my only love but where my passion lies. I envision my performances to have many experiences which include visuals, sound, and words – I’m a poet as well – because I find words can express things we can’t feel in sound, or see in pictures. That’s the ultimate vision, but primarily, I’d like to be a full time musician, perhaps work as an arranger, or a film scorer, but also be involved in art entrepreneurship in the long run.

In what way? The entrepreneurship…..

I think my being around some of the great musicians to whom I and my peers look up to, and getting a sense of how to look at ourselves not only as musicians, but also as a business, teaches us how to make a living. I’m seeing certain things not known to musicians, that could actually really help in their careers. In the immediate sense, that’s how I’d like to be of help. Maybe have my own label. But for now, I just want to be a great musician and a great human being!

What are your other interests?

I enjoy art and also writing…. Literature. I experiment a lot; I write essays, I write short stories; sometimes I write poems . I’m thinking a bit broader to write novels…

What about some jazz journalism?

People have told me I should consider archiving or journalism – something more serious and worthwhile. I’ve been very busy just archiving my father’s works, trying to put all the content together and package it in such a way that it could be used by those hungry for the music.

I like your mention of stories and poems…. Not everyone can write, but it sounds like you have a facility for that. If you could spend a whole day in a library, what would you want to read?

I love History, African history. In earlier days, I read the Classics – Edgar Allan Poe and George Orwell. I like philosophy, many different schools of thought, Eastern philosophy, some Buddhist and Zen books. I practice Tai Chi – I’ve adopted this as a habit to keep me balanced about what troubles me.

I see you have a meditative style when you sit down at the piano, like at Guga S’Thebe during Hassan’adas tribute to your father’s music. Where do you think you fit into South African jazz? Where do you feel comfortable – with free flow, traditional, contemporary styles….?

I like the traditional – it’s like the foundation of the tree. In those earlier times, there were different things – socially, politically, and economically – that were influencing not only the way people were living, but the music which was being written for a certain purpose . I might fall under not just the traditional, but maybe the contemporary, African . There are influences, such as kwaito , deep house, hip hop which I’ve come to like. My father’s music was traditional, but also progressive…. I try to have nuances that are unconsciously South African because that’s where I come from.

Sunday, 25 August at Jazz Sessions, Masque Theater, Muizenberg, at 18.30 hrs. R120.

And at these sponsored by Jazz in the Native Yards: (see poster) 
Wed 28 August at Youngblood, 74 Bree Street, at 7.30pm
Friday 30 August at Alliance Francaise, 155 Loop Street, at 7.30pm
Sunday 1 September at Guga S’Thebe, Langa, at 4pm
Sunday 1 September at Selective Live, 189 Buitengracht St, at 7pm.

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Tradition and improv find musical foundations at Rootspring with Amathongo

An evening at Rootspring, a tall house originally built for an opera singer, just meters to Muizenberg’s False Bay beach, is guaranteed to swallow patrons into a vortex of known and unknown musical originality – wedding the traditional with improvisation that produce acoustically pleasing and sometimes surprising sounds. There’s also an experience to be had as the nontraditional seating ranges from movable chairs and large stuffed cushions on a bouncy floor made for dancing, to pillows on the stairwell to enhance the view onto the stage as well as the sound – in last Saturday’s case – of the five-piece Amathongo group.

Hidden away on the razed wing of the large main room is a wooden stove firing much welcomed heat on this wet wintry Cape Town night. Patrons arrive early to chat with friends and peg their seats, and perhaps open that bottle of wine they’ve brought and hope the cork doesn’t break into the bottle. When the gig starts sharp at 7pm, a hushed silence welcomes the incredible sounds and rhythms that break out for the first set.

https://youtu.be/cICllz9zfBE

Amathongo, an ethnically diverse group of musicians, entices you to connect with ‘ancestral spirits’, which is the isiZulu meaning. In keeping with Rootspring’s philosophy of promoting musical creativity, Amathongo describes itself as an evolving world music project, unique, South African and original. Its use of improvisation is also deeply rooted in traditional African styles. The sound strongly features traditional Southern African musical bows and other traditional African Instruments made popular by singer Madosini with her varieties of Uhade bows, and Pedro Espi-Sanchis on traditional flute. Get ready for a journey that beckons the listeners to explore their own ancestral roots!

Hilton Schilder outside his home in CT- credit Franziska Lentes

What makes a concert exciting is to see how each musician projects sounds within a classical musical scoring that allows for free flow solos. Pianist Hilton Schilder, known for his allegorical stories around the Cape ghoema music, most recently on his album, Alter Native, brings a spirituality to his piano. Coming from the legendary Cape Town musical Schilder family, Hilton has mastered traditional instruments that are home to the khoi/san roots of the Cape.


The keeper of the ancestral soul of Amathongo is Madosini on Xhosa bows, who centers the musically emotive storytelling within the group. All add their vocals to her isiXhosa praising and healing chants. Madosini is also the comic, with body language and facial expressions that jerk suddenly, waking up the otherwise meditative audience.  https://youtu.be/Gemr9gru72U

Madosini’s fellow singer and percussionist, Lungiswa Plaatjies, adds vocals and rhythms which enchant. Seasoned by her uncle, Dizu Plaatjies, professor of African indigenous music at University of Cape Town, ‘Lulu’ as she is called, became lead female vocalist of South Africa’s famous Amampondo group with her uncle. Their album, Ekhaya, became a popular eclectic, Xhosa-language version of Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues. Lulu has also reached music heights by being the first South African female musician to play the imbira and incorporate it into her compositions.    https://sarafinamagazine.com/2019/05/14/a-conversation-with-lungiswa-plaatjies/

One of Rootspring’s visionaries, guitarist Johnny Blundell, adds strings and box percussion that makes Amathongo sound eclectic with raps of folk and jazz.

Pedro with Madosini

But the eyes stare at the antics of Pedro Espi-Sanchis, known as ‘Pedro the Music Man’ from his long-running children’s television series in the 1990s. Rarely seen with Amathongo lately, Pedro proudly presents his kelp pipe flute, stringed guitar on tortoise shell, and a gourd-cased mbira.    https://youtu.be/XUFgqiCIYDk

Born in Spain and raised in France, Pedro has pleased audiences in South Africa for over 30 years through performances, education with young audiences, and storytelling. He can leave kids (and adults) spellbound as he shows how found objects can make music – paw-paw leaves, kudu horns, cow-bells, calabashes, seaweed, and more. It was the latter that he played on this inspiring Amathongo evening at Rootspring that excited – a Lekgodilo flute made from kelp pipe. Go down to your friendly Cape Town beach and find some black rubbery kelp pipe, cut it properly, and start blowing! Pedro shows how     https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=89&v=AN1OAXyjf9c

According to this instructive vimeo, the flute produces a lydian scale which becomes chromatic after the 6th degree. It is here where the roots of Jazz, i.e. improvisation, started from early times.    https://vimeo.com/8274470

Johnny Blundell, who also comes from an illustrious musical family in Cape Town, has visions and supports to make Rootspring one of the most eclectic, original, and progressive musical venues in greater Cape Town. Well-marketed with its newsy email Newsletter, it tells well in advance the types of bands booked for the month ahead. Sign up! http://www.rootspring.co.za  Become a Rootspringer!

Tickets are at www.quicket.co.za and include a pensioner price as well as pre-booked dinner wraps as a meal for those wanting a munch during the concert interval. Glasses are provided for your bring-your-own drinks or wines.

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Alma Café hosts ‘alternative’ cross-over music, and Alternative Folk prove it!

A wintry, rainy, cold August night in Cape Town is totally forgotten as 51 patrons fill the intimate Alma Café in Rosebank to capacity, to enjoy an unusual fanfare of music, plus a burger meal with dessert. It’s not every day one can hear Cape Town’s musicians perform unique compositions in different formats of sound reflecting their genre preferences. The Cafe’s family-run business on a tiny slip of road called Alma Road boasts two guitar-playing musicians – country folk guitarist father Richard Tait, known for his creative trouser patchworks and monitoring the sound system, and guitarist son Jono Tait – and mother Raita managing a kitchen which very efficiently delivers meals before the gig begins. After enjoying the first course meal, the stage takes over.

The Café listens to the stage, but allows for plenty of talk time before and during the gig intervals when the dessert is served. The patrons have come out to enjoy the eclectic music from ‘Alternative Folk’ in this small venue with no loud, blaring amplification, or need for ear plugs to protect sensitive ears. One’s bring-your-own-bottle of wine on the table, with corkage fee, kept most comfortably warm.

Ronan Skillen on tabla with Jono Tait

Jono has chosen one of South Africa’s top percussionists, Ronan Skillen on tabla and shakes, to present an Eastern flavour to Jono’s own folk guitar. It’s not often a musician presents his intimate health issues on stage, but Jono unabashedly introduced one of his songs which is based on his dealing with depression challenges brought on by his own Bipolar Disorder. The song asks us to learn how to ‘slow down’ from the pressures we face in life. This moving piece leaves the listener quite spellbound at such honesty from a sometimes troubled musician. As a comrade in support, Ronan accompanied his guitarist in style and various rhythms that never overpowered.

The colleagues cracked jokes with each other while tuning up their instruments for the next song, allowing the audience to chime in.  Musicians are known to feel at ease at Alma, often rapping a bit with the audience who return the joviality.

This set the stage for the next half, after a serving of dessert and coffee, as part of the meal offerings. Another ‘alternative folk’ takes over – a lady duo, both illustrious in their musical journeys. Singer/guitarist/educator Nicky Schrire has explored all sorts of musical genre, from her jazz studies at University of Cape Town to contemporary folk, singing her songs about Paris and back home, ‘Love Letter’ about Cape Town.

She and her childhood friend, cellist Ariella Caira, known for her sterling band membership with the all-female string band, Sterling EQ, combine their musical DNA and present soulful and inspirational ballads in expert unison. Their synchronicity reflects their individual journeys around the world, both performing and studying, in the worlds of jazz, classical, folk, and ‘alternative’ sounds in music. Nicky made the point that “love songs have already been taken care of which is why I focus on things, items, and not necessarily ‘love’ “. Her five years living in New York, plus collaborations with a multitude of domestic and international artists, has helped her combine her original jazz exposure with innovative sonic realms touching on a bit of Celtic and folk, embodied in her own compositions as well as interpretations of other’s works, such as the Beatenberg pop song, “Never Let Me Go” and her “Ingrid Yonker Suite” which blends folk, cinematic and art song genres. Also, think Joni Mitchell.

https://youtu.be/V9RiIacH0rc

With a voice that can move from emotion to theatrics, Nicky describes herself as “trained in jazz but a troubadour by choice”. Besides an engaging stage presence, she projects humour, wit, an assertive personality, and storytelling abilities (both verbal and written) that are educative and highly entertaining. Her marketing skills cleverly explore the visual, using for instance the popular Woodstock-based Popsicle Studios’ video productions in Cape Town.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJbm3No_4qA  Even Cape Talk radio’s John Maytham Show produced an interesting podcast discussion with Jono and Nicky about the nature of ‘Alternative Folk’, which also highlighted the types of venues artists prefer to perform in.  http://www.capetalk.co.za/podcasts/144/the-john-maytham-show/235674/alternative-folk-at-the-alma-cafe 

This evening ended with all four ‘Alternatives’ joining their sonic spirits to delight and haunt our understandings about our contemporary music-scape!       https://youtu.be/d9Vs5sP2r3M

While many venues face fluctuations in patronage among cash-strapped fans, an intimate and friendly venue like Alma Café hopes to draw all those daring to venture into different sonic worlds for an affordable evening’s experience, rain or shine. Their listings can be seen on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/The-Alma-Cafe-159089414146612/  

 

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All Jazz Radio nominated for a Mzantsi Jazz Award for the second year

Dear AJR Peeps, Friends, Followers, Fans and supporters.
For the second year running All Jazz Radio has been nominated for a Jazz Award in the Radio Category of the Mzantsi Jazz Awards 2019.

The closing date for voting creeps closer, just 4 more days to cast your vote for us. Just a quick reminder to please kindly cast as many votes as you can for us in the radio category of the Mzantsi Jazz Awards 2019, the details for voting in and outside South African borders are listed below.

Please would you share this with all of your Friends, Family and followers on all social media platforms too.

If living inside the South African border please vote by texting ZaJazz and the All Jazz Radio code BR2 to the number 40439.

Our international listeners and supporters outside South Africa’s boarders can cast their votes for All Jazz Radio in the Radio Category of the Mzantsi Jazz Awards 2019. Please do so by texting ZaJazz BR2 to the number +27741550374

Please note too that all voting closes by 5pm on Saturday 10th August 2019.

Thanks,
The All Jazz Radio Volunteer Broadcast, Web, Blog Writing and Reviewing Team
Carol, Clifford, James, Kari, Jeff, Wolfgang, Andy, Tina, Granville, Rhys, Todd and Eric.

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Percussionist John Hassan Revives the Moses Molelekwa legacy through another Jazz in the Native Yard Experience

In February 2001, the South African music world was shocked suddenly: a young brilliant pianist, Moses Molelekwa, and his manager wife, Flo, were found dead in their central Johannesburg office. The Cape Town fans and musicians held an unforgetable mourning gathering at Good Hope Center to mark this untimely passing of an unusually talented artist at age 27.   Last Sunday, 28 July in 2019, a day after a national public Memorial for another extraordinary Legend, Johnny Clegg, the Cape Town community came together to honour Molelekwa’s legacy, with an added delightful feature of Molelekwa’s son, Zoe, at piano.

Moses Molelekwa – credit Shadley Lombard

The Tribute, conceived by percussionist-composer John Hassan of the South African Afro-Latin band, Hassan’adas, revived appreciation for a notable period in South Africa’s jazz history when young guns moved their artistry through the 1980s apartheid hurtles into the 1990s new political dawn.

John Hassan -Credit T Visagie

Moses was there, fired up by both family supports and the times to ‘find himself’ as his first 1994 album, Finding One’s Self, suggested. At age 22, his mastery and level of maturity with improvisation and technique were shaking heads. By the time he released his second album, Genes and Spirits in 1999, Moses had toured and mentored with other legends, such as Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Cuba’s own Chucho Valdes. Then, dead at age 27.

There will be more to applaud about Moses and his musical legacy when the very tall son Zoe returns to perform in Cape Town next month. His parents’ deaths left 6 year old Zoe to the care of Moses’ musically innovative father, Jerry ‘Bra Monk’, who made sure little grandson Zoe would grow up in the finest of musical traditions through the Moses Molelekwa Foundation, established to provide learning opportunities to young musicians. Remarkable stories abound.

A Jazzy experience before the concert: Traditional beer, beaded watch bands, and books for sale

It needs to be mentioned, again, that events sponsored by Jazz in the Native Yards aim at giving patrons an experience of jazz which which they will marvel at for days/weeks after. Always get to a JiNY concert early . This Moses Molelekwa Tribute concert on Sunday was held at the popular Guga S’Thebe Cultural Center in Langa township, 15 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD.

As you walk into the Center, wall paintings, murals, and a wide range of hand-made beaded and sculptured items meet the eye, splashing colourful artistry that seems authentic and honest. Tables are lined up with these artistic varieties seeking to not just welcome patrons to the musical event, but engage them in tasting, viewing, and maybe even buying some of the enticing offerings coming from the township artisans. This is how ‘the experience” begins: The delectable smell of Waga’s Fries draws one into conversation about how a ‘special’ variety of potato can be turned into a healthy snack; it’s grown as a project at the Cape Town University of Technology Belville campus garden by horticulturalist, Wanga Ncise.

Waga Fries with promoter Wanga Ncise

Taste the fry, slightly brown and crisp, and coated with tasty herbs and bread crumbs, and you’ll see why a potato can be transformed before your very eyes! Snack in hand with this crunchy fry, the eye feast continues through the tables: beautifully beaded watch bands with red watch faces to die for; cloth earrings and jewelry. I liked the traditional beer keg on the second-hand books table! Now that entices one to read, neh?

Finally, entering the open courtyard of Guga with its mural walls and drinks ‘n snacks kiosk beckoning, one finds another table of home–made curry stew with rice and salad. If the weather did not call for sprinkles, more artists’ tables would distract and beckon from this courtyard.

The music starts. Hassan has rightly provided a space for two young musicians to kick off the event: Pianist Nobhule Ashanti and trumpeter Keitumetsi ‘Tumi’ Pheko.

Zoe Molelekwa- credit T Visagie

When 24 year old Zoe sits down at the piano for a few songs, a deafening silence spreads through the audience of some 110 patrons, with photographers slowly inching close to the stage like cautious chameleons to get that careful shot of Zoe’s head hung low over the keys, his dreadlocks obscuring his good looks. His rendition of his father’s classic “Spirit of Thembisa” stayed true to form.

Hassan’s band then explodes into Latin and Molelekwa tunes, with several songs taken from Hassan’s own Afro-Jazz repertoire with Hassan also playing guitar. Stellar musicians make up his band: Lucas Khumalo (bass guitar), Trevino Isaacs (piano), Nathan Carolus (guitar), and the cream of Cape Town’s jazz scene comprising of drummer Kevin Gibson, and saxophonist Buddy Wells (saxophone). Hassan tells how he and Moses were once flatmates in Johannesburg which is why Hassan is passionate about remembering his dear friend’s legacy.

“We are starting with one show in Cape Town and hope to take the show to other provinces in time. The idea is to bring Moses’ son Zoe and musicians from the Moses Molelekwa Foundation to join us in future performances.”

Tributes are usually to the artist in passing, but they allow for the sponsoring promoter, Hassan, to also promote his own music. “The object of this project is to celebrate Moses’ music. It is not a benefit concert but rather a tribute to Moses Molelekwa” says Hassan.

Criticism might be cast as to the balance between a tribute and self-promotion, but Hassan’s contributions and passion certainly got the audience enthused, appreciative, and dancing with his bouncy reggae “Peace and Love”!! He has educated and re-engaged listeners to be aware of the unusual, yet forever resounding sounds of the genes and spirits of Moses Molelekwa, an artistic gift to South Africa’s musical and cultural legacy. Such awareness raising will continue with Zoe Molelekwa’s upcoming tour which will focus more on his father’s music and on Zoe’s own growing library of compositions and favourites. Stay tuned for more on the Molelekwas!

Zoe Molelekwa Trio performs at several venues in Cape Town, hosted by Jazz in the Native Yards (all gigs are R100): 

Wed 28 August:  7.30 pm.  Youngblood, 70-74 Bree Street

Frid 30 August:  7.30 pm.  Alliance Francaise, 155 Loop Street

Sunday 1 September:  4pm.  Guga S’thebe, King Langalibalele Dr, Langa.

Jazz Sessions has scheduled the Masque Theater, Muizenberg, on Sunday, 25 August, 2019, 18:30 hours. Tickets R120. Information: 021-788-1898 or https://www.facebook.com/UllaJazzSessions/

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AJR Nominated for another Mzantsi Jazz Award

It is said that lightening does not strike twice, it seems as if it does. All Jazz Radio has again been nominated for the Mzantsi Jazz Awards in category Best Radio Station Playing Jazz this year.

We need your help and request that you please vote for us. Please share this with all your Friends, Family and Followers their votes are going to help too.
The Voting procedure 2019 is as follows; Vote by texting  “ZaJazz” (without the “”) and the code, BR2 to 40439 & do so often as you can.

Thanks,

The AJR Volunteer Broadcast Team Clifford, James, Kari, Jeff, Wolfgang, Andy, Tina and Granville, Rhys, Todd and Eric.

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Jazz in the Native Yards Brings Joy with Music Coming back to the Capetown ‘Hoods

There’s a slight warmth in this winter air as one enters the outdoor patio where the band is set up, with listeners seated in the garage space looking onto the patio. This is No 52, NY138 named ‘Kwa Sec’ in Gugulethu, a ‘township’ outside of Cape Town center.

Sisonke Xonti sax; Jono Sweetman drums; Shane Cooper bass-credit: T. Visagie

People are buzzing with loud chatter which drowns out the MC with the mic, who is trying to introduce the band and settle the crowd. If one hops quickly inside the house, more buzzing and smell of freshly brewing coffee meets the senses as ‘Thaps’ (Thapelo Mahloane) churns out cappuccinos or hot chocolates at his Kofififee mobile kiosk.  

The eyes wonder onto a bucket of ice at the ‘Wine Shaq’ table which offers a variety of independently produced and distributed wines from the Cape Winelands/Stellenbosch area – always ‘local is lekker’ in attitude and taste, says its wine connoisseur, Nomhle Zondani. Hailing from Langa, Zondani travels the various routes of this promoter based at Kwa Sec, Jazz in the Native Yards, pleasing pallets thirsty for high quality but lesser known wines.

One carefully nurtured wineglass will last through the first set as patrons take their seats. The band numbers five well-seasoned musicians. A hush falls as the gig begins… or rather, the Experience continues…..

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It’s 4 o’clock on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Saxophonist Sisonke Xonti and his illustrious and long time band members, are bringing the music back to the ‘hood’. The Natives are at home! The patrons are also multi-cultural, coming from various demographics of the wider municipality – radio and media journalists, fellow musicians, regular fans, local leaders, and foreigners working in Cape Town.

Credit: Gregory Franz

During the set break, raucous joviality explodes as old friends chat about nothing, or strangers are introduced. Some patrons who announce this is their first visit to Kwa Sec are immediately embraced and coached on why they should come more often. The energy in the space becomes electric. Ubuntu is speaking. There are no barriers here – colour, nationality, profession, status in life – it doesn’t matter. It’s the pumping rhythms in song that brings hearts and spirits together, laughing and just enjoying life and being there.

Ezra & brother Duke Ngcukana 1987-credit: Tony McGregor

Home legends are being acknowledged by this youthful band as it swings into songs of late jazz dons, like Zim Ngqawana and Gugulethu’s own, Ezra Ngcukana. It’s Youth Day in South Africa, June 16, a national holiday celebrating how Black youth uprisings in 1976 against the then apartheid government’s attempts to enforce the teaching of Afrikaans in their schools changed the course of history. But sordid memories seemed subdued amidst the joyous celebration and networking around song and artistry.

JiNY Co-founders: Luvuyo Kakaza (left), Koko Nkalashe (right)-credit: Nikki Froneman

Jazz in the Native Yards, while proudly endorsing the otherwise demeaning apartheid address for township communities resident in ‘NY’ numbered streets, is enthusiastically spreading its philosophy of taking those ‘hood musical styles to other ‘hoods. After all, Cape jazz and South African jazz emanated and developed their unique sounds from many back yards during apartheid restrictions on township residents’ movements. In turn, this provided relief – comic and musical – for both artists and patrons in weathering the debilitating effects of racial, economic, and political separation from the country’s wealth and opportunities.

Jazz in the Native Yards traces its ancestral footprints to the 1960s when impromptu live jazz sessions took place every weekend in Cape Town’s townships and elsewhere. Back then, jazz enthusiasts listened to Joshua Sithole who made the penny whistle famous in kwela jazz, even on street corners of major cities. The Nofemele brothers played The Manhattan Brothers covers with unsurpassed flair. The Ngcukana brothers from Gugulethu performed with their father Mra and the legendary Abdullah Ibrahim, and became a regular feature in the community yards.

Then, a change in access evolved: Post-apartheid jazz clubs moved more to town centers, requiring enthusiasts to leave their home areas, and find often expensive means of transport to evening events which also charged fees higher than what true jazz fans from marginalised communities could afford. This restrictive gap in access to the quality legendary music has now been revealed: many arts and culture promoters no longer wish to dominate live jazz through another form of exclusionary, middle class opportunity to hear quality music.

Patrons at Kwa Sec Sisonke Xonti gig-credit: T Visagie

Ironically, as these town ‘clubs’ started closing down for various management and financial reasons in the past 10 years, the call from communities became loud and clear: ‘We want the music here, with us!” Thus, live jazz started brewing again in Native Yards and communities throughout Cape Town’s metropolis; in restaurants, in a bakery, at an artisan ginnery and beer brewery, at cultural centers , like Langa’s Guga S’Thebe, and even in musicians’ homes. Those opportunities to preserve the proven legacies of jazz giants like Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Robbie Jansen and Cups Nkanuka, were taking hold, partly thanks to appreciative and discerning younger musicians who saw value and integrity in preserving musical histories. These well-trained musicians also wanted live platforms to strut their stuff.

In contemporary times, Jazz in the Native Yards seeks to avoid a downward spiral caused by gangsterism, drug peddling and alcoholism. One answer is to groom human creativity, especially among the youth from marginalised communities. Its projects were born in 2015 and JiNY developed a social movement that encourages the use of live jazz performances as platforms for diverse musical voices to be heard and seen. Young and older musicians can ‘meet and greet’ each other on these platforms.

Bongani Shotsoananda at Kwa Sec- Oct 2018

For instance, Marimba specialist, Bongani Shotsoananda (from Nyanga) and trumpeter Blacki Tempi (from Gugulethu), often come to afternoon concerts at the homey ‘Kwa Sec’ house where weekend gigs feature a variety of South African and international bands.

Another legendary jazz pianist, Tete Mbambisa, and Langa singer Ncediwe Sylvia Mdunyelwa, pop in to see what the younger ones are doing. Koko Nkalashe, YiNY’s co-founder, says, “Thanks to ConcertSA we have also managed to bring more established musicians to our stages and the mix with overseas traveling musicians creates a beautiful mix of musical stories.”

Koko Nkalashe

It’s about ‘Experience’, says Nkalashe. “We want to create spaces and opportunities for more social cohesion for Western Cape residents, a positive ambiance of backyard performance venues for residents and visitors alike to get to know and understand South Africa’s diversity, rather than just focus on its marginalised communities. “ These spaces, safe but simple, grow paying audiences who thereby offer opportunities whereby artists can actually earn an income rather than rely on free or sponsored concerts.

So where does one ‘catch’ these audiences?

JiNY has ‘Routes’: musicians can perform at cultural centers and NGO spaces which have sizeable data bases of patrons, and at festivals, like the annual Stellenbosch Woordfeest as part of the musical program; then a Sunday afternoon at the Delheim Wine Estate pulling in residents from Franschoek and surroundings; then continue on to the Khaylitsha’s Isivivana Center, an NGO space ; then on to Mitchells Plain Alliance Francaise Cultural Center (still in progress). That’s the ‘Eastern Route’. Patrons and fans who live along the way can catch quality performances and be able to afford paying for the experience.

The ‘Central Route’ comprises of Gugulethu’s Kwa Sec for smaller crowds; then to Nyanga Arts Center (still in progress) which receives supports from the Belgium government….. then on to Langa’s Guga S’Thebe Cultural Center for larger crowds, and continue on to the Alliance Francaise in central Cape Town CBD or to an arts and culture gallery on Bree Street.

All of these routes seek to “cook up the vibe”: engage the moneyed class, suburbia folk and tourists, and the less economically endowed residents in experiencing together the fruits of musical achievements of the younger and older legends coming from these communities. Adding to the Experience are people’s video snippets on social media, selfies with musicians, and other pictorial stories which show patrons’ excitement. Clinking wine glasses, rattling coffee cups, audience members dancing, and an inside fire roaring to keyboard runs – people experience joyful fun and amusement in the vibey arena. And when the experience is good, you sure will want to return and find your new-found friends at the next gig….and on and on it goes. Socializing, appreciating, learning, seeing, asking questions, understanding, liking, tasting, telling others – the experiences expand.

Performing in ‘Native Yards’ does not benefit just local musicians and local patrons. Word spreads, rippling through social media, radio, print media outlets, and country Embassies. When South African musicians work on projects overseas, namely in Europe, international visitors, musicians, and music business promoters hear about the ‘hood happenings, and know where to go. Fundors like ConcertsSA, the Italian Consulate, Swiss promoters like ProHelvetia, and others, enable music students and their teachers to collaborate and spread music in the ‘Hoods.

Indeed, the Legends listen from their ancestral heights in pure delight! The ‘hoods are back!!

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Singer Florence Chitacumbi /Percussionist Mino Cinelu cause sonic bangs in Cape Town

They flew in and wowed the crowd at Langa’s Guga S’Thebe Cultural Center with their authentic fusion of African, Creole, Euro-pop, and Afro-soul . Sitting on his box drum, renowned French percussionist Mino Cinelu rattled his various arsenal of sonic weapons, standing and emoting over his hand-held triangle when he wasn’t furiously tapping out a myriad of beats on his 25 year old plus wave drum.

Mino Cinelu at Langa, Guga S’Thebe: credit Terence Visagie

 

Florence Chitacumbi at Guga S’Thebe,Langa: credit Terence Visagie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeper of melodies, Swiss-Angolan singer Florence Chitacumbi, and leader of this Reunion Tour in Southern Africa, added soulful and jazzy tunes which come from several of her albums with Cinelu. This duo, along with the versatile Swiss Guitarist Christophe Bovet, were ‘encountering the other’ as they shared their musicality with South African and Lesotho audiences during their intensive one week tour to conclude a dazzling International Jazz Month of April.  Multiple thanks go to local organizers, Jazz in the Native Yards and the South African Association for Jazz Education (SAJE), for these April performances. 

Credit: T. Visagie

The last concert on May 4 was properly framed in Cape Town’s beautiful Peninsula suburb of Kalk Bay which reaches another local area known for its artistry, Navy home, and calm waters facing a circle of mountains. Again, the Olympia Bakery shoved its machines to the side and made concert room for the trio, this time with an additional two South African guests: jazz pianist Nduduzo Makhatini based in Port Elizabeth; the other, Cape Town’s own legend, accordion/traditional bow/guitarist Tony Cedras who worked with percussionist Cinelu back in those 1980s New York City days. Another story!   The beauty of spontaneity in the moment meant that Cinelu could invite Cedras to the reunion at the last minute.

Tony Cedras

Both South Africans added flavour and transformed the Chitacumbi/Cinelu Afro and Creole rhythms with their own jazz subtleties, the likes of Bheki Mseleku, Nina Simone, and a host of others.

The colourful, sold-out concert saw people still inching into the venue, even sitting on the piled up flour bags ready for use by the Bakery the next day.

Chitacumbi, who led the band, boasted a wide repertoire of music, thanks to Cinelu’s rhythms that included Congolese soukous, Portuguese Fado (folk music) , West African influences, funk, blues, and jazz Standards. She has toured with a host of notables and cut three albums featuring well-known African and European artists seeking to build those sonic bridges between the two continents. But it was former Weather Report’s (and Miles Davis, and Sting) master percussionist, Paris-born Mino Cinelu, whom the whistling audience eyed non-stop. Cinelu was also reuniting with his old pal, Tony Cedras, known for his exiled days in New York arranging songs and touring with Paul Simon’s Graceland album. This visiting duo maintained an exciting and vibrant stage presence right to the standing applause end.

Thanks go to the people involved in promoting/producing and sponsoring this concert, namely Arte Viva Management, Slow Life Music Promotion, Pro Helvetia, Ville de Neuchatel in Switzerland, Foundation SUISA, and Loterie Romande without whom the show and its success would not have been guaranteed.

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Several histories were revealed in my interview (CM) with Florence Chitacumbi (FC) and Mino Cinelu (MC). Both have fathers from Africa or the Diaspora, and both were raised in Francophone/European cultures which explains Cinelu’s love for the Fado folk music of Portugal where his grandmother’s roots lay. Also, his interesting explanation on why the drum and percussion reigned more in Francophone Africa/Diaspora – read more below:

CM: Tell me how you guys linked up as a duo, since you both had lots of experience with other bands and tours over the decades.
FC: Yes, I had a band while living in Paris and I gradually felt there was still something missing. I knew Mino and liked his musical approach and rhythms, so I called him. We started collaborating in 2005 and we produced and album, Regard Croises.
MC: I’ve performed with many artists so feel at ease in both seats – with duos and larger collaborations. I just try to keep an open mind when meeting a new collaboration. And now Florence and I have a duo project that we were looking for.

CM: With South African jazz, what is so different to you personally compared to other African influences, such as the music of Francophone northern Africa?
FC: In Senegal, you find a lot of percussion or guitar, and in Cameroun, you find a good bass player, but not so much the piano or saxophone. But here [South Africa] , there’s a jazz tradition which mixes American jazz with their own sounds – the rhythm , the patterns, the scales, and different types of melody.
MC: Also, as you go north from here, there was less of the English influence which had strict rules about the use of the drum, but the French ex-colonial areas of central and west Africa allowed for the indigenous beats and rhythms and harmonies of those singers . In South Africa, the Africans under colonialism found a way to preserve their music, for example, in the boot dance of the miners. The same in Trinidad under the English when the people developed the steel pan and rhythms to go with it. So in the ex-British areas, the drums are not that well developed but there’s something else. So the non ex-English areas were allowed to develop the drums, and the singing, and other expressions.
FC: I find South African jazz really inspiring; they have something special – the melody, the styles of Bheki Mseleku, and Hugh Masakela… I saw Mkize and Washington’s gig in Langa yesterday, and I like the way they play that scale… it’s unique to South African jazz here.

CM: ….then you get to the Western Cape with the ghoema, and the Malay rhythms, and the Khoi instruments. … I wish the South African students could hear you, perhaps on your next tour here….
FC: It seems that maybe they are afraid of knowing their culture and roots….
CM: There is a trauma…. A psychological stress and anti-colonial phase students are going through presently, often not well understood by them. Whereas, African countries have been independent for long…
MC: People find a way to eventually express themselves…..

CM: You both have lots of African influences in your musical approaches, but you haven’t experienced much collaboration with Africans as such on the African continent, I mean in terms of performances. Why is that?
MC: You can hear in my first album many songs from Ivory Coast and Senegal. You have the talking drum, and the udu from Nigeria – I was the first to bring this instrument into rock music in Europe. I was music director for Saif Khaita, and was the drummer with Chris McGregor in Paris where I also met Dudu Pukoane.
FC: I was in Burkino Faso and Senegal, and last year I was at Jazz a Ouaga in Burkino Faso. Then we came here to South Africa last year….
MC: After touring with Sting, I just took the first plane out of New York, and spent one and a half months in Senegal and played with the drummers every Sunday. Just jamming. There was no TV at the time, or Internet…. I also went to the Ivory Coast to see the top guys there, and we started to jam a lot…

CM: We are more global and digital now so we don’t always have to be physically ‘there’ to collaborate. Yet you are doing a ‘reconnection tour’, not just with yourselves, but as you said in another interview, you (to FC) want to “encounter the other”. So, this means you want to be there physically, right?
FC: Yeah, one can’t stay in their comfort zone in home areas all the time. But when I say ‘meet the other’, I also mean to bring one’s own music to another audience, or another culture. We need to make the unknown interesting. When I meet up and work with Nduduzo [Makhatini] , I look forward to sharing our music with him.

CM: Why have you chosen Nduduzo? Of all the South African artists…
FC: I had met several artists, of course, like Zenzile Makeba. Then, last year I began talking on Facebook with Nduduzo and watching his page, and that’s when I contacted him about collaborating. I also know Afrika Mkhize very well… Then in 2004, I had contacted Darius Brubeck…

CM: Let’s talk about your audiences. What did you think of the audience yesterday [in Langa]? Their reaction was so different between your performance and Mkhize’s. You are perhaps used to revving up European and American audiences. What did you feel was different with the Langa crowd?
MC: Nice. People came out. It was good. People share the same passion and they were very thankful that we came. We don’t take that lightly or for granted. That humbles us. They were really listening and hearing something different. I like that. They didn’t want to miss anything. Our band was different to what they hear – we had no bass or piano, just a guitar, singer, and beat. In ours, there’s no safety net, no frills, just acoustic….

CM: [To MC] There are so many sounds from your percussion toys…. Back in the days of Miles Davis, the technology was different from now with a range of electronica…particularly the wave drum….Any comments?
MC: My wave drum is over 25 years old. I wish they still made this model, because the newer one is smaller and doesn’t fit my style as well. Zawinul [of Weather Report] asked me to join his new project and I was happy to be able to play with Weather Report, and to play with drummer Omar Hakim before the group broke up. Also, I have to rent my percussion instruments when I travel. I’ve got some made of wood – hard to find – to give that sound – like the shoe clogs people used to wear in Holland, or the stomping on wooden floors of verandas in old houses in the American South.

CM: Often, visiting musicians are flown in and out again, giving little time for making important connections with local artists and cultures. How could this be improved so that you are given time to workshop with students and others, and share your skills?
MC: It’s often the case. Promoters don’t realize that the hardest part for a musician is not the playing, but the traveling. Sometimes my conferences take a long time, and I go very deep in the discussions. This is all tiring. You have to open to people and cultures you’re visiting. I like to immerse myself into others’ cultures as much as possible when I’m visiting a place. We have to share our music with musicians we visit. This takes time.
FC: Definitely. At home in Switzerland, I teach at a music school in Geneva called ETM which is part of the government program – students can choose music as a subject with ETM . We also have a professional section for 3 years. Students study a 1st and 2nd instrument.
MC: I mostly have private students. I’d like to do more masterclasses in different countries, but I just don’t have the time. A dear friend of mine, Tony Gray, a bassist who is nephew of John McLauglin, and I are working on a collaboration to do a video program so I can share that as much as possible.

Catch both artists on a number of YouTube videos!

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Jazz Singer Ziza Muftic dazzles in her “Shining Hour” album and Life

Croatian-born Ziza Muftic stepped into an ambitious musical journey in South Africa when her parents migrated from a war-torn Croatia in 1992. It was terribly cold in Johannesburg that August, as she left her teenage sandals behind in the summery North. Her academic and professional success as a jazz vocalist confirms her gutsy approach to creativity, as she explored what she felt was still missing in her own Balkan musicality: a South African musical expression. Subsequently, she has performed with some of South Africa’s top Jazz musicians like Johnny Fourie, Reza Khota, and Marcus Wyatt. She was also asked to sing a finalist piece at the SAMRO 2018 composer’s finals, where the composition won in category.

Muftic is now feeling her shining hour. Shining Hour (2019) is her second album, entitled from songwriter, Jonny Mercer’s ‘My Shining Hour’ song of hope and high expectations, and follows on her first album, Silver Moonbeams (2015), with its Balkan rhythms, lyrics, and melodies. Her stories shine in delightfully pleasing and thoughtful ways as she handpicks from known songs and her own compositions.

She adds the spoken word to such standards as Bheki Mseleku’s ‘Homeboyz’ and the Beattles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’ which continues in a sullen mood started by the opening Mseleku piece. Her low voice register breathes a kind of soft whimsical lullaby sound with inflections from her able band members that make this jazz album enticing and moving. She says on her album cover: “Music and thoughts collected on a journey from Bosnia and Croatia to South Africa. These tunes found this band and have become a part of our standard repertoire.”

Muftic searches with questions put to English lyrics: in the moody, sometimes sassy ‘what’s the colour of my Heart’, and in how ‘Love is the Drug’ tells about something familiar and is skilfully supported by Sydney Mnisi’s wailing tenor saxophone and pianist Roland Moses’s runs. Then, inventive mixes of Croatian lyrics and Balkan-style vocals with a South African context in ‘Kwela/Gontsana (Milena)’ reveals hints about the next song, ‘Unfinished Story’, where drummer Peter Auret holds a steady fast beat while Muftic scats her unfinished story. It seems clear how Muftic’s interest and research into Balkan styles are transposed with South African ethnomusicality, a theme she is pursuing presently.

Her skills in arranging come through interpretations of the Latin swing, as in the popular Corea/Jobim ‘Chega de Saudade’, and in her own composition, ‘Blue’, influenced by Pat Metheny, which has Mnisi’s flute solo querying Muftic’s unending searching and wondering.

The album ends with an inventive taster for what’s to come in the future: ‘Bosnian Flute Jam’ is just that, Balkan dance mixed with South African marabi rhythms. With a cross over voice the likes of a Carmen McCrea and Balkan mixes which would excite the Bombshelter Beast’s mixed bag, Shining Hour guarantees to hold the listener ‘s heart and ears in a tight embrace.


An interview with Muftic explains herself:

CM: You have absorbed so much of the South African experience, from being a teenage immigrant who quickly adapted to the local artistry back in the 1990s.
ZM: As I grew in this country, I realized that I had much more similarity with the way of living of Black people in townships than the squeaky clean middle class –both black and white – that live in the suburbs of JoBurg . This thing of community living, of not locking your door, and going next door to your neighbour if you needed some salt – we used to live like that in Croatia. There, we lived in flats with only one key, and my neighbour was always in my lounge. But now in JHB, we have several keys which we are always having to sort out which is for what……and there’s an alarm button, and a code for a lock, just to get into your own house! It’s like phases, you know…..

CM: You came to South Africa after your matric in Croatia, right? And was able to study music right away here. How did you manage with English?
FM: I had music credentials from my Croatian high school and a respected music school in Zagreb called Vatroslav Lisinski, and studied under one of Croatia’s well known divas, Lidija Horvat. It was then that I won a third place at a singing competition amongst young singers from all over Croatia. So when I arrived in JoBurg, I could enter university here right away. It was hard as I had to learn English just from living, so I just learned as I went along. I completed my BA in Music in 1996 focusing on Classical Vocal studies, and my Masters in Music in 2013, both degrees from Wits University. My Masters was in Performance and Research. My two recitals were late classical to contemporary, a program which covered music from Stravinsky to Django.

CM: You seem to enjoy mixing your Balkan musical heritage with the South African sounds. Can you tell me more? Particularly about that last song ‘Bosnian Flute Jam’ on your album.
FM: FM: I started the ‘mixing’ during my Masters studies. It was then that I picked up a well known Bosnian folk tune, ‘Ne klepeci nanulama’. Everybody knows that song in the ex- Yugoslav countries and everyone in my family sings it well. I added to it a standard South African jazz progression, and you know, long before I performed that song, I would just sit and cry in my studio. Because there was this soul thing I found with South African jazz, it filled something in me that I was missing from my Croatian side. So I put the Bosnian flute jam at the end of this album as a signal of what was brewing inside me and what will come next in future albums.

CM: You wrote your Masters thesis about Balkan music in South African music. Explain more.
FM: I used to go to Balkanology parties in JoBurg ages ago, where I heard this music that sounded like something from home. I was completely bewildered hearing this in Newtown in JoBurg , and found two DJs from Capetown!! So I chatted to the people that I was trying to find a theme for my research, so I just went back to that. There was no ‘soul’ connection as such, but there was definitely something like a ‘fun’ thing in these parties, and their dance was fun. It reminded me of these raucous weddings you’d see in the villages back home in Bosnia and Serbia with that familiar um pah n pah n pah. So going to these parties helped me decide about what I could write for my thesis.

CM: So how did you conduct this research from the parties?
FM: My Professors were so keen to do research on this because there is so little written about Popular music in South Africa (academic writing in particular). So I focused my ethnographic research on these parties. I took two different parties where you dress up in costumes and then dance to this crazy music of that period around the time of the war. The whole thing was actually a movement. So right about the time of the war, there were a lot of immigrants to – it started in Germany, I think. They displayed this nostalgia thing where they started playing a Romani music and a kind of Serbian cheezy pop that you would hear at 4 o’clock in the morning from people who were drunk-drunk from the wedding parties. So it became like a trend, you know. And then ‘Borat’ came out – you know with that Sacha Baron Cohen actor and his character from Eastern Europe who is a bit naïve. So I had these influences growing up. Then there was the film, The Underground , that turned the eyes of the world towards our country and culture, some of it ridiculing how naïve people from the village seemed as they carried themselves awkwardly into the city or whatever. You know how it is when people from the Western world will always look for something new to spice up this doof doof doof they have in clubs.

CM: What do you mean? You mean how the Bombshelter Beast emerged as a popular band…..
FM: What Marcus [Wyatt] has done is genius because that sound is Joburg right now, if you had the energy and it wasn’t so dangerous to walk around , like in Braamfontein, to absorb all the sounds . I enjoyed going to the Bombshelter beast gigs because of the experience …I mean every time I go to his gig [Bombshelter Beast] and hear that guy that raps in Sisotho and isiXhosa and other languages, and the girls that rap, and then there’s the umpah umpah umpah that comes out of the songs, and the band all running around in those onesies…..

CM: Yes, they are quite entertaining. So what was your thesis title?
MF: It is entitled, “Hopa!: Exploring Balkanology in South African Popular music culture”.

CM: Let’s talk about your voice. You’ve got a pleasing timber and register in your voice. Who has influenced you in your voice production?
ZM: I don’t listen to vocalists that much, but when I do, I examine things like sound and breath, and how they blend into music and how they phrase. Often, I get disappointed because the singers tend to over-sing those things, you know, instead of really interpreting the phrasing that is what the music is about. I find beautiful voices that aren’t doing enough with the music, and then I get a little bit bored. Today, take someone like Cecile McLorin Salvant, and the technique and the colour she has and the attention to the music – you don’t always get these details today in musicians. So when I listen to my own recordings, and I see there’s a little too much there, too much excitement, then …. But I would say people like Billy Holiday, Joni Mitchell , Janis Joplin, and Carmen McCrea are some of my favourites.


Ziza has performed with some of South Africa’s top Jazz musicians like Johnny Fourie, Reza Khota, and Marcus Wyatt. She was also asked to sing a finalist piece at the SAMRO 2018 composer’s finals, where the composition won in category. See the YouTube promotion of Shining Hour:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ud0QSNZkdW4&feature=share

The album features: Sydney Mnisi on tenor saxophone and flutes;  Roland Moses on piano;  Peter Sklair on electric bass; and Peter Auret on drums

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“My Miriam Makeba Story” Resonates a Language of Truth for Simangele Mashazi’s own life story

This is a story, a collage of charming impressions about Miriam Makeba’s own life in song and politics-in-exile which have resonated with the young singer and song writer Simangele Mashazi’s own life journey, particularly after 1994 when Makeba could return to South Africa.

Simangele Mashazi

‘Sima’, raised in Newcastle, KZN, learned her vocals and groomed her  talents firstly during her church choir years with strong gospel roots.  She followed up with private classical vocal training sessions, but only studied music in a Ministry school when she moved to Stellenbosch. After experience on stage providing backing vocals to South African and European artists during European tours, her breakthrough came when casted to play the then late Miriam Makeba in the popular musical Mama Africa, a collaboration between the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the University of Missouri (USA).  A stage career was developing.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – JANUARY 17: Miriam Makeba, January 17, 2008 at Palau de la Musica, credit Jordi Vidal/Redferns

The bug had bitten her: Sima became inspired, if not spellbound, by the wealth of talents and history Makeba passed down, and in particular, how Makeba spoke truth through her lyrics. However, in 2017, Sima chose to leave the cast to pursue teaching and further studies at Stellenbosch University in Linguistics.  But this hasn’t stopped her musicality. She delved into replicating that truth-through-lyrics by starting to compose My Story which introduces her as a songwriter and storyteller.  It also enabled her to write her own songs which are performed in the show: ‘Bashadile ‘ (Zulu for “They are married”) and ‘Still Miss You’, along with other known gems like ‘Phatha Phatha’, to lesser known popular songs, like ‘Suliram’, an Indonesian lullaby. For ‘Bashadile’, Sima says she was inspired by a childhood game where children would all stand in a circle, and then children in the centre would pick a partner to “marry”. “The ones left in the circle would then sing ‘Kusele mina ngedwa nje’, which means ‘I am the only one left, “Bonke bashadile” – they are all married.” The song wants to take you on a journey and let you fall in love with life.

Her backing band excels as one of the Cape’s most popular jazz bands, made up of Ramon Alexander on piano, Annemie Nel on drums, Bradley Prince on guitars, Chadleigh Gower on bass, and Muneeb Hermans on trumpet. Some might query why she chose a Cape jazz band, even though highly successful on the local scene, but which is ethnically removed from the type of music Makeba wrote.

Sima and Ramon with KKNK 2019 Award

Sima had known the band-leader and pianist, composer, and producer Ramon Alexander, also living in Stellenbosch, for some ten years, and experienced not only mentorship from him, but the band’s versatility with genres of music. Together with Ramon, Sima could comfortably mastermind her next passion: to produce her own show, ‘My Miriam Makeba Story’, about Makeba but from her own perspective. It worked. Both she and Alexander received the award for Best Music Production at the recent 2019 Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK).

Preparing the show became essentially a learning journey for this stage-seasoned singer about an icon’s struggle with politics and life, in general. As a student of Linguistics, Sima had learned in Mama Africa how language is a symbol of power, and how Makeba in exile spoke truth to power. In this regard, Sima’s humour and engagement with the audience started early in her performance, when she asked what was the name of the song she had just sung (the ‘click song’). Soft clucking sounds buzzed around the Artscape’s sound-perfect auditorium, imitating click sounds found particularly in isiXhosa. It seemed so natural; this was an African audience who understood these linguistic dynamics, at least functionally, and why Makeba sung the ‘click song’ to European audiences while she was in exile. Sima’s background in Linguistics enabled her to point out the differences between her isiZulu clicks and isiXhosa ones, making this aspect of her presentation quite entertaining. The music became a background to her story, however.

“We must re-imagine a multi language society and view multi-lingualism as a norm in South Africa,” Sima emphatically stated in our interview. ”Ideologies are attached to language which is why I’m eager to study Linguistics and understand the power of language for social change. This is why I liked the way Makeba spoke her truth. I can do also. She used her voice to instigate social change.”

For example, during her performance, Sima did not shy away from the pain of loss which Makeba had experienced, the latter unable to visit her dying mother because apartheid barriers would not allow Makeba to return to South Africa from exile. Sima had also suffered loss, of her two sisters, and was inspired to sing her own tribute song to that, honestly and reflectively. Also, in keeping with the themes of carrying the South African ‘sound’ to world corners, she honoured the renowned Capetownian musician, Tony Cedras, (who had sculptured and arranged Paul Simon’s songs before and during their Gracelands album tour) and his efforts to spread the Cape musical histories far and wide.

Sima says she’s not a social activist per se, or a jazz artist, but she believes in the power of the message and entertaining through musical stories. Audiences won’t find intricate musicality and technique in My Story, but a melodic voice well controlled, at times spicy, and one that can emote and engage feeling about her sonic journey. Be prepared to have an intimate evening of relaxing moods tainted with a storytelling charm.

On 11 June, 2019, the show will run at the Fynarts Festival in Hermanus  http://www.hermanusfynarts.co.za; in Pretoria at the Pierneef Teater on 13 July and in Johannesburg at the Foxwood House & Theatre) on 14 July. In September, the show will run at the Aardklop National Arts Festival in Potchefstroom.

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April International Jazz Month brings Cape Town Jazz Mania, festivals and marathon hysteria

Is there festival fatigue?

Cape Town became festival city as the month of April, worldwide set as ‘International Jazz Month’, wound its way around major holiday periods of Easter, South Africa’s Freedom Day, and May Day celebrations. It started with the annual popular and globally applauded Cape Town International Jazz Festival at end March which brought in a myriad of talents and music genres, including exploring jazz styles outside of the conservative mainstream box. Then the Marathons – for bicyclers and runners – through the beauties of the Cape Peninsula terrain. The announcement that UNESCO has designated Cape Town as the site for next year’s ‘Global International Jazz Day 2020’ events brought awe to key stakeholders who were invited to start thinking about their events, alongside empathetic supports (but no money, yet) from the South African Department of Arts and Culture and Department of Tourism.   The 2020 Global Host City event theme befittingly applies to an African city like Cape Town:  “Tracing the Roots and Routes of African Jazz.”

But it was this past week in April: Cape Town, which is fast becoming a traffic jammed, stadium-attired, marathon- mania hub on Africa’s culturally rich continent, exploded with jazz talents: some international, some returnees, some surprises, and many stalwart locals who hold the jazz fort . The main issue at stake, in order to please and cater to the varieties of music lovers, is getting the live performance schedules out into the public awareness so that lovers can choose. Other than social media platforms used by artists and their promoters alike, the Cape Town Jazz Gig Guide https://www.facebook.com/capetownjazzgigguide/   tells pretty much what’s happening in and around town. The caveat is that artists and promoters must send in their listings for publication….. but many simply do not. Scheduled clashes occurred, especially when the annual South African Association for Jazz Education (SAJE) Jazz Festival was scheduled way in advance – for scholars and public alike. Stunning lineups happened; but with shockingly poor turnouts. Has Mania turned to Burn Out of public ears and wallet pockets, one wonder? Or was it the venue….at a Boy’s High School which some might think underrates the quality of the artists presenting, or…..?

Who’s On Top?

Promoters such as Jazz in the Native Yards (JiNY), Slow Life, Iluminar Productions, Arte Viva Management, SAJE, small schools of music, venue presenters, and radio presenters on community and internet stations, such as Bush Radio, Fine Music Radio, All Jazz Radio, and MetroFM, and many others, all have vested and honest sympathies to ‘spread the music’ to the wide varieties of patrons in this growing city and globally. Everyone is in the same boat, scrounging around for funding and venues; there’s no hierarchy amongst us; we all must work together! But sometimes, artists ‘pop up’ in our midst, at the last minute, without proper forewarning or marketing, for whatever reasons.

It makes sense that Artists in town for, let’s say one week, are slotted into various venues over the time period to avoid date clashes. A case in point was a gig at The Alma Café, centrally located in Rondebosch and popular for presenting a variety of live music through the week. Thursdays host its jazz night. The scheduled band of Muneem Hermans generously accommodated, at the last minute, a visiting artist, singer Ziza Muftic and her two other musicians, as it added uniqueness to hear this remarkable Johannesburg-based Croatian singer and South African-schooled artist launch songs from her just-released album, Shining Hour. That is a true collaboration in giving space —but where was the audience for this very worthy double-bill?

What Jazz lovers might have missed….

SAJE’s annual festival kicked off at the Reeler Theatre, a centrally located pleasantly acoustic space at the Rondebosch Boys High School, with a fantastic evening double-bill of musicians who would normally draw large crowds both domestically and overseas.

The Paul Hanmer (piano) and McCoy Mrubata (saxophones), both originally from Cape Town, are celebrating their 30+ years of friendship and jazz.
Seems hardly fair to enjoy only 1 hour of their vast repertoire, but their workshop interview about their brotherhood in jazz the following day tantalized one to run out and listen to their songs, at least digitally.

The Friday double-bill then featured a more international set of visiting Italian saxophonist, Emanuele Cisi, performing with Capetown-based Dutch bassist, Hein van de Geyn, and local wizards, David Leadbetter on piano, and Jono Sweetman, all expertly following Cisi’s own compositions, with a few Standards thrown in. How powerful is that for quality jazz? The patronage turnout was shockingly dismal.

Saturday evening at Reeler found music lovers swooning to some popular jazz Standards performed by the American duo of Darius Brubeck (piano) and Mike Rossi (saxophone). But it was that last song which Brubeck eloquently introduced: when he and the legend, Winston Mankunku, played in Durban in the 1980s during apartheid years, Mankunku chose to play the African-American spiritual song, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”, a commentary on what he, himself, was living through, his musicality cut off by discriminating elements of the day. Brubeck was remembering.

Afrika Mkhize & Salim Washington at Reeler

Their moving tributes were followed by a higher tempo of saxophonist Salim Washington’s Quartet which swung into zesty South African tunes and highly emotional piano chordal flings of the otherwise shy Afrika Mkhize, himself a popular subject for the portrait photographers. Since the day, 27 April, celebrated Freedom Day in South Africa, it was appropriate to play Eddie Harris’s “Freedom Jazz Dance” with spoken word reminders by Washington that Freedom has to reign amongst all.

A Township Venue Comes Alive

This concert was one fine example of collaboration between SAJE and the JiNY who handled the Washington Quartet’s travel arrangements to the Jazz Festival as well as offered one of its venues.  They performed again on Sunday afternoon, the last day of the SAJE Jazz Festival, their sounds resounding with an eager foot-stomping, whistling and whooing crowd of enthusiasts at the popular Guga S’Thebe Cultural Center in Cape Town’s oldest Township of Langa.

Florence Chitacumbi & Mino Cinelu: credit Terence Visagie

Rhythms sang throughout this packed hall, starting with the Afro-European group led by vocalist Florence Chitacumbi, with her percussionist supreme, Mino Cinelu, excelling on his wave drum, and French guitarist, Christophe Bovet. That double-bill requires its own separate entry, including this writer’s interview with Chitacumbi and Cinelu to follow. The afternoon went into evening, closing after 7pm with the Washington/Mkhize band rapturing the crowd for two sets. Happy patrons wobbled home exhausted, imbibed with such unique fanfare of sounds of that day.

One wonders if afternoon performances bring more patrons closer to jazz than evening concerts. It’s a mystery. Yet Saturday evening, May 4, sees Chitacumbi’s trio perform with South African pianist, Nduduzo Makhatini, at Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay thanks to another willing collaborator, Slow Life. One expects there will be a full house of locals stalking these different Afro-soul and rhythmically gifted musicians to wallow in their eclectic mix of African jazz. Tickets at quicket.co.za for Saturday, May 4, 2019; 8pm or contact 082-892-0350 (Paul Kahanowitz).

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Jazz Trumpeter Keyon Harrold talks Black experience at CTIJF 2019

Two American artists of notoriety drew audiences wanting diversity, style, and message in the music. Both spoke to the Black condition in contemporary American society; one wooed the younger fans with his pizzaz which elegantly matched their heartthrobbing outbursts of “Cory, I love you!”  The other musician hailed from Ferguson’s steaming racial struggles. 

Briefly, a major draw card for the festival was New Yorker organist/rapper Cory Henry who ignited a packed-full Masterclass room of some 500 loving youthful fans, whistling and wooing in awe when Henry breathed one word or played one chord. Then complete utter silence when he opened his mouth to speak. Henry wanted to chat with this audience, and rightly so. His kinetic energy prevailed. We heard only one song performed at the end. But he made us all feel young again with his youth appeal, his experimental musical audacity on the organ, and his friendly acceptance of all. No attitude in this vibrant man!!  But he then disappeared….from press interviews. 

Keyon Harrold March 2019

Trumpeter Keyon Harrold, another jazz-hip hop cross-over draw card performed at the same time as Henry, both closing the 2nd day of the Festival in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Not only did Henry not show up for his press conference and scheduled one-on-one interview with me, but I missed his performance. A downer for this writer, indeed! But I had to choose. And choose I did…..

Keyon Harrold – one of 16 siblings, a brother drummer with Gregory Porter, a policeman grandfather who worked young Keyon into music education projects with hundreds of others, a policeman father who carried forward this young talent, to calm and educate the Black kids who were viewed as potential threats to the ‘established order’ of urban St. Louis and Ferguson – rose in ranks with such positive backing amidst horrors of being a Black male in middle America……

I interviewed and watched the performance of this soft spoken trumpeter, who hails from the civil strife in his home town of Ferguson, Missouri, known for its extensive police brutality. Coming from a musical family, Harrold has articulated his stance against injustice with truthfulness. His unadulterated views on police brutality (followed by questionable judiciary proceedings) towards African Americans and other Blacks from the Diaspora, shone through a surprising musical gentility during his performance. Harrold is humble, yet savvy with the ‘celebrity’ world, having befriended and doubled with actor Don Cheatle in the memorable (Hollywood) film, Miles Ahead, about jazz trumpeter, Miles Davis. Harrold played the music; Cheatle mimicked on camera.

During his performance on the Moses Molelekwa stage late Saturday night, Harrold’s melodies and songs, backed by a stellar set of musicians including pianist Gerald Clayton (no stranger to Capetown stages), produced both memory and emotion: some wailing, joyful runs, pensive and sometimes mournful moods from bassist Burniss Travis, and other mixes of improvisation, rock and blues.

Gerald Clayton

His opening song set the mood for honouring memory: his mother’s voice message left on his phone applauding him for being strong in the struggle led into a soft blues ballad remembering her; she had passed on in December 2018. But when popular rapper Pharoahe Monch came on stage towards the end of Harrold’s moving episodes from his album, Mugician, the audience was set alight. The hip hop rap pounded on serious themes of injustice, warnings, and call for unity. The fans were on their feet, many seeming to know the rapper better than Harrold himself.

Pharoahe Monch

Harrold’s press conference revealed his experience and knowledge of the truth behind what it’s like to live, learn, and walk as a Black man in American cities. When asked about his social activism, he replied, “When I’m moved by something, I must write about it…. That’s my calling.”

When asked by Cheatle and producer Robert Glasper to play Miles Davis (who also grew up in St. Louis) behind the scene, Harrold quipped: “Technically, the music of Miles was in my DNA. I already knew it. I was already transcribing Miles and listening to so much of his music as part of my own development.” Harrold knew the technicalities of playing trumpet. In the comforts of his home studio, he played and recorded: “With only three valves to play on, I watched Don’s fingering, and had to go through some 7 types of possible fingers to get the right sound.”

Harrold’s social activism revolves around musical attitude and youth development. “I’m lucky that I’ve had such opportunity to learn, and that I try my best to give back as much as I can, whether it’s working in schools or in a community center.” He doesn’t shy away from telling the true story: “I’ve been blessed in life with a story (police brutality) that requires me to talk about it. My parents encouraged this. I’m touched by certain things so I feel I have to tell it and write it in my music. If something is going on, like the refugee crises or the Michael Brown killing, I have to write about it. “

What is it like to be invited to a festival in Africa? Harrold expressed his yearning as an African American, living in the United States, that something was ‘missing’. “But when I come here, I can find a way to complete what my psyche is missing. It’s such a pleasure to perform on this continent. Africa gave birth to the root of jazz, the soul, the rhythm, the intensity. The heart of jazz, for me, comes from the Black experience. It’s a homecoming to me, so coming here is very very special.” In a careful and calculated way, Harrold admits he will continue to fight against the “global matrix of anti-black sentiments”, and to be part of the solution, “to advance culture and the majesty of Black people”.

So how would you define your music, I asked Harrold sheepishly, knowing full well no one likes to be asked that question. Keeping to his polite demeanor, he shared: “ My music is not traditional, with trumpet, bass, etc. but sometimes rap, sometimes beats from the machine. It’s everything. That’s why I brought my man, Pharoahe Monch, with me. His music is a living kind of thing, so I use it.” Monch had brought the final performance of the Festival on that one stage to an utter frenzy, as security mustered up their wits to prepare for a jovial crowd of over 1000 people to exit the hall en mass, down the narrow escalators, almost single file, to exit the Center at ground level.

But I can’t stop here…. There’s more to tell about this creative thinker and grassroots activist. Wanting to look right into the soul of this artist, I asked: “What really moves you?”  Appropriately, he quickly replied: “You said it – ‘move’ is key. I like to use the word,’ vibration’. Blowing the horn, there’s a vibration for every note. So everytime I play the trumpet, I get moved, I can’t explain it. I just like to send out those vibrations, in the spirit of love and peace.”

Keyon Harrold is determined to return to South Africa, and is ever ready to workshop with youth, something he’s used to doing for several decades, with grace and a giving spirit. We were blessed to have his presence, even though short.  Watch this delightful video:;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_Yx-cWkYWo&list=RDEMjtGg6C4kL0ghpt3y2va-6A&start_radio=1

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BLACK EARTH, BLACK IDENTITIES, AND AFROFUTURISM ring messages at CTIJF 2019: Flautist Nicole Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble.

There are particularly moving and important themes in this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival offerings which attracted this writer immediately after assessing the artist lineup. Telling, indeed, about our increasingly destabilising contemporary world and how music is becoming reactive. Various artists from Black identities brought ancestral histories and current struggles for equality and justice to the fore, not just in their sound – we’re talking music, right? – but in their message.

Giving voice to the unheard profoundly resonated a truth, but with a sense of love and inclusiveness. ….cause we’re all in this together…… Particular focus, I found, was on the Black female, the feminine in nature and spirit, the Earth as being the root of soul that Mothers all, and on her-stories about chained freedoms. African American flautist Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble breathed message and emotion into her flute as her two female percussionists led the rhythms which detailed African rootedness, torture of separation from a motherland, and resolve in making the new land listen and take note of beautiful identities which honour spirit, tradition, and caring for all humanity to better sustain Mother Earth.

photo credit: Lauren Deutch

Collectively, Mitchell’s purpose with poet/pastor/singer husband Calvin Gantt was to convey messages of peace, hope, and courage to the downtrodden, or what she refers to as ‘Afrofuturist fantasies’ wedded with social activism.

During her press conference, Mitchell giggled about how her teenage journaling was influenced by African American futurist and science fiction author, Octavia Butler, whose works had also attracted Mitchell’s mother to paint about futuristic fantasies, like black mothers with their babies sitting on Saturn. Butler’s stories inspired three of Mitchell’s music projects, one dealing with a black woman on a space ship who wakes up, and then must deal with extra-terrestrials she encounters. “ So my music reflects all aspects of life – the horrors, struggles, joys, etc. – and is not always at ease with sound,” Mitchell admits. Another off-putting moment for her band was their performance a day after the USA elections of 2016 and how the band had to stay focused after the shock announcement that D. Trump had won the Presidential election. Their audience was seeking refuge and the band felt it must not become overwhelmed by the heartbreak and distain of their fellow Black and white communities brought about by this result. As Mitchell explained, “I feel instrumental music isn’t enough for me; I feel I have to make lyrics about what’s going on in our humanity in order to provide some hope.”

Regarding the question of the worthiness of music technologies and how it affects creativity, her points again addressed social justice issues. “We focus too much on technology which is geared to making money. Rather, we should focus more on our humanity and the way we treat each other, recognize our human suicide, and support communities with ecological sensitivities.” This resonates with why she chose the flute: “As a child, I related to birds, bugs, and nature. The flute embodied this nature. My voice is the same range as the instrument, so using my voice is a way of leaving evidence that a woman was here, in music that doesn’t always celebrate women as it should.”

Continuing with her take on tech: “I try to embody or model in my music how we can bond together better, with different musical languages co-existing together. The Western way of doing things is coming to an end. Very few people benefit while many suffer. In this regard, I have explored electronics and am working on a CD as my first electronics venture.”

Likewise, jazz education at university level can be a bit exclusionary: “I think if you have a conservatory method, then you are automatically closing access to a lot of great talent which can offer other skills. You have to bring in the jazz musicians as teachers, and not just those who have academic credentials. I have seen students who audition for music school; some will prefer to show their improvisation skills; others will read their scores. Many schools will take the student who can read. This is a privileged position which many great musicians don’t have.”

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Mitchell’s Master class revealed talent galore in her 9 piece band, several being multi-instrumentalists and well educated in the industry. Mitchell herself boasts a number of awards and leadership service, including being the first Black female president of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in Chicago. But ‘leadership’ is not what she intended; rather creative messaging to get the truth out there.

In their festival stage performance, her Black Earth Ensemble presented some ambitious, highly rhythmic self-composed songs in their festival performance, filling the stage with their energetic repertoire. The band concluded with a highly emotional incantation in gospel style by singer Avery Young in “Save the Children”. The singer was actually in tears and received consolation from fellow singer, pastor Calvin Gantt, who proceeded to preach how we must save the street children of Capetown. While one can applaud such a noble message, it also strikes of typical American arrogance known too well to hosting audiences, especially coming from a first-time-visitor to Capetown, or for that matter, to ‘Africa’. Well, as I listened, I was always looking for the music amongst the messaging. Percussion (bongos, congas, and drums) can easily overpower vocalists and instruments. I’m afraid this is what happened. Yet, Mitchell’s mastery of the flute is jaw-dropping, as is her laudable attitude to make right what has gone horribly wrong in our world. 

Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble 2018 album, Mandorla Awakening II:Emerging Worlds can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP7FRucsNKc

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Vocal chants and silent noise: jazz vocalist Gabisile Motuba evokes profoundly deep sonic themes and bends rules

Artists who invoke the philosophies of Franz Fanon or saxophonist Zim Ngqawana, and search for spiritual content in artistry in our otherwise violent contemporary world, resonate with an admirable depth for exploration. Young vocalist, Gabisile Motuba, supported by her drummer husband, Tumi Mogorosi, is a sound enthusiast who has delighted our Capetown stages with hauntingly alternative music which defies definition.

I think about the silence that occurs in violence, and how to survive staying silent while the scream that occurs on the other side is heard under this veil of silence.

Launching her new album, Tefiti – Goddess of Creation, this being her and her husband’s second album after Sanctum Santorium which was a product of her Swiss residency with ProHelvetia, Motuba presents a rare ‘classical’ feel to her musical idiom which is more choral ancestral chant than rhythm and blues. She has creatively wedded the string instruments of violin, viola, and cello in slow melodies with a voice that breathes out its message in unconventional ways. One listens and absorbs spirit-like sonic tones and pitches influenced by chanting, with softer and more mellow lower register strings harnessing this vocal repetition. Several songs on Tefiti have Tswana and English lyrics.

Completing her jazz music degree in 2013 at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria, Mamolodi-born Motuba embarked on an experimental journey to find her own voice. She doesn’t consider herself a singer, per se, but sees a range of soundscapes possible with breath, voicing, and strings. For instance, she explores ‘silent noise’, referring to how slaves sang their songs in quiet tones so as not to appear rambunctious or defiant to their owners. But their messages were stark.

Motuba draws inspiration from such vocalists as Gretchen Parlato, Esperanza Spalding and Concha Buika, and South Africans such as pianist Nduduzo Makhatini, trombonist Malcolm Jiyane, and saxophonist Mthunzi Mvubu. Her and her husband’s European residency with Swiss musicians spiralled this young couple into unknown and continuing sonic journeys in experimentation within the ‘jazz’ idiom, begun during their studies at TUT. She admits:

Knowledge I gained wasn’t always through a conscious pursuit of what jazz is; rather, it was music I ran into or was introduced to by friends. A lot of us gravitated collectively towards the spiritual, into African spirituality. Not in a literal sense, but evoking a need to go deeper, an excavation of what this music is about, and not just performing for the sake of performing. This is why I gravitated towards the chanting style.

Thirsty for more insights, I caught up with Gabi between her various Capetown gigs.

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CM: Why strings? And why the cello in your compositions?

Gabi: I love the timber of the cello and viola with their alto sound I had been listening a lot to the strings compositions by John Shaw at the time, and also the British cellist, Jacqueline Mary du Pré, in her classical performances, and I was thinking of how to use these stringed instruments…. You know, how to navigate this ‘other world’ of the classics. I was focusing on sound, and realized why the viola is paired so well with the cello and violins. The cello has this warm and rich sound along with the voila’s lower register warmth, compared to the higher nervous pitch of the violin. The cello is a bit more sound-friendly for my vocal range.

CM: You trained in ‘jazz’, but your style and approach to music is not improvisational. It’s more like traditional chants, like a connection with the spiritual pursuits you hear in church, and also amongst First Peoples’ music, like the American Indian’s music with their ancestral male chants. You did mention that you’re not into voice techniques so I’d like to understand your thinking here.

Gabi: I don’t think initially it was intentional. The jazz department at the Tshwane University of Technology really allowed artist to experiment so I never felt I was trapped in the traditional aspects of jazz and their formations. My peers and I were able to explore music together beyond the jazz idiom, even when intensively studying jazz music. You can really plant little seeds and let the collective discussions happen. This is what I’m interested in.

CM: There’s a term we can use when trying to describe or go deeper into that spiritual realm, and that is exploring consciousness. That seems to be what you are doing, exploring deeper levels of consciousness and awareness of being, of existence. And sound allows us humans to go deeper, doesn’t it?

Gabi: Yes, tapping into awareness – the jazz idiom allows us to understand that this jazz music doesn’t only exist within the jazz idiom, but can bring friends with different expressions together to produce music. This has enabled many to look outside of jazz to connect and search deeper into narratives. For instance, going into academia, or fine art, or literary art, it allows us to find jazz outside of the standard stage.

CM: I’m intrigued because it’s all about sound, and what sound evokes in our being. You’re not coming with a message that I need to listen to. Rather, I’m led to find out what that message is, through your sound.

Gabi: Yes, exactly. It’s not pointing to a particular thing, but giving us an idea in a very subtle way, and in a way that the listener can really engage within their own parameters and understanding, with a sense of freedom.

CM: So who has offered you inspiration?

Gabi: Well, my husband……. Haha….. he’s, of course, my inspiration! I grew up with and watched Siya Makuzeni, and her approach to vocals and scat music, sound technique, and her sound. She helped me a lot with my own artistic mapping. I listen to a lot of people — particularly the generation ahead of me – those jazz practitioners like Nduduzo Makhatini, Zim Ngqawana, and that age group. They had better access to their older peers, like Zim Ngqawana, Andile Yenana, Herbie, and Mholo. I found landmarks to use for navigating and thinking through my kind of sound, along with my peers.

CM: Tell me more about ‘The Wretched’ project – what tonality and instruments are you using because you’re focusing on violence in the world?

Gabi: I’m excited to be with this collective which includes my husband improvising on drums, and Andre van Vyk on electronics soundscaping, and then me on voice. We are concerned with the chapter on violence that Franz Fanon talks about in his book, The Wretched of the Earth. We are reinterpreting his text through the sonic, looking at violence and how it manifests itself in our dark spaces. I think about the silence that occurs in violence, and how to survive staying silent while the scream that occurs on the other side is heard under this veil of silence. My voice in this collective is bizarre. The music will not be ‘enjoyed’; it’s loud and poses uncomfortable sounds because the topic of violence is not pleasant. This narrative is brought home ….. referring to violence in S. African society.

We’ve already recorded the project. Now, we’re deciding how to present it.

CM: It sounds like you and Tumi are musical activists in that you want to pursue the deeper themes, having compassion about our world, but want to bring forth the message that violence must be confronted.

Gabi: Yes, it’s this idea of violence against the ‘other’, the violence of ‘othering’ bodies, that we’ve allowed this ‘otherness’ to take up space occupied by people of Black decent. So it’s a very intensive and crazy subject and demanding….

CM: Well, it’s not crazy when you see how this ‘otherness’ is growing globally and coming under fire – with all this white supremacy raising its ugly head.

Gabi: By ‘crazy’ I mean that this condition [of violence] is unfathomable, and allowed to become possible. So we are addressing this, thinking through in The Wretched this idea of the ‘possible impossibilities’ of Blackness, and these impossibilities being violence in its different forms.
So the music becomes an artistic piece and engages with one’s imagination and opinions about what’s going on. It allows you to also expand your own thoughts, and be open to receiving this other uncomfortable message.

Motuba’s quest to deploy meaning in her music appears noble, gutsy, and perhaps unnerving, but ultimately transformative for our own soul-scapes.

Catch her upcoming gigs in Capetown organized by Jazz in the Native Yards at The Drawing Room in Observatory on Friday, 22 March (7pm), and at the Alliance Francaise on Friday, 29 March (7pm).

She and husband plan to tour their Tefiti album in Africa soon, then in Frankfort and Berlin in May.

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Pianist Ibrahim Khalil Shihab revives a musical era in Essence of Spring (2018): CD Review

Listening to Essence of Spring (2018), a remake from its 1969 debut, is like experiencing an intergenerational revival, as the Elder Legend performs with his younger proteges, but without copying the past. It’s a musical history of an era in which composer Ibrahim Khalil Shihab, formerly Chris Schilder, performed with the popular Pacific Express band. Fifty years onward, Shihab, now in this 70s, has resurrected those popular songs, fusing them in this album with more contemporary jazz compositions.

Album producer and fellow pianist and protégé, Ramon Alexander, joins in this stylistic revival, moving Shihab’s songs from a swing era, including favourite American Standards, to present-day Cape ghoema rhythms.

Ibrahim Khalil Shihab and Ramon Alexander

Shihab’s Quintet is performing Spring this March, first at next week’s Woordfees at Stellenbosch University, and then at the Capetown International Jazz Festival (30 March on Rosie’s Stage) . The album is a celebration of style, but not necessarily story. The listener enjoys a mixture of motown, dance swing and blues, Latin, some improvised free jazz, and of course, the local Cape ghoema so richly conserved by the Schilder family generations.  Key, here, is Shahib’s satin piano solos, rich and graceful.

There’s electric and acoustic which provide moods with textures along with Shihab’s pentatonics that suggest the bluesy-ness of an era. His famous “Give a Little Love” is, according to Gary van Dyk writing in the album notes, “one of the anthems” of South African music. Van Dyk’s ‘notes’ are themselves an enlightening review of the album, telling us about the ‘Why’.

The younger musicians shine, while staying true to the legendary: The subtle yet pleasantly rhythmic inuendos of drummer Annemie Nel feature throughout, particularly in the last piece, Shihab’s remake of a classic, “My Funny Valentine”. Hear a soothing Shihab piano interpretation with Nel’s drums and the slight touch of delicacy by Lionel Buekes’ acoustic bass. Saxophonist Zeke Le Grange fires through the opening song, ‘Spring’, with a bossa feel and runs, followed by Shihab’s piano solo. The sax harmonies continue with trumpeter Marco Maritz accompanying the vibrant ghoema drums in ‘BoKaap’, as Shihab celebrates contemporary Cape jazz styles. Le Grange’s imitative stance holds well with Shihab’s fast paced keyboards in the liquidy “Cancerian Moon”.

Different vocalists interpret other Pacific Express songs: in “Angel of love”, Heinrich Frans’s familiar vocals and scats offer convincing emotions along with Alexander’s piano supports; Deon Manchess croons out lyrics in “I Hear Music”, suggesting just relax and let the music take you far and away to find that dream and never be without a song!

Shihab is not afraid to wander across the ‘free jazz’ modalities, thanks to guitarist, Reza Khota, known for his improvisational voicings, as “In Pursuance”, and where Asia meets Latin in Shihab’s unsuspecting ‘Jing’an Park’ with a surprising but cute ending. 

See the IK Shihab Quintet at the Weltevreden Restaurant Theater in Stellenbosch on 2 March at 13:00 and on 3 March at 19:00

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Trumpeter, Vocalist Mandisi Dyantyis emotes stories in ‘Somandla’: a CD Review

Trumpeter, vocalist, composer, arranger, director, Mandisi Dyantyis, has birthed his first jazz album, Somandla, which spellbounds. This lyrical album contains not your ordinary love themes, but queries, confusions, dark spaces conveying loneliness and searching for acceptance, from family, a loved one, even from God.

A deeply emotional story, Somandla (which means ‘the all-powerful’, a reference to God) calls us to try to understand laments in relationships. While a few songs are just instrumental, mostly in ballad form, highlighting the talents of the Quintet, most sung lyrics by Dyantyis with his voice-overs effectively displaying multiple harmonies that skillfully weave messages of forlorn or crass warnings to parents to wake up and behave! Remarkably, Dyantyis has chosen to sing in isiXhosa which adds to the authentic nature of his stories, and, indeed, adds diversity to the South African jazz repertoire.

Band members add dimension to Dyantyis’ sometimes troubled horn and lyrics: Established tenor saxman Buddy Wells and pianist Blake Hellaby match well with the younger hopefuls, drummer Lumanyano Unity Mzi and double bassist Sean Sanby. No electronic instrumentation exists in this very moving album, acoustically recorded in the Capetown Milestone Studios in 2018. Other guest pianists are Andrew Lily and Bokani Dyer.

The lyrics strain the ear with unexpected messages. [For non-isiXhosa speakers] Our society remains stagnant and needs to improve in ‘Kuse Kude’; don’t pretend you’re not having pain in ‘Inzingo’; are we producing a nation of moral cripples in ‘Esazalwwa Sinje’; the orphan is vulnerable in ‘Ingoma Yenedama’; a prayer to the All Powerful One in ‘Somandla’; a longing for that beautiful lady to be my soulmate in ‘Molo Sisi’; how love is unmeasurable in the love ballad, ‘Ndimthanda’; and I cry for your love until my eyes bleed in ‘Kobe Kube Nini’. Rarely has a jazz album evoked such emotion, from Dyantyis’ voice inflections and mellow controls to the instrumental tightness and loyalty of fellow musicians who so expertly understand how music and emotion work together. You will too.

Although this is his first jazz album, Dyantyis boasts an impressive work history composing for musical theatre, scoring plays, and traveling worldwide with drama troupes. Now resident in Capetown, Dyantiyis and his Quintet perform on Sunday, 24 Feb, at Langa’s Guga S’Thebe Community Center starting 4pm.  Another exciting sponsorship by Jazz in the Native Yards and ConcertsSA. 

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Cape Jazz Piano, Vol 5, says it all: a CD Review

For anyone wanting to learn more about, or just listen to the tried and tested tunes from the Cape jazz legends, this album guarantees without disappointing. It’s perfectly listenable, even for those inevitable urban traffic jams as delightful tunes and rhythms spew forth from the comforts of your car’s (no doubt) excellent sound system. Designed and produced by Paddy Lee-Thorp and recorded at Milestone Studios in Capetown in 2018, rarely does an album harness the clear articulations and different styles of key pianists known to also ‘cross over’, from the Cape ghoema and musical inflections unique to this part of South Africa into other ‘genres’ of songs made popular by their highly melodic, soulful, and danceable content….yet stay true to ‘Cape jazz’. Let’s explore.

Jazz pianists were asked to play songs rated as ‘standards’ of the Cape. Most played at least one of their own creations which will have you melt away into their enticingly simple stories, even with reinterpretations.

Hilton Schilder, known for both his love and mastery of Khoisan instruments, teases with his two piano-crafted Khoisan Symphony pieces – the listener at first hears a familiar ballad-style which breaks out into rhythmic ghoema, and returns to the melodic soul. We return to the camp fire after the hunt.

Ramon Alexander stays true to tradition, again with ballad intros that break into a zesty Cape ghoema in ‘Club Montreal’ (written by Tony Schilder, father of Hilton). Alexander has always explored the emotions and musical depths of his musical gurus and this song perks with loving affirmation.

Ibrahim Shihab & Ramon Alexander

In his next presentation, ‘Kaapse Medley; Alexander plays his own piece, ‘Take Me Back to Capetown’, with that love for the rhythmic and soul-lifting Cape sound…yet, with a twist.

Mike Perry, known to have played with local legends of saxman Winston Mankunku and Robbie Jansen, has revived his ‘Green and Gold’ song, a tribute to the new South Africa, and the well-versed ‘Crossroads’ which depicts those township days announcing that freedom-is-here. These tunes are not just copies; they’re expressing something awesomely new about realities 20 years hence. Just listen.

But the real don of this album is Ibrahim Kalil Shihab’s (aka Chris Schilder, uncle to Hilton) medleys.   His popular and reinvented ‘Give a Little Love’, commonly voiced over the years by many Capeys, is refreshingly presented  as its author finds slippery and then defined routes to truthfully navigate this essentially beautiful tune of love, as bluesy as it is. A remarkable interpretation and so listenable. Likewise, his ‘All Through the Years’ continues to push his own sound into that contemporary style of improvising on the theme. Just listen.

This is why ‘Cape Jazz Piano’ is a collector’s item; the songs are ageless, ever storytelling, and ultimately danceable and celebratory…… yet still evoking newer messaging and sound styling.  I wonder in awe what Volume 6 might look like!

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TRC’s “Afrika Grooves” tells artists’ stories: Mlangeni and Mkize discusss

TRC – Tune Recreation Committee – has produced ‘Afrika Grooves’ which rings of collective healing and learnings, attributed to one’s own musical society at large as well as legendary greats who have influenced each musician.         

Even appreciation for a Buddhist teacher and Swedish hospitality are themed in this eclectic album which presents each musician’s composition. Sonic stories pulse with African beats, longings, and memories of what seemed to work well for each musician, like bassist Nicolas Williams’ love for the red colour in “Red Room” which inspired him at one time. Several compositions stay close to the musician’s forte, like guitarist Reza Khota’s ‘Diamond Mind’ with its spiritual and thoughtful bent punctuated by time signature changes ala John McLaughlin which makes this long piece quite interesting.

Pianist Afrika Mkize tries in “Kudala”, the opening piece on the album, to present a traditional Mbhaqanga tune without using the usual Mbhaqanga 1-4-5 progression. Well, he ended up playing that tried and tested progression. Likewise, in his song, “Malume”, one hears his enthralling tribute to fellow musician and bassist, Herbie Tsoaeli, whose influence and guidance steered the younger Mkize. Saxophonist Mark Fransman adds colour and contrast.

Band leader, trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni , brings two very different pieces to this album’s groove: a classical Ravelian piano feel to “Lover’s Reverie” sets a dreamy mood followed by Mlangeni’s slow muted diction. Here, Mkize shows his classical best. Mlangeni’s ending piece, “Abazingeli”, pulls African beats and indigenous percussion and whistles of guest Tlale Makhene into an aural story about how our early hunters survived.

While TRC upholds a philosophy of collaboration with and freedom by artists, one only wonders what threads hold the musical stories together, other than providing a sonic platform for individual voices and styles.

Musically speaking, pianist Mkize holds this album together. I caught up with him and Mlangeni during their Capetown tour end January 2019….

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Trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni grew up as a ‘city slicker’ with urban influences in a politically active family. He boasts a range of skills including teaching, performing, arranging and composing diverse styles of music for which he has secured an Artist in Residence at the University of the Western Cape in Capetown. Afrika Mkize, son of illustrious pianist, Themba Mkize, grew up in rural KwaZulu Natal and home-studied classical piano from an early age. Both musicians formally trained at the National School for the Arts in Johannesburg, and went on to compose and perform with other bands, some in European and American spaces. Both have received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz.

As part of the TRC’s collaboration focus, the band joins others at Africa-wide music Festivals, including the Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar early February, and later in May, festivals in Swaziland, at JHB’s Constitutional Hill, and then in Reunion Island and Durban. This festival circuit is given the name, Igoda, a concept which in Zulu means weaving two threads to strengthen a rope. “We call it Igoda because the TRC wants to network with various platforms, musicians, and institutions in Africa to share our talents and push jazz music forward across other musical landscapes,” says Mlangeni. He sees his role as Artist in Residence at the University of Western Cape for these next 6 months: “I’ll be dealing with programming and gaining access to larger communities and establishing networks so that artists can tap into a festival network.” Hence, TRC’s thrust in committing to the Igoda Southern African Music Festival Circuit during 2019.

On the other hand, Afrika Mkize has redirected his energies from performing and composing to undertaking other creative and ambitious projects. His ongoing mastery in transcribing the late pianist Mbeki Mseleku’s songs has impressed enthusiasts, teachers, and students who can now access published materials of this great South African jazz legend. Writing audio scores for radio ads and TV series, such as “Fallen”, keeps him working at home where he prefers to be. “It doesn’t make economic sense any more to just perform,” he admits,” particularly now that the Orbit is closed in JHB.” He continues:

“I produce records, even tune pianos now for an income. I never dreamed I would do that! I’m currently working on producing a record for vocalist Mbusa Khosa from Durban, who has worked with [Carlo] Mombelli a lot. Productions maintain an income and commissions plus royalties from the production. I like the business that prolongs income for my children.”

Mkize is very concerned that performances are perhaps dying out.

“Lots of musicians have been going to school, getting degrees, higher degrees, so in the next 5-10 years, everyone will be wanting to teach. And there won’t be many performers or venues out there to listen to. We as performers are in serious trouble also because there won’t be enough opportunities for teaching as there will be too any of us for the few institutions!”

Mkize continues.

“You know, this ‘Integration’ in 1994 is a weird subject to talk about. In the 70s and 80s, Black musicians were playing in the townships. With the new government of 1994, ‘integration’ was almost like a negative thing. The business of music could move ‘to town’ where ‘integration’ could take place, but where there were fewer venues for playing than during apartheid in townships! And capitalism – whoever was making money during apartheid can make their money in the open now, so the gap of who’s making it, and who’s not making it comes to light…those with money flourished. Others of us – are we going to buy a CD or bread? “

Both musicians believe the whole creative sector needs to come together with musicians to clarify values. Mlangeni expresses hope: “We are activating a movement with more cultural currency; more building of bridges, creating a singularity/a vision that includes everyone. African differences are brought together while sharing commonalities at workshops and on the live stage.”

The Igoda Southern African Music Festival Circuit is certainly one major opportunity to gather artists for sharing and resolving issues they continually face. Patrons are urged to attend.

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ALL JAZZ RADIO REVIEW – The Gin & Jazz Sessions featuring Buddy Wells & Reza Khota

Thursday 17 January 2019 – By Eric Alan

The intimate venue proved to be the right locale for the extraordinary performances we have so far experienced at the Deep South Distillery. Each of the three performance evenings has been totally diverse and unique which bodes well for South African Jazz Blues, Latin and World Jazzat this intimate venue. Best of all it combines well, very well with the inimitable artisanal products available at each of the evenings. 

The Gin and Jazz Session with Buddy Wells, saxophone and Reza Khota, guitar at the Deep South Distillery in Kommetjie last night was sublime expression and a lesson in the fine art of the duo performance. It was an evening of a few totally re-imagined standards, both South African and International, as well as a number of ama-zing original works by both musicians.It was truly a night to remember because each of the pieces played will never be repeated the same way again. Buddy and Reza are remarkable musicians going to places where many would fear to go, and their rapport showed throughout the performance. I believe they really enjoyed performing for the assembled audience who in turn gave them huge respect with enthusiastic applause. Thanks goodness the evening was recorded for later broadcast on All Jazz Radioonce quality checks have been done.

The gin, Deep South Cape Dry and Ruby cocktails were a taste sensation and enjoyed by one and all, but the best kept secret, now no longer a secret was the Marula Madness, developed and expertly mixed by Sandy, and is in all honesty, extremely moreish. I hope it will be added to the growing list of cocktail recipes in the Deep South Distillery’s Secret Alchemists Book of Mysterious & Ancient Mixology,which can then be experienced and enjoyed by all who visit the distillery over the millennia.

The distinctive Cape Cola, which tastes like no other cola product along with the refreshing Lemi-lemi, which is an incomparable slightly sparkling lemon with a tinge of ginger soft drink, yummolicious. Lasses’ passion shines thought when talking about his products.

Chef Rochelle and Andre Coetzee of AndRoc’S Mobile Kitchen & Catering trailer menu was well  received. I say that I really enjoyed the Roll me a Boerie served in a tortilla with a scrumcious piece of great boerewors, with a dollop of excellent homemade chilli relish, rocket and some crumbled Blue Cheese, totally lip-smackin’ good. The Pizza Sandwich, which is another name for a Quesadilla, made with two tortilla flatbreads pressed together filled with a creamy mozzarella cheese, homemade tomato relish and drizzled with homemade basil pesto. I did not try it but those who did were extremely happy. The dessert, a Berry Cream donut which was a new addition to the menu was particularly decedent in a um, ar, er lovely / way depending on ones view, and yet tasty.

Where: Deep South Distillery, Heron Park, Wildevoelvlei Rd, Kommetjie Directions: Take the Kommetjie Road south – drive past Masiphumelele (on the right) – look out for Fish Eagle Park (on the right) – Heron Park is next on the right. Turn right and take the first left into Wildevoelvlei Road. Deep South Distillery is at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Below are the details for the next performance to be held at The Deep South Distillery in Kommetjie

February 2019 Performance Dates
Wed 06th Dave Ledbetter Guitar/Vocals & Ronan Skillen – Percussion – duo is known as Deep South
Wed 20th Hilton and Eldred Schilder – Piano & Bass

March 2019 Performance Dates
Wed 06th Tony Cedras Duo – Multiple instruments (Guitar, Vocals, Flute, Trumpet, Accordian, Piano, Percussion)

Wed 20th Thembelihle Dunjana Duo – Piano, & Percussion

See y’all on Wed 06th February

Thanks,

Eric

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A Blog Supreme – All Jazz Radio’s bits & bobs of this & that about the World of Jazz

I was chided and reminded by our webiter Carol Martin that I’d not written this Blog for quite sometime so here we go with this year’s first edition of A Blog Supreme. Sjoe, but where to begin, ok got it, change is what the New Year is all about, not so?

We have made major changes to the Program Schedule during the week The Jazz Rendezvous Jazz, Blues, Latin, World Jazz, Music & Musicians, Cabaret & Entertainers, Artisanal Booze, Wine & Beer, Cocktails, Pinotage, Coffee, Grub, Sarmie (Sandwich) & Stockvel Radio Show and In Conversation with …. or as we refer to is as, in short, The Jazz Rendezvous Radio Pinotage, Coffee, Sarmie (Sandwich) & Stockvel Show been moved two hours later to the 4pm (16:00) to 6pm (18:00) Central African Time slot to accommodate some of our In Conversation with …. chat show guests from the global village. I am currently setting up new and intersting interviews and will be posting details soon.

The other show affected by this change is Brian Currin’s Vagabond Show which has been moved 2 hours backwards but remains on Wednesdays, and will be heard from 2pm (14:00) to 4pm (16:00) C.A.T.going forwards into this new year.

This year there will be some new voices heard on the All Jazz Radio streamimg waves soon. One being Richard Arends who will be lending his dulcet toned voice the a new and exciting still to be named show on Tuesdays from 8pm (20:00) to 10pm (22:00).

The vision of us at All Jazz Radio is to become South Africa, Africa and the World’s favourite jazz social lifestyle radio station and be the essential broadcaster of the genre mix of Jazz, Blues, Latin & World Jazz in all forms. Our focus is the music of South Africa, Africa and the rest of the global village, thereby enriching the social, cultural, educational and community experience of our listening audience from around the World.

Stalwart friend and collegue Glifford Graham is returning to the “airwaves” once again after a short break and will be presenting his show Take 5 and Then Some. in his previous time slot of Mondays from 6pm (18:00) to 8pm (20:00) C.A.T.

Klutz in the Kitchen

The Klutz in the Kitchen has been fairly quite over the festive period and is now re- energised and is beavering away to find some wonderful new quick, easy and simple tasty recipes for you to create mayhem in the kitchen and prove to one and all you can do it, yep you know you can, so watch out for the first to be posted soon. The Klutz has been pretty good this week by cooking some really nice mutton shanks so I’ve invited my 91 year old mom over for lunch to share this dish, it’s going to be good, I know because I’ve sneaked a wee taste, shh, don’t tell the Klutz, neh.

The Gin & Jazz Sessions in association with The Deep South Distillery in Kommetjie, The Jazz Connection and ourselves and has got off to a good start and so far have shown growth over the past performance. We’ve showcasing great original and re-imagined music by local Cape based musicians. I hope we’ll see you at the next one on Wednesday 16th January when Buddy Wells and Reza Khota will be sharing their music with the audience.

The Deep South Distillery in association with All Jazz Radio and the Jazz Connection presents an exciting series of Solo and Duo origiGINal and spontaneous compositional acoustic music performances at least twice a month.

On Wednesday 16th January Buddy Wells and Reza Khota will start playing at 19:15 (7:15pm) a total of 90 minutes of music with a 15 minute break halfway through the performance.

Muizenberg, Cape Town based saxophonist, bandleader, sideman, composer, and arranger Buddy Wells has over the years, since college days, built an enviable reputation as one of the finest saxophonists the Cape and the country has to offer. He has performed and recorded with many well known South African and international music legends.

He is currently involved with his own band, The Buddy Wells Quintet, and performs regularly with The Reza Khota Quartet, Offshore Jazz Quartet, Andreas Loven Quartet, Breakfast Included, Tucan Tucan, The Frank Paco Art Ensemble, John Hassan’s Hassan ‘adas and The Adamu Trio.

Reza Khota is a guitarist with a distinct voice and performs with a musicality and technical facility that recalls the rich history of the instrument. He is equally comfortable performing composed and improvised music and has performed at festivals such as the Joy of Jazz Festival and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Reza has also collaborated with people in the world of fine arts, most notably in performance pieces by William Kentridge and Nicholas Hlobo.

He currently plays with the cream of young SA Jazz musicians in bands such as: Kesivan and the Lights as well as the Shane Cooper Quintet who’s album “Oscillations” received widespread praise from local and international press. In addition to being a sideman in these bands Reza has his own quartet featuring Jonno Sweetman, Shane Cooper and Buddy Wells recently released album Liminal the follow up to his highly acclaimed 2014 debut album Transmutation. He was an artist in residence in Bern, Switzerland from Oct – Dec 2013, and is currently an artist in residence at UWC’s Center for Humanities Research. He recently composed music based on Derek Grippers Kora transcriptions for classical guitar maestro John Williams.

Please do come early to enjoy the ama-zing imaGINative Deep South welcome drink drawn from the Deep South Distillery’s Secret Alchemists Book of Mysterious & Ancient Mixology. The book, kept in the family, under strict eyes only security measures for centuries and handed down over the  to family head and the current Master Wizard of the Ancient, Sacred Mixology and Distilling Arts distillery owner Steve Erlank. There is also a cash bar for any further libation.

Come early to meet the Distillery team, organisers, partners and musicians. One can enjoy a bite to eat prior to the start or after the show. The meals are expertly prepared by local Kommetjie caterers Rochelle and Andre Coetzee from their AndRoc’s Food Trailer.

The Bridge of Hope Wines will be available for sale and provided by label owner and distributor, Rosemary Mosia.

Lasse Presting, owner of the new and every exciting cola and a lemon with a tinge of ginger cool drink products, Cape Cola, will also be on hand and have his products available for tasting, mixing and sales,

The price of admission for adults is R170 (pre-booked) or R210 (at the door) per person, which includes an inGINious, invigorating welcome boozy liquid concoction. Tickets for children under the age of 18 are R100.

BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL– This is an intimate venue and numbers are limited – For bookings please call 076 900 3171 or email hello@jazzconnection.co.za

About the Gin & Jazz Performances

This series of performances is to encourage original Jazz, Blues, Latin and World Jazz works to be presented to a discerning, adventurous audience of music lovers. The chosen performance medium of Solo’s and Duo’s as the format for what will be a very special performance by some of the most talented Jazz, Blues, Latin and World Jazz musicians in the Cape, South Africa and Africa. We wish to encourage and showcase the raw and emotional recitals of new and untried material by a number of musicians who will be invited to perform at the Deep South Distillery. No drum kit will be used; instead percussion instruments will be encouraged. Works of South African composers will also be encouraged with the popular ubiquitous covers being totally discouraged unless they are totally reimaGINed. We further wish to encourage spontaneous compositions at each of the shows.

Where: Deep South Distillery, Heron Park, Wildevoelvlei Rd, Kommetjie

Directions: Take the Kommetjie Road south – drive past Masiphumelele (on the right) – look out for Fish Eagle Park (on the right) – Heron Park is next on the right. Turn right and take the first left into Wildevoelvlei Road. Deep South Distillery is at the end of the cul-de-sac.

For bookings call please call 076 900 3171 or email hello@jazzconnection.co.za

Below are the details for the next performance to be held at The Deep South Distillery in Kommetjie

January 2019 Performance Dates
Wed 16th Buddy Wells & Reza Khota Duo – Sax & Guitar.

February 2019 Performance Dates
Wed 06th Dave Ledbetter Guitar/Vocals & Ronan Skillen – Percussion – known as Deep South
Wed 20th Hilton and Eldred Schilder – Piano & Bass

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Please send music for airplay consideration to music@alljazzradio.co.za and use the WeTransfer (https://wetransfer.com) file transfer service, which is the simplest and easiest of all services of a similar nature. Note too that we prefer MP3s over any other format due to slow download speeds currently available in our country. Please include an EPK and album cover jpeg and biog martial as well. Please note to that we are an A.O.J. (Album Oriented Jazz) Station, our presenters are free to make their own choice for their shows and therefore we play all tracks from the albums we receive, please send full album with all details soonest. We add only full albums as we believe that as an artist you are telling a story though the thread of the entire album, after all an author does not write one page and call it a book.

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‘Gin and Jazz’ – oriGINal musical concoctions at Deep South Distillery

Why visit an artisanal gin distillery on a Wednesday evening in Heron Park in the sleepy Cape Peninsula village of Kommetjie?

Entertainment, gin tasting, and …. a different experience for a change. Why not? Deep South Distillery in partnership with All Jazz Radio is hosting delightful ‘Jazz and Gin’ Wednesdays (two per month for now) this 2019 featuring musicians in duos playing their acoustic oriGINal compositions for a listening audience eager to also sip away on a welcoming cocktail.

Steve Erlank, Owner Deep South Distillery

This ginnery converts its tasting room by day into a quality and intimate music venue by night – and quality it was. The room is decked out with a variety of gin bottles using different botanicals accompanied with colourful garnishes including juniper berries, dried orange slices, almost transparent cucumber slivers, and bottles of rum which is becoming a popular commodity as well.

Last Wednesday, 2 January, kicked in the New Year with style: The duo of guitarist James Kibby who thrives on Rhythm ‘n Blues, and the zany let-your-hair-fling vocalist Charles Summerfield who crosses over everyone from Sting to Marley to…..well, the list is long. Their presentations and tempo stayed true to the name they call themselves – The Outlaws. Since they started bending musical rules in 2012 in Capetown, The Outlaws incorporate spontaneous composition during their performances, something akin to Theatre Sports or the TV show, ‘ Whose Line Is It Anyway’.

Charles enjoys surprising listeners with his lyrical gymnastics that are twisty and spontaneous, a technique which he has used also with his animal rights awareness projects, particularly regarding rhino conservation. Those messages are serious, but this Wednesday eve, his style was playful and teasing, keeping pace with the audience’s mood. James brings his own magic, creating exciting musical composition groove combinations on his guitar and loop station, while creatively driving the rhythms. The duo played two sets, with intervals to allow listeners time to explore the different drinks at the cash bar, or munch on an affordable smoked rib or burger sliders from the Hungry Bear food truck parked outside. Deep South plans to showcase local craft food and beverages, the latter which offered delicious tastings from the Ginny Fowl Gin varieties and creative sodas made by Cape Cola.

The Outlaws’ music touches on acoustic disco, a bit of jazz, and Manu Chao style World Music, all mostly improvised. They continue to grow their oriGINal material in wild and wonderful ways for audiences in the Cape area, and will be welcomed to return again to Deep South in another six months.

Upcoming duos will feature:
16 January: Buddy Wells Saxophone Duo
6 February: Dave Ledbetter (Guitar/Vocals) & Ronan Skillen (Percussion) from Deep South
20 February: Hilton and Eldred Schilder Piano & Bass
For bookings, contact hello@jazzconnection.co.za or +27 (0)76 900 3171

Arrive 6.30pm for a bite to eat; music 7-9pm.

For R170 entry which includes a welcome cocktail and the music, this is a Wednesday evening of rare experience, a unique and intimate vibe, creative libations, and inventive sonic concoctions. Stay tuned on the Jazz Connection or All Jazz Radio Facebook pages.

Or just visit Deep South Distillery at 53 Heron Park, Wildevoelvlei Road, Kommetjie; Contact +27 (0)21 783 0129 or admin@deepsouthdistillery.co.za or https://www.deepsouthdistillery.co.za/
53 Heron Park, Wildevoelvlei Road, Kommetjie
Contact: 021 783 0129 or admin@deepsouthdistillery.co.za

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Bassist Carlo Mombelli spells out encounters with Angels and Demons: CD Review

This is a story about a search and an encounter, a wandering to find a bio-soul betwixt the angelic and demonic offerings in life. Mombelli’s compositions, heard on a vinyl recording released in December 2018, are haunting because of his findings which are emotional mixed with sensitivity, resolving to the sadness of displaced people’s uprootedness, yet suggesting there’s a mutual belongingness that we all can find and build amongst us. His creativity has wrestled with these anomalies for years, as he has travelled, educated, and co-created in many lands and institutions of Europe, America, and South Africa, his motherland.

Now based in Johannesburg where he also teaches at the University of Witswaterand and mentors students in Switzerland, his like-minded core band members help provide a framework for discovery in Angels and Demons: pianist Kyle Shepherd who frequents Mombelli’s sonic haunts; guitarist Keenen Ahrends; and whispy drummer Jonno Sweetman The pace is set in the opening song, ‘In Search of the Holy Grail’ with Shepherd’s Bach-ish piano runs and Mombelli’s eerie vocals behind Ahrends’ guitar conversation. Then the ear moves from this spiritual groove to ‘Pulses in the Centre of Silence’ which continues an emotional exploration of sound. It is also the title of Mombelli’s new book which presents how he has created his compositions.

Mombelli likes to creep around the edges. A classical feel emerges as cello strings are bowed in ‘Glissando’ by guest artist, Susan Mouton, behind a head-held-low piano. One listens carefully as this story unfolds oh so slowly and thoughtfully.

Ahrends shows his true grace and style on this album while Mombelli maintains a subtle lower register pace. In ‘Athens’, the piano chips into this repetitive beat held. Mombelli is searching to find his father here, after several decades’ absence. One hears perhaps a hesitancy of encountering, trepidation with the unknown, particularly as his bass maintains a rhythmic drone while Ahrend’s subtle guitar talks throughout.

Keenan Ahrends-credit Gregory Franz

This reunion of father/son becomes a renewal, of capturing without clinging. I found this song one of the most enthralling Mombelli-styled arrangements. It’s also the longest track on the album.

In ‘The Spiral Staircase’, there’s a wailing and yearning as Mombelli’s bass sets a steady repetitive hum. But confusion sets in. It’s like plunging into a long, deep well of uncertainty, enhanced by a rarely heard bass clarinet of guest artist, Janus van der Merwe. Further questioning follows with “Like a Mouse In a Maze” featuring Cartwright playing Bach-gone-mad improvised runs that deliberately hit ‘wrong’ notes, something tolerated in improvised music. Fortunately, that scattered tone doesn’t last long as his piano melts into a soulful ballad-type ‘Children of Aleppo’ with Mombelli’s underlying sad pronouncements about a pathetic world gone wrong for children (and adults). One is surprised by the contemplative nature of technique which, because of the subject theme, would expect to be cacophonic and aggressively unpleasant. Unlike entry of the next songs on the album which are almost immediate, there is a much relieved pause after ‘Children of Aleppo’ finishes, allowing for reflection, deep breathing, and a moment of much needed silence in this expressive album.

Having caught one’s breath, the baroque orchestral feel in ‘In the End We all Belong’, which is a more melodic, less frantic piece, suggests some resolution is finalising Mombelli’s spiritual search for those angels to counter the always pervasive demons.

Loop pedal repeats of the bass cast an illusory image in ‘The Ghost of Norcia’ and its ‘Part 2’ which ends the album. There is a haunting symbolism here as though those demons, seemingly revisited, are finally outcast. But are they?

This album leaves one wondering. Is the spiritual lost-and-found journey of life real or ever final? Listen carefully.

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Sibusiso Mashiloane Moves Jazz Closer to Home: CD Review

I always thought this Durban-based jazz piano composer, teacher, and performer, Sibusiso ‘Mash’ Mashiloane, was already pretty glued to ‘home’ ethnicities from which he derives his pride in studying and presenting South Africa’s musical demography.

In his most recent album, Closer to Home (2018), we hear how each hill that he traverses exudes its own musical dialects and landscape colours. Mash draws on creative spirits like the late greats of Winston Mankunku and Moses Molelekwa, and from other communities with whom he has stayed and shared, himself being a mix of influences among Ndebele, Pedi , Zulu, and Swazi, among others. Heritage and a place for safety and truth is ‘home’, as verbally announced in his first track. One starts with the indigenous longings. The album flows towards deeper identities, breaking any molds for specific types of jazz that has developed from past masters. Mashiloane holds truth with his chordal harmonic fifths, so prominent in the musical landscape.

Mash calls for relevancy and accuracy, which are essential criteria for him to choose the musicians featured on his album. He has done this masterfully, with the likes of spirited Nigerian guitarist, Kunle Ayo, percussionist Tlale Makhene, drummer Paki Peloeole, and bass guitarist Qhubekani Mthetwa. There is the brass section as well: Mthunzi Mvubu on saxophone, Thabo Sikhakhane on trumpet and Thembinkosi Ngcobo on trombone.

Elegance of tempo and message mark the delivery of this composer’s songs. “Naima” simply and softly conveys what’s hopeful and free, through the spoken word. Renditions from pianist Moses Molelekwa are evident throughout, as in “Molelekwa Spirt” and “Ke Mashiloane” with lots of chord structures and traditional sounds. Mash honours the jazz giants, as with Mankunku’s famous “Yakhal’ Nkomo”, and “African Heart” with shades of Zim Ngqawana’s spirit-bending.

It’s Makhene’s percussive presence that hits the heart, as in “Umthandazo”, another spoken word song with Mash’s soft chordal backing, and in “Naima”. Even a twisty “All Blues” honors Miles Davis as Mash uses the higher register of his keyboard to mimic Davis’ trumpet blues, with honesty and pride.

It is no wonder that Mashiloane will soon receive his Doctorate which focuses on South African music, and jazz in particular. His first two albums set the pace for digging deeper into those home roots, as in this third album.  Amanz’ Olwandle (2016) received two Mzanti Jazz Awards as best Contemporary Jazz Album (decided by a jury) and Best Jazz Album (voted for by the public).  His second album, Rotha – A Tribute to Mama (2017) , Mashiloane eloquently combines tradition with more universal jazz styles. What might his fourth album portray, one wonders? The roots wander far and wide, and his music will thus be endless and highly educational.

Album musicians:
Sibusiso Mashiloane – piano & keyboard
Kunle Ayo – guitar
Tlale Makhene – percussions
Paki Peloeole – drums
Qhubekani Mthetwa – bass guitar
Mthunzi Mvubu – saxophone
Thabo Sikhakhane – trumpet
Thembinkosi Ngcobo – trombone
Backing vocals…..

Mashiloane performs at the Muizenberg Jazz Festival on Friday, 16 November.

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Uhadi Traditional/Synth Modern – Lwanda Gogwana Expands Xhosa jazz

Trumpeter Lwanda Gogwana finds identity through his Xhosa roots in his latest album, Uhadi Synth’(2016).

Songs ring in his native tongue of isiXhosa as he probes cultural roots, deeply exhuming the mythical. A non-isiXhosa speaker won’t feel left out when Xhosa lyrics burst out….. there’s excitement in the presentation alone. In this album, the language of jazz is a language of moods, emotions, and joys energized through traditional modalities with twists of unheard-of improvisation. That’s what Uhadi Synth is: the traditional Xhosa single stringed mouth bow, called the ‘uhadi’, made popular by the late Nofinishi Dywili whom Godwana studied at University, juxtaposed with the modern electronic synthesizer instrument.

                     NofinshiDyaiwili

But you won’t hear the actual ‘Uhadi’, just it’s interpretation as story-telling messages by several vocalists, and harmonics by Kyle Shepherd’s piano with a repetitive lower registry.

Composer, arranger and producer, Lwanda Gogwana, has composed for a number of artists and bands in South Africa. But it’s this second album which pegs his own signature to a music he has been exploring since the beginning, starting with his first album, Songbook, Chapter 1, which addressed various influences on this young master’s growth.

Gogwana explains: It’s about finding identity, now that young Black South Africans have the freedoms` to explore, harvest, and proudly spread their cultural expressions through song.

Don’t feel confused why a synthesizer enters: Shepherd is a lover of synths; he has used them concurrently with piano to enforce his love of the indigenous ghoema music of historical slave days in the Cape areas and original Khoisan culture. For Shepherd, synthesizers have a way of ‘bending’ the sounds. For instance, in “Umculo”, Shepherd’s spirit-bending chords and characteristic ghoema twist resonate with gospel nuances. Then, add the influx and settlement of Xhosa people from parts east who settled in the Cape urban centers helps to gel these sounds we hear on this album. The listener gets carried through South African jazz Standards of earlier urban sounds into a melange of more contemporary expressions from youthful inputs: tradition – meets- funk.

Vocalists, like Sakhile Moleshe, offer warm, laid-back, jazzy scats to “Qula Kwedini” with big band swing styles of the classic 1940s urbanized African jazz, and audio pronouncements about stick fighting in the olden days of Xhosa tradition among boys and men.

A stunning piece, “Yibhluz”, and the only song on the album with lyrics, sees history meet the blues: how the sordid colonial history is delivered with a diplomatic wit, which raises issues of whether society now is mirroring its past grievances. Here is a reflective tradition-meets-blues as Gogwana skilfully weaves a dialogue around Zim Ngqawana-influenced pride in culture while youth are pulled towards the secular and mundane. Xonti’s sax brings this sultry mood and sarcasm across nicely, as do the vocalists.

Sisonke Xonti at NAF 2015

Shepherd’s piano and repetitive baseline holds the uhadi form on several songs, while Gogwana’s horn echoes conversations between the rolling Xhosa hills of his homeland in “Maqundeni”. He would call this ‘a swing feel in Xhosa’. This leads nicely into “Ndiyagoduka” (I’m going home), an upbeat improvisational song with lots of trumpet triple tonguing and that uhadi-like piano supported by Amaeshi Ikechi’s bass sound. The penetration by the horns exudes an energy that leaves one quite breathless at the end of this album.

Hear Gogwana perform at the Muizenberg Jazz Festival on Saturday, 17 November 2018 at 18.30 hours.

On the album:

Lwanda Gogwana – trumpet and fugelhorn

Kyle Shepherd – piano and synthesizer
Sisonke Xonti – sax
Amaeshi Ikechi – bass
Lungile Kunene – drums
Dumza Maswana – vocals
Sandile Maleshe – vocals

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CD Review by Eric Alan – Beverley Beirne with Jason Miles Jazz Just Wants To Have Fun (2018)

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Having stated my dislike “covers” in the previous review I must add that Jason Miles has done it once again by lending his considerable production, musical and arranging skills to Yorkshire based jazz vocalist Beverley Beirne who along with Jason Miles foray into the world 80’s pop anthems and turning the tunes into future jazz standards.

I must say on first glance at the track listing before listening to a track I didn’t want to like the album but on listening to it a couple of times it was a breath of fresh air and must state the I really like this album and hope there will be another in the same vain. Beverly has a pleasing voice and the interpretations and arrangements are killer.

The album titled Jazz Just Wants To Have Fun, released earlier this year, is what I believe needs be done when an artist decides to cover the classic pops songs of past generations, ok so these are from the 80’s Brit pop era, I mean after all the Great American Songbook came about because of the pop songs over the aeons. Now we have the beginnings of the Great British Songbook. I am very happy with the track listing and the songs covered, classic pop tunes of that decade, and what a cast of musical talent put together to create this, what I would like to call a tour de force. I don’t think anyone who took to and love the pop music of the 80’s will be unhappy with the treatment given these classics. I further think the songwriters will be exceedingly happy to bolster their pensions with the royalties derived from these wonderful re-interpretations of these 80’s classic anthems. Now that’s what I call a great “cover” album, and are the new standards of tomorrow.

How clever are you? Do you think you can you name the originators of all 12 tracks?

Track Listing:

  1. Cum On Feel The Noize (3.29)
  2. Prince Charming (2.40)
  3. Bette Davis Eyes (4.09)
  4. Ghost Town (3.30)
  5. Deeply Dippy (3.11)
  6. When Smokey Sings (6.58)
  7. Cruel Summer (3.04)
  8. Pop Muzik (4.50)
  9. Too Shy (2.39)
  10. Hot In The City (2.58)
  11. Waiting For A Girl Like You (4.56)
  12. Girls Just Want To Have Fun (2.29)

Musicians:

Beverley Beirne (vocals), Sam Watts (piano), Rob Hughes (saxophone/flute), Flo Moore (double bass), Ben Brown (drums), Romero Lubambo (guitar “Cruel Summer”); Dean Brown (guitar “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”); Jason Miles (Hammond B-3 organ “Deeply Dippy” and “Waiting For A Girl Like You.”)

Label: Nova/Universal.

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CD Review by Eric Alan – Rebecca Angel (Feat. Jason Miles) Album Title: What We Had (EP)

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I haven’t done a review for some while now and today I decided that it was time to concentrate on doing so once again. I hope that I’ll be able to write at least 3 add to our website page today.

Earlier this year I was contacted by Brooklyn born and New York resident, record producer, bandleader, musician, recording artist, composer, jazz pianist and keybordplayer, manic passionate music lover and friend Jason Miles, he asked if we would like to check out two of his latest productions. Naturally the answer was yes and he sent us the two albums, both of which featured two women vocalists who I had not yet heard of. The two young ladies are Rebecca Angel’s What We Had and Beverley Beirne’s, Jazz Just Wants To Have Fun both albums were immediately added to our playlists un-listened to, that’s how much I trust Jason’s work. Our presenters, including myself took immediate liking to both of the albums.

Rebecca Angel (Feat. Jason Miles) Album Title: What We Had (EP) Label: Timeless Grooves Records
Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Smooth Electro Pop & Latin Jazz / Vocals Total Time: 32:58 Year Of Release: 2018

This album comprises of 8 tracks and on first listen captured me as a listener, well, because I do have a penchant for vocals especially female vocals. Rebecca has a wonderful voice and tells each story in a fine and beautiful style through the album. The tunes chosen for this release come for the pens of some of the greatest songwriter’s of the world with one track written by Rebecca in collaboration with her Dad, Dennis Angel and the other with the addition of producer Jason Miles. Look at the list of incredible musicians assembled to perform on the album, just awesome.

There is one thing however I personally dislike with a passion and that is “covers”, now let me qualify that by stating when any musician covers a song and nothing has been done to refresh it and make it their own having just followed the dot’s on the original chart, it becomes boring and plain bloody awful. So leave that sort of thing to wedding bands and singers.

Thankfully this is not one of “those” albums, the production team has taken it to another level totally. I mean just listen to the first track on the album, Winter Moon written by Harold Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael shows the way and how to do a cover, this continues through each track through the album. Each track is has a fresh new feel to it and is a joy to listen to. So far I have listened to and played a multitude of times. Each time I hear something new in each of the arrangements throughout the EP, well done to one and all concerned and that you for creating a wonderful body of work. I can’t wait for the next album, and that it be a full one from this team of highly talented musicians.

Track listing:

  1. Winter Moon (5:13) written by Harold Adamson/ Hoagy Carmichael
  2. What We Had (3:52) written by Dennis Angel/ Rebecca Angel/ Jason Miles
  3. Agora Sim (3:15) written by Luiz Alves/ Luizão Paiva
  4. Feel Alive (3:51) written by Dennis Angel/ Rebecca Angel
  5. Stand By Me (4:04) written by Ben E. King/ Jerry Leiber/ Mike Stoller
  6. Jet Samba (Samba Jazz Happiness) (Radio Mix) (4:08) written by Ronaldo Bastos/ Marcos Valle
  7. Stand By Me (Electro Mix) (Bonus Track) (4:03) written by Ben E. King/ Jerry Leiber/ Mike Stoller
  8. Jet Samba (Samba Jazz Happiness) (Ipanema Mix) (Bonus Track) (4:30) written by Ronaldo Bastos / Marcos Valle

Musicians – Jason Miles keyboards, Fender Rhodes, Moog bass, pads and percussion – Denis Angel flugelhorn – Gotfried Stoger flute – Haily Niswanger soprano saxophone – Sebastian Stoger cello – Jonah Miles Prendergast guitar – Christian Ver Halen guitar – Ricardo Silveira acoustic rhythm guitar – James Genus acoustic bass – Reggie Washington bass – Adam Dorn bass – Mino Cinelu percussion – Cyro Baptista percussion – Brian Dunnie drums

 

 

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Jazz saxophonist/flautist Ivan Mazuze excels with Afro/Latin/Nordic storytelling in ‘Ndzuti’ (2012)

Saxophonist and flautist, Norway-based Ivan Mazuze, has chosen a stellar set of international musicians who journey with him in his 2012 album, Ndzuti, which means ‘shadow’ in the ancient language of Xichangana of Mazuze’s native southern Mozambique.

This album has elements from both southern and West African traditions with Jazz based structures, suggesting how widely Mazuze extends his sounds while fusing northern European tonalities as well. His fellow African and Norwegian musicians reside in Scandinavian countries with guest artists like Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and the bassist/ vocalist from Ivory Coast, Manou Gallo, adding loads of sonic colour.

Mazuze’s other albums on his EM label have met with great success also: His debut album Maganda (2009) brings out his ethnomusicology training, reflecting on an exploratory journey with African ‘worlds’ of music. His articles about music and trance in ritual practices are found in the educational magazine “The Talking Drum”. Maganda was awarded the Best Afro World Group in the Oslo World Music Festival 2009, and the Best Contemporary Jazz Album at SAMA awards 2010 (South African Music awards). Mazuze’s third album, Ubuntu (2015) became highly acclaimed within the Nordic media circles and features Norwegian and South African-based musicians.

But its Ndzuti that grabbed my best ear. It was the recommended album at African Jazz Network 2012 and hailed as a key album by Music Information Center Norway (MIC) in 2012. Besides these cudos, it’s the songs themselves that shine out Mazuze’s careful melodics, zappy rhythms, and ethnic understandings of a society’s musical wizardry. He includes soukous rhythms the Congo, always full of glee and gay, danceable swings, as in “Nwana wa ku kasa” which features his Norwegian sax wife and fellow student during Capetown days, Ragnhild Tveitan, also in backing vocals. Vocalist and bass player from Ivory Coast, Manou Gallo, noted for her ‘Afro-groove’ renditions and for playing her bass like a percussion instrument, enthralls. Born in 1972, Gallo plays the tambour (percussion drums ), normally only reserved and allowed for men to play in the Ivorian culture.

Manou Gallo, vocalist and bassist

Raised by her grand-mother who was looking after her like her own daughter, Manou was rather autonomous from early on. Her newest album, “AFRO GROOVE QUEEN” is a musical love triangle and adventure between Africa, Europe and America.   Gallo helps Mazuze focus his funk, jazz and Afro groove sounds in delightfully lyrical songs that could have a healing quality to the ultra-stressed.

Hanne Tveter, Norwegian singer

One can even hear some influences from raising his two small daughters, and from the Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, or the Latin swing of Nordic singer Hanne Tveter. ‘Celina” is admirably melodious. In ‘Chant des Immigrants’, phrases are heard that come from Norwegian improvisational influences, as per Tveitan’s sax, as well as African beats from Mazuze’s home areas of Mozambique and South Africa. ‘Pe Descalco’ features Tveter’s masterful vocal scat which also provides a breathy and enticing bid in ‘Ritmo de la Vida’, with its distinct Latin salsa and bossa nova. Mazuze’s added boppish sax makes this song one of the most grabbing on the album.

Omar Sosa

Rhythmic Afro and Latin grooves abound. ‘Conversations’ and ‘Nguni’ features Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, the latter song with Nigerian high life rhythm reminiscent of Fela Kuti, with shades of Sosa’s Cuban swing thrown in! This is a bouncy piece, similar to Mazuze’s consistent style of fusing Afro-influenced sounds. ‘Mosambik’ is played in a Mozambique groove characteristic of Mazuze’s usual improv voicings. Another Oslo resident, Trinidadian singer/actor Sheldon Blackman, provides backing vocals with Mazuze’s storytelling sax in ‘Ma’gogo’.

Sidiki Camara percussion

All percussion comes from Sidiki Camara from Mali who plays djembe, doundounds, and ‘talking drums’.

 

So after all these wonderful sonic tonics whirling about, the catchy sing-along tune ‘Satyagraha’ ends the album, with ears aching for more! This is Ivan Mazuze and his crew at their very creative best.

See him perform at the upcoming Muizenberg Jazz Festival on Saturday, November 17, at the Masque Theater with local musicians. https://muizenbergjazzfestival.com/event/ivan-mazuze/

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Unusual Gigs Open Eyes on Exciting Musical Collaborations

A week of not-the-usual-fare of musical offerings from bands which consider themselves of ‘mixed’ influences kicked off with the  launch of Mike Rossi’s ‘Journey’ album, The World, rather, seemed to be depicted sonorously and joyfully by all groups that followed their musical themes throughout the week.

Mike Rossi on flute: courtesy Jazz Connection Kaye

Rossi started the live band wagon with local musicians, some who had featured on his chatty album, like trombonist William Haubrich, drummer Kevin Gibson, and pianist bop artist, Andrew Ford along with Rossi’s multiple instruments, saxes and flute.

Lorenzo Blignaut

But it was the performance of young former-Delft Big Band, Lorenzo Blignaut, on flugelhorn that stole the show. His grooming by former Band leader and trumpeter, Ian Smith, has payed off handsomely from teenage years; Blignaut is dedicated and largely self-taught, mentored of course by the greats. Had the lighting effects been better, photographers would have flocked to this popular bakery-cum-jazz venue to catch various band wizards which Slow Life brings in, consistently and faithfully, in order to grow jazz and its various forms in this peninsular community.

Mid-week, Ancient Agents, a poly-rhythmic, multi-percussive group, performed at the vibey Café Roux’s Capetown branch on Shortmarket Street, before their travel to Madagascar for a popular music Festival.

Fredrick Gille, percussion; Schalk Joubert, guitar

Ronan Skillan’s hand-made slide metal didgeridoo expertly accompanied by Swedish cajon box beater and frame drum specialist, Fredrik Gille, brought eerie ancient and earthy sounds that made drinks rattle. Schalk Joubert’s electric bass foundations often echoed Reza Khota’s guitar conversations, making this evening’s event electric, different, and fulfilling.   http://www.alljazzradio.co.za/2017/09/20/primordial-and-polyrhythmic-ancient-agents-is-a-percussion-delight/

Musicians enjoy Café Roux – it’s obvious. Eat some yummy pizza or light dishes first before the show, then relax back to a sound quality experience and dreamy decorum with an appreciative audience. Although Ancient Agents musicians focus on ‘jazz’, their improvisations cut across ancestral and traditional folk lines that are always pleasing. As is the venue!  Oh, and yes, the venue introduces the band, and softly reminds the patrons to keep chatting volumes low in order to appreciate the musical offerings. Woe to the many other venues who simply don’t care about the music!

By Friday, another Slow Life-sponsored group hit town:  SULP* (Swiss Urban Landler Passion) intrigued music students and fans at a College of Music concert with their enigmatic sounds that draw out folk life in an increasingly urbanizing Switzerland, yet stay true to tradition, the ‘Landler’ folk music. Featuring the concertina instrument, with its diatonic buttons on one side, and chromatic buttons on the other side, and a 4 metre long ‘Alp Horn’ blown, or rather breath-caressed like a didgeridoo with a French horn twist, and several other more ‘modern’ instruments, like the saxophone and double bass, SULP swung into rapturous waltzes and polka moods, reminiscent of music played in the popular film, ‘Sound of Music’.  The alpine terrain comes to life, as did this recital hall with students looking for the familiar.  Homegrown South Africans, Trumpeter Marcus Wyatt, and guitarist Derek Gripper added their individual mixes of African and a bit of Nordic influences.  As SULP says, “Swiss folk music, in its contemporary form, did not emerge in the countryside but was invented by industrial workers in the fast growing urban centers re-imagining their rural origins in the rapidly changing world.”

SULP play at 4 other venues this weekend.

*Simon Dettwiler (conertina), Matthias Gubler (saxophone) and Hannes Fankhauser (Alp Horn, double bass)

 

 

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Tabla rock and Indian jazz fusion by AVATAAR hits Kalk Bay’s Olympia Bakery

They looked oddly rested after 25 flight hours, landing in Cape Town a few hours before their sound check for the evening’s concert at Kalk Bay’s popular Olympia Bakery-turned-jazz –club-at-night.  The Toronto-based AVATAAR sextet arrived for their first African performance, which should not be their last.

Coming from ethnically seasoned backgrounds, including southern India and Italy, these Canadians presented a rare treat of sounds for this peninsula community, a mix of tabla-inspired blues cooked with a sometimes acid-rock guitar groove, then a Coltrane-influenced alto sax complemented  with Indian scat of vocalist, Suba Sankaran.

Sundar Viswanathan: courtesy ratspace

Their jazz fused improvisation with varieties of world sonic motifs, playing off the compositions of sax/flute band leader, Sundar Viswanathan’s debut album, Petal (2015).  Named for flowers that show their beautiful bloom for a short time, then disappear; thus the ephemeral nature of existence,  impermanence.

The generous 100 minute performance was electric – a sitar-sounding guitarist, Michael Occhipinti who carries Sicilian accents of heritage wedded so perfectly with the raga nuances provided by Ravi Naimpally’s tabla and Haiku speaking bassist, George Koller. While one often associates Indian classical music with spirituality, the divine touch heard on this night felt more like a sitar-rock meeting contemporary jazz styles with cross-overs into funk and melodic ballads.  These eclectic band members each boast musical accolades and awards across the Canadian music spectrum, and deservedly, needed to visit the finest of South Africa’s jazz traditions coincidentally during Heritage celebrations.  Or was it a coincidence?  Their three-city tour this week (September 22-30, 2018) takes them to other heritage sites of Durban and Pretoria, besides Capetown.

Ravi Naimpally

Befittingly, talking about ‘heritage’, AVATAAR’s performance cleverly highlighted some of the immigrant musical backgrounds of the musicians, thanks to Viswanathan’s Tamil influences. Such compositions from Petal include reference to South Asian contexts like tsunamis in “Banda Aceh” with staccato taka taka vocals of Naimpally, or storms in “Monsoon”.  Long influenced by Brazil’s Antonio Carlos Jobim, Viswanathan infuses Brazilian rhythms for effect, and has even mastered Portugese in order to explore wider cultural circles.

But unlike the ending song on the album, “Petal (emphemerata)” with spoken word philosophies about the purpose of existence supported by one’s spirituality, AVATAAR chose to honour a South African jazz legend’s composition, Abdullah Ibrahim’s “Mannenberg”.  What ensued was a frolicking jazz rock heightened by tabla and drums as the familiar song swung through its cadences and rhythms in true South African style.  Now that was a highlight of the evening!      https://www.facebook.com/neil.frye.71/videos/10156676818712152/

Their South African tour was made possible by Canada’s Council for the Arts and Paul Bothner music providing the baseline instruments. Event manager Paul Kahanowitz had met Viswanathan a year ago, and managed to pull this group to our shores.  Applause to all.

Further information from Sundar Viswanathan at sundar@sundarmusic.com;  +1-416 994 0758

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Musical Influences abound in Saxophonist Mike Rossi’s “Journey” album (2018)

‘Journey’, which follows on ‘Take Another Five’ (2016) dedicated to Nelson Mandela and Dave Brubeck, explodes with a range of musical styles that depict multi-instrumentalist Mike Rossi’s interpretation of country, ethnic, and musical influences over his forty year dance in jazz. It is a compositional delight!

There’s a lot of Italian in this album, from low-highs to happy-sad emotions framed with impressive solos and well-coordinated horn harmonies.  Horns predominate amongst stunning solos of Andrew Ford’s piano and organ, as well as Kevin Gibson’s drums, and Wesley Rustin’s boppish double bass.  I get a bit nervous when multiple horns play in unison, often wah wah-ing over more delicate rhythms or wind instruments.  But Rossi offers mercy as his six  cherished hand-made Rampone & Cassani saxophones  gently flow through sonic themes, as in the masterful composition, Big Sax,  Conversations between  Marco Maritz’s fugelhorn and Rossi’s altello sax delight the ear.  The South African swing in KwaZulu Zam Sam covers pretty much all the talents of horn and rhythm players without overpowering.

‘Journey’ band members

Faithful to his Italian-American background, some pieces were written under the influence: Ciao Roma; Don’t Say Lazio! opens with a wistful alto flute followed by charming Latin beats of Rossi’s tenor sax and expressive drum and piano solos. Alpe Camasca, Italy commemorates a frequently visited area, home to the R&C saxophone factory. Nine movements pull the listener through different time signatures making for unexpected  moods and twists.  A tribute to snails with red wine in Cucciulitti-Snails of Fermo surprisingly features Rossi’s baritone sax and William Haubrich’s trombone, two unlikely sonic registers for such a small animal.

Family and friends are referenced in such American jazz Standard renditions as Star Dust which Rossi’s late mother loved, and to the Hilda’s of Norway in Lars Jansson’s composition, Hilda, where Rossi’s soprano sax speaks kindly about his friendships there.

Rossi stays faithful to his flutes, particularly stylishly overdubbed in the beautiful Chuck Mangione song Land of Make Believe with Rustin’s bass grounding the basic bop mixed with Latin. Never forgetting how early American jazz included the clarinet, the swing classic Shiny Stockings arranged in quartet form pulls melody and rhythm nicely together in true Count Basie style. Ford’s piano  runs are exquisite throughout.

Humour abounds:  if there’s any way to portray nausea musically, Greasy Pan Blues does it! A really fun Rossi piece, indeed.

The album ends with the well-known South African classic composition of the late Chris Ngcukana, Mra, skilfully opened by Westin’s bass which swings the band into that familiar groove, and makes one still calling out for more.  South Africa is home to the Rossi family, and one wonders what the next musical ‘Journey’  will sound like in the next decade.  I wait, enthusiastically!

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CD Review by Eric Alan – Judi Silvano & The Zephyr Band Lessons Learned (2018)

You know this album has been a bit perplexing for me to write about, it has taken me weeks to do and listen to, it has moved my thoughts and memories in countless directions. Judi Silvano’s words awaken so much of a life lived, sometimes well and um, sometimes not so well. I was forced into a corner and felt the need to listen to her very thought provoking lyrics extremely carefully. The album has become somewhat of an intense catharsis on a personal level whilst listening intently. Today, I thought I should read the PR blurb that accompanied the album by publicist Lydia Liebman, something that I don’t usually do before I start listening to and writing a review. After careful reading thought that I could not do any better therefore decided to include the full blurb. All I can say is I like the album and it has now become a permanent fixture on my iPhones playlist.

“Judi’s compositions are like her paintings – Magical!” Sheila Jordan, NEA Jazz Master

Unit Records is proud to release Judi Silvano’s new album Lessons Learned today, Friday, July 13th. Produced by Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano, Lessons Learned features the members of Silvano’s Zephyr Band with an unusual lineup for a jazz singer: two electric guitars.  These are wielded by Kenny Wessel and Bruce Arnold who together provide orchestral settings for the songs. The band is rounded out with Adam Kolker on bass clarinet, soprano and tenor sax, Ratzo B. Harris on bass, Bob Meyer on drums and Todd Isler on percussion. Joe Lovano lends his signature sound on tenor sax to two tracks. Lessons Learned began as a mature musical compilation of personal observations on life and love, but has since developed into a statement that aims to evoke a feeling of universal understanding and respect for others amongst its listeners.

“This is one of the most inspired and fun recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of; it’s full of beautiful, joyous music!” – Joe Lovano

Judy & Joe

Parallel to Lovano’s adventurous arrangements, Judi’s writing varies from tender and spiritual to raucous and whimsical. On Lessons Learned, the vocalist – who is also credited for the painting that graces the album cover – is not afraid to bare her heart and sing of intimacy and she tackles the realities of aging with hilarious candor. There comes a point in anyone’s life that is a place of reflection; a review of a lifetime’s worth of choices and decisions. For Silvano, this point in her life marked the creation of Lessons Learned. This 10 track opus of original songs is a collection of stories from the singer’s life that have accumulated and resulted in lessons she has personally learned. By reflecting upon her own individual experiences, Silvano has been observing the consciousness of society as a whole and hopes her perspective will encourage empathy in others towards their communities.

The album opens with “Round and Round”, which is Judi’s statement of appreciation and wonder at her own life. The song’s canonic structure parallels the cycles of life. While “You Will Know” speaks to the interpersonal connections that can have an impact on how we feel about ourselves with encouragement to remember we are not alone, “Dark Things” is about self-doubt, and how even the most confident people periodically question and re-evaluate their paths. “Acknowledging our vulnerability is key to being able to adapt and grow,” says Judi. “Dust” finds Judi in shamanic mode, singing about the earth, our dependence on it for food and how rhythmic feels connect us all over the globe. Some other stand-out tracks from the album include “Hand and Heart” – a beautiful ballad about a very particular relationship – and “After Love” which, simply put, is a classic love song. The album closes with “The Music’s in My Body”, which demonstrates that Judi’s sense of rhythm and space from her years as a dancer, are always a part of her songs.

“Judi Silvano is an amazing vocalist and improviser who has been a mainstay on the New York Jazz scene for decades! Her communication with guitarists Bruce Arnold and Kenny Wessel on “Lessons Learned” is telepathic and the music they create is fresh and inspiring!” -Vic Juris, Guitarist and Educator

MORE ABOUT JUDI SILVANO
Judi Silvano has been an active presence in the New York Jazz scene since 1976, when she arrived in New York City from Philadelphia with a degree in music and dance from Temple University. Since then the roster of musicians with whom she has collaborated includes Kenny Werner, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, George Garzone, Mike Formanek, Gerry Hemingway, Michael Abene, Rufus Reid, Ingrid Jensen, Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Paul Motian, Manny Albam, Gunther Schuller and Wynton Marsalis. She’s performed at a multitude of festivals and concert houses around the globe including the Montreal, Paris, London, Verona, Perugia, Istanbul, Langnau Switzerland and North Sea Jazz Festivals as well as numerous clubs and concert halls in NYC. Silvano has been writing music and poetry her whole life alongside putting her visions on canvas – one of her paintings is the album cover of Lessons Learned and she has a series of paintings of Jazz Musicians in addition to other subjects.

More information at www.judisilvano.com


Have a great week, stay tuned, more coming your way

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Artist of the Week – Victor Mhleli Ntoni

by Simon Ndlovu

Victor Mhleli Ntoni was born in 1947 in Langa, Cape Town, he grew up in the townships of Cape Town and first learned to play guitar before switching to double bass. As a teenager, he played with McCoy Mrubata in his band The Uptown sextet. He was self-taught before he received a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1976.

As musical director of the musical Meropa Ntoni went on a European tour in 1975. Through the drummer Nelson Magwaza he met Abdullah Ibrahim, on whose album Peace and other recordings he was involved with between 1971 and 1979. He formed a sextet with Kippie Moeketsi, before going to study at Berklee School of Music, and played with Dudu Pukwana in 1978 (Diamond Express) and in 1979 with Hugh Masekela, also writing compositions including “Nomalizo”. Furthermore, Ntoni worked for Mike Ratau Mkhalemele, Iconoblast and Ezra Ngcukana.

In the late 1980s, Ntoni was the musical director of the Carling Circle of Jazz festival.

Ntoni’s album Heritage (2004) received excellent reviews and was nominated in the category “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” for the South African Music Award (SAMA).

He wrote and arranged the music in The South African Songbook -. SA Folklore Music (National Heritage Council, 2012).

In 2014 Ntoni was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in silver.[ – wikiArtist

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Feeling Really Pekkish Munchie Recipe

Recipe begged, borrowed, compiled and adapted by The Klutz in the Kitchen on The Jazz Rendezvous Jazz, Blues, Latin, World Jazz and Cabaret, Music & Musicians, Entertainers, Artisanal Booze & Beer, Cocktails, Pinotage, Coffee, Grub & Stockvel Radio Show

All Jazz Radio proud winner of the 2018/19 Mzantsi Jazz Award as the Best Radio Station Playing Jazz in South Africa

It’s a good day to celebrate with some melted gooey cheesy goodness today because it’s Welsh Rarebit (Rabbit) Day. We have to thank the Nibble website for a wee bit of the history and recipe for this crowd pleasing munch.

People have been gobbling up melted cheese for a very long time. Fondue, the best-known of Swiss dishes, is probably of peasant origin, but no one knows for how long traveling herders had been combining cheese with wine in their cooking pots and dipping bread into the mixture. Similarly, quesadillas, a Mexican tradition, have been eaten for longer than anyone can say.

Rabbit, Not Rarebit

The once-famous Welsh rabbit (please don’t call it “rarebit”) is a very old formulation. There isn’t much agreement on how Welsh rabbit might have gotten its name, but my favorite story is that sharp cheese melted into ale or beer, served over crisp toast, was a substitute for meat when the men had been unsuccessful in their hunting that day. It was left to the women to fix a meal, and I wouldn’t doubt, some clever woman came up with the name.

Welsh Rabbit Recipe

Welsh rabbit is similar to fondue, except that the melted cheese is poured over toast instead of dipping bread chunks into a pot of melted cheese.

Preparation time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 2

Stuff to throw it together

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

⅓ cup milk

½ cup beer or ale

1 teaspoon dry mustard

¼ teaspoon each cayenne pepper and paprika

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1½ cups sharp Cheddar, shredded

1 egg yolk

4 slices bread for toast

Optional: sliced tomato Optional garnishes: fresh snipped chives or thyme

How to cook it up

NB You can use any semi-hard cheese, or a blend. Like fondue, Welsh rabbit is a great way to use up scraps of cheese. Preparation

We like rye toast or whole grain toast because of the added flavor; but use whatever bread you have

Melt butter in a sauce pan over low heat; whisk in flour until smooth and simmer roux for two minutes

Whisk in milk, then beer. You can use leftover beer: The effervescence cooks out. The more flavorful the beer, the better the dish

AAdd cayenne, mustard and paprika one at a time, whisking until smooth. Add Worcestershire sauce and whisk to combine

Whisk in Cheddar, 20% at a time, and blend until smooth

Remove pan from flame; whisk in egg yolk for extra richness and body

Place two pieces of toast on each plate. Top with tomato slices. Pour cheese sauce over toast. Garnish with herbs. Who needs a real rabbit: This “poor man’s supper” is delicious!

Pizza

The ancestor the pizza we know and love today, melted cheese on bread was probably being enjoyed by the Etruscans, Greeks or Phoenicians as early as the 700s – B.C.E. (Tomato sauce didn’t arrive until the 1800s.) Clearly, much of the world has had a love affair with melted cheese for many hundreds of years. Food history aside, a melted cheese dish on a blustery, cold day is as satisfying for the soul as it is for the appetite. With a little care, melting
Have a cooking day

Today is also Baby Back Ribs Day Here are five things to know about baby back ribs:

No one is really sure where the term barbecue originated. The conventional wisdom is that the Spanish, upon landing in the Caribbean, used the word barbacoa to refer to the natives’ method of slow-cooking meat over a wooden platform.

In America barbecue varies by region, with the four main styles named after their place of origin: Memphis, Tenn.; North Carolina; Kansas City; and Texas.

In order to be called “baby back ribs” the rack needs to be smaller than a pound and a half.

Pigs have 14 rib bones! They are divided into four popular cuts: spare ribs, St. Louis, rib tips and baby backs.

No one knows who invented the barbecue.

Buon Appetito

The Klutz in the Kitchen

Chief Grub Maker, Recipe Initiator, Adroit Glühwein Fixer and Imbiber, Devoted Coffee Slurpee, Artisanal Booze & Craft BeerQuaffing Enthusiast and Pinotage Aficionada

Email: The Klutz in the Kitchen


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Struan Douglas Journeys with Ubuntu Healing through Music

“Towards the Peace on Earth: Projections Manifest” (published by www.afribeat.com, 2018) is an engaging account of one man’s journey of healing, with upfront honesty and attempted enlightenment through a rebirth into Ubuntu Africa from European roots.  Struan Douglas, an arts journalist and musician, portrays a fascinating, yet mysterious, plunge into the spirituality surrounding the music industry in South Africa, and why all is not always rosy in the perceived healing abilities of this  art form.

Douglas’s own contentious struggle with a severe illness in his youth, compounded by insecurities, outrages, and inferiority complexes, found  amazing portals of resolve, as his pathways crossed with innovative and intuitively spiritual music producers.  Shamanic healing brought the light of love onto the Cullinan farm outside of Johannesburg, affectionately dubbed the University of Celebration, where Douglas lived out his post-traumatic syndrome with an eccentric Frenchman, ‘Ananda’, and an inventive Swiss music producer, Robert Trunz.  Together, with  an additional eco-healer and photographer, Lianne, the foursome worked the land as Trunz established a music studio where a host of well-known, predominately African musicians engaged with each other to move their artistry forward.  A healing in music took place through Trunz’s music label, MELT2000, and writer/musician Douglas found a much needed home in this Musical Energy Loud Truth space.

Or so it seems.

Struan Douglas

Unsuspectingly, the story leads into dark passages to reveal truths:  gory outcomes  as some musicians submit to too much stress;  a realisation that jazz may not heal, but do the opposite. Douglas sites examples where the creative wizardry succumbs to devilish forces:  like the deaths of pianist Moses Molelekwa and saxophonist Moses Khumalo, where mental illness, drugs, and other demons can take hold.  Even the central character of this book, the Buddhist inspired ‘Ananda’, born Andre Masset, and raised in a French orphanage, and found his way into a California prison for 14 years for drug trafficking, surprises the reader with his supposed transformation  through African shamanic healing. Here, Douglas becomes his disciple, finding wisdom and healing in his ‘master’s’ spiritual stewardship, until an enormous anger streak  totally absorbs Ananda’s psyche and soul, and leads to the demise of this Osho-influenced self-designed healer.  Trunz on the other hand invents and promotes sound technologies, namely audio speakers, in Switzerland and the UK, and brings them to the Cullinan farm.  When he falls ill, the farm becomes a short-lived ecological experiment with notable outcomes, but is resuscitated as a musical hub when Trunz returns.  During all of these transmutations of energy and purpose, Douglas is still faced with quo vadis issues, and this is what grabs the reader.  Uncertainties circulate through the enigmas of life.

This book touches the unavoidable real by opening our minds to what constitutes the ‘void’, from entering disorientation that can manipulate the mind,  to experiencing the beauties of Ubuntu love and respect found on the African continent.  Douglas uses the metaphorical ‘fifth’ to explain:  “As the fifth in music harmonically divides the octave, so the fifth dimension in Spiritual terms co-creates.” (p. 113)  The Cullinan farm and its various inhabitants provided this ‘nature spirit’ space  where African griots, drummers, trance-dancers of the Kalahari, and other newer students of sound in his Forest Jam project could co-create.  By 2015, Douglas found a new journey, having manifested projections involving a vast healing from this previous trip through the 1980s to the present.

Madala Kunene

 

One of these manifestations was how guitarist Madala Kunene mentored Douglas to revive his trumpet playing skills.   A very readable story, the reader goes away amazed, with a revived spirit that co-creation in music can indeed find causes of illness, and bring joy, growth, and healing to the collective consciousness.

In this lies the enigma of music.

Buy the book online through Lulu or kindle versions, or weblog.

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Pianist Adrian Iaies adds Argentinian jazz pazzaz at NAF Youth Jazz Festival 2018!

Adrian Iaies at Standard Bank National Arts Festival 2018 in South Africa

With a career stretching back more than 30 years, and 25 albums as a band leader, and more than 300 concerts all over the world, Argentinian jazz pianist Adrian Iaies is just plain hard to describe.  His exhausting list of awards and accomplishments would woo any jazz lover to his musical haven.  But it’s listening to his sometimes quirky technique, sometimes mournful and romantic moods, his slow fox trots and ballads, and then bursts of emotional tango beats and all-that-swing, all with an improvisational twist of notes, chords, and harmonics, that intrigues.  Born in Buenos Aires in 1960, Iaies landed (July 2018) in South Africa’s National Arts Festival heartland of Grahamstown, now renamed Makhanda, his first SA visit, to bless patrons with his brand of jazz.

Percussionist Facundo Guevara – FB

 

His Colegiales Quartet was made up of the illustrious percussionist, Facundo Guevara, bandoneon player Federico Siksnys, and young double-bassist Diana Arias who is originally from Colombia.  It was bassist Arias whose performance outranked many seasoned professionals with her very pronounced and fast paced runs and solos with a variety of classical American, South American, and African beats.

Diana Maria Arias atNAF 2018-Standard Bank

Can the Tango have a jazz ‘swing’?  You bet.  This NAF performance proved that the classic tango rhythms can and do manoeuvre into other sound spaces.

Iaies, who is also the Artistic Director for the annual Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival as well as the Director of one of the city’s finest cultural centers, La Usina del Arte, considers himself first and foremost an improvisational jazz pianist. His many albums cut across various genres of ‘world’, including Argentinian folkloric, European classical, and Latin music. From traditional bluesy swing of early American jazz to Strayhorn moods to tango-esque styles to funky rhythms which remind one of Oscar Petersen’s occasional break with tradition to John Coltrane’s broken off-beats, there’s something to please most listening ears.

* * * * * * *

I caught up with Iaies during one of his breaks from workshops and rehearsals which occupied his, and all other illustrious teaching musicians’, time at this bustling Standard Bank Youth Jazz Festival, a welcomed part of the NAF that brings some 350 music students from all over South Africa to study, jam, and perform with another 150 professional local and international jazz musicians.

Tango Reflections

Vals de la 81st & Columbia (2008)

CM:  Let’s talk about how you relate with the South African jazz sound.  What has been your impression about what you’ve heard so far?

AI:   I come from a classical music heritage through my mother but I also listened to jazz artists, like John Lewis and Duke Ellington growing up.  I love the small groups, not the big bands.  I discovered African music later because the first artists I brought to the Buenos Aires international jazz festival was Randy Weston.  I had attended his gig in New York to check out if he was in good health to travel 14 hours to Argentina.  He was in his mid 80s then.  My first pick, however, for that festival, was Dollar Brand.  I have no special approach in African music.  My main teacher has been my drummer, Fecundo, because he has a special interest in the global music.  I’m also now looking at including South African jazz at the BA international jazz festival this year!  I would also love to return back here to record with local artists.

CM:  Piazzolla Escalandrum band performed in Cape Town a while back. Its leader, Daniel Piazzolla, said he was tired of the tango in its traditional form and wanted to move it forward.

AI:  Yes, people talked about Aster Piazzolla’s music like it was a step toward jazz.  His traditional music had nothing to do with jazz.   Juan Carlos Cobian* music is the closest to my favourite composer, Billy Strayhorn.  There’s the same sophistication, harmony, and chromatic sounds, ….   The traditional music has common points with this because the repertoire includes great sounds, great harmony, ….  You can play the traditional Tango in the same way you play songs by Irving Berlin …. Because it’s rhythmic music.

CM:  In South Africa, there is a continual debate about what is “South African jazz”.  It boils down to cultural roots.

AI:  We were just talking about this with Thandi Ntuli.  I told her she has one tight band.  They are patient.  They take their time to reach the climax.  They [South African musicians] are very kind people so their culture speaks through the music.

CM:  When I listen to Brazilian music, with its mixtures, like in Argentina with Spanish and indigenous sounds, etc, I get a sense of the frantic, the dance type of music, that’s very lively.

AI:   In the workshops, the student asked some very smart questions about these mixtures, like how do you learn music. The important thing is the musical form and rhythms, and where the composers come from, like from sub-tropical climates or freezing south pole areas.  In our workshop, we spoke about the three main groups of people in Argentina: one which stems from the indigenous Inca people, then the people in the eastern part of the country stemming from the Europeans, and then the group mixed with Africans.

CM:  That’s quite a variety of influences, then, in your own jazz……

IA: We as musicians need to understand these different regions. That’s why I experiment a lot with my drummer, Facundo, who comes from Mendoza, because he has a wide exposure to different world regions.  Also, how do you learn music?  Through oral traditions. There’s no self-taught musician. We learn from others and traditions, what’s around us.  This is very important.

CM:  Explain further.

AI:  Fecundo is a very good teacher.  When we leave Argentina to perform elsewhere, we notice how people behave in their countries. This is very educational.  But when I return to Buenos Aires, I need some days to get used to BA again.   Elsewhere, I see everyone is smiling, but back in BA, it’s not like that- it’s more black and white, more dark than light.

* * * * * * *

At this point, the piano was being tuned in the hall where we were chatting. Iaies volunteered to test it out, thus leaving our cozy chat, while Facundo and I continued.  Facundo added, “I grew up looking to Africa as I understood this was the source, so this is my first trip to Africa.  With my background in Argentinian folkloric percussion, I understand African rhythms.”  We spoke about how Africans and other South Africans had latched onto American jazz, pop and the Blues during the Apartheid era, and how this has influenced South African jazz compositions.

* * * * * *

The Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival, which Iaies has run as Director since 2007, is scheduled  from 14 – 19 November 2018.

* Juan Carlos Cobián (1888–1942), an Argentine bandleader and tango composer, led the “evolutionary” tendency in tango which was perceived as tending to concert music than to traditional dance music. As a composer, he and Enrique Delfino paved the road for the road for avant-garde tango.  To this extent, Cobián was such an evolutionist that the publishers did not accept his early tangos because they regarded them as ‘wrongly composed’. The truth is that they were far beyond the popular music of the time. (from  https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Carlos_Cobi%C3%A1n)

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Feeling Really Pekkish Munchie Recipe

Recipe begged, borrowed, compiled and adapted by The Klutz in the Kitchen

All Jazz Radio proud winner of the 2018/19 Mzantsi Jazz Award as the Best Radio Station Playing Jazz in South Africa

Here is the recipe for the G & T Cake furbished to us by Steve Erlank of the Deep South Distillery when he was with us in the studio last Wednesday. He has also said he’s going to try to adapt a cheese cake recipe to make a G & T Cheese cake, looking forward to your attempt Steve. It is somewhat complicated even The Klutz in the Kitchen has some difficulty with baking, not being a pastry chef. Have a go and let us know the outcome of your baking efforts.

Gin & Tonic Cake

Recipe byElena Silcock with acknowledgements to BBC Good Food

Preparation time: 60 min

Cooking time: 45 min, plus chilling time

Serves: 12 to 15

 

Stuff to throw it together

250g Salted butter

325g Caster sugar

4 eggs

250g self-raising flour

75g full cream/double-cream Greek yoghurt

Juice of 2 lemons

100 ml Deep South Ruby Gin (the more aromatic the gin, the better)

For the Syrup

100ml tonic water

1 teaspoon of juniper berries (lightly crushed) (For a deeper G&T flavor)

20ml of tonic syrup, obtainable from most bottle stores

For the icing

200g softened butter

400g icing sugar

2 Tablespoons of milk

Zest of 2 lemons

For decoration

2 limes zested then cut into thin slices (or slices of glazed citrus)

¼ cucumber, peeled into ribbons

1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar

A few juniper berries

How to cook it up

Heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line 2 x 20cm cake tins.

Beat together the butter and 200g of the sugar until pale and fluffy, for around 5 mins

Add the eggs one by one, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next one. If the mixture looks like it might split, add a tablespoon of your flour, then fold in the rest of the flour

Mix the yoghurt with the juice of one of the lemons and half the Deep South Ruby Gin, and then add this to the cake mixture to make a thick and silky mixture

Split the mixture between the cake tins and bake for 35 mins until a skewer comes out clean

Make the syrup

This is where most of the G&T flavours are found!

While the cake is baking, dissolve the remaining sugar, tonic syrup (if you have), tonic water and juice of one lime over medium heat in a saucepan, with lightly crushed juniper berries added

Once the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil and reduce for 5-7 mins until you have a thick syrup

Cool for 5 mins, strain then stir in the remaining Deep South Ruby Gin and set aside

Once cake is baked, allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then prick all over with a skewer and liberally spoon syrup over the cake

Make the icing

Allow cake to cool completely before icing.

Make the buttercream icing by beating butter until soft, then fold in icing sugar a bit at a time

Add milk and lemon zest and lend well

Cover one cake with a third of the icing, and place second cake on top.

Cover whole cake in thin layer of icing and place in fridge for 30 mins to make the final coating easier to do.

Coat top and sides of cake with remaining icing

Decorate with sprinkles of lemon zest, lime and cucumber twists

Happy Baking

The Klutz in the Kitchen

Chief Grub Maker, Recipe Initiator, Adroit Glühwein Fixer and Imbiber, Devoted Coffee Slurpee, Artisanal Booze & Craft Beer Quaffing Enthusiast and Pinotage Aficionada

Email: The Klutz in the Kitchen


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The Klutz in the Kitchen’s Drinks, Beverage ‘n Cocktails Recipe to enjoy with Friends

The Pinotage, Artisanal Booze, Beer & Spirits, Cocktail, Beverage recipes to enjoy with Friends begged, borrowed, compiled and adapted by AJR’s lovable rascal the Klutz in the Kitchen

Interesting easy and simple beverage, cocktail and drinks recipes found online by The Klutz in the Kitchen. Listen to the Wingerd Griep en Ander Stories (Vineyard Flu and Other Stories) future which is also known as The Wrath of the Grape, this segment covers Beverages, Cocktail ‘n Drinks Recipes, debunking many of the myths of enjoying and drinking Wine, Spirits and Beer with a special focus on Artisanal products. We talk informally about and tasting Cape wines in an informal and somewhat down to earth irreverent manner with no pretention at all.

All Jazz Radio proud winner of the 2018/19 Mzantsi Jazz Award as the Best Radio Station Playing Jazz in South Africa

On Wednesday last week we had Steve Erlank in the studio talking and tasting their award winning gins that he produces at the Deep South Distillery which is located at 53 Heron Park, Wildevoelvlei Rd, Kommetjie, Cape Town, they do tastings and distillery tours by appointment and one can buy their gins directly from them. Currently they have two products available, they are the Cape Dry Gin and Ruby Gin, which the Klutz and I agree that both are superb and we rate 4⅔stars out of 5 on the great product klutzometer.

Check out their website for all details at Deep South Distillery website

Deep South Distillery website

Email The Deep South Distiller

Or phone them at 021 783 0129

We have included a Simple Syrup Recipe below this recipe

Deep Southside Gin Mojito – The Klutz decided to rename it the Deep Southside Ginito

Deep Southside Ginito (Gin Mojito)

Serves 1

Prep and Create time a few minutes

Bits and pieces to concoct it

50ml Cape Dry gin

20ml fresh squeezed lime

20ml fresh squeezed lemon

25ml sugar syrup,

6-8 fresh mint leaves

Sparkling water/soda

Procedures to rustle it up 

Pour the gin, fresh lime/lemon juice; sugar syrup and the mint leaves into a glass with a few cubes of ice then muddle enough to bruise the mint. Add ice, and top up with sparkling water/soda to taste, stirring slightly to mix. Steve likes it slightly cloudy with the mint and lime still in it. Garnish with sprig of mint.

Variations:  

Also can be served without ice in a chilled martini glass if you shake the ingredients and strain. Garnish with a round slice or two of lime, or cucumber or kiwi fruit.

Basic Simple Syrup Recipe:

Stuff to make it:

3 cups of Cold Water
1 Cup of Granulated Sugar

Note: Decide which type of Simple Syrup (thin, medium, or thick) you want to make to determine how much water and sugar you need to use.  See Types of Simple Syrup above.

Process to rustle it up 

In a high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cold water and sugar to a boil.

Turn the heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture becomes clear, this should take approximately 3 to 5 minutes.  Remember, the longer you boil it, the thicker the syrup will be when cooled.

To test if the sugar is completely dissolved, use a spoon, (warning don’t use your fingers at all), scoop up a small amount of the syrup. You should not be able to see any sugars crystals in the liquid.  If you do, boil a little longer.

Optional: At this point you can add flavourings (see below for ideas).

After boiling, let the syrup cool to room temperature, then pour into a tightly sealed, clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator  (Any clean and sealable container can be used).

Storing Simple Syrup:  Sugar is a natural preservative, so Simple Syrup keeps for a while in the refrigerator.  Eventually mold will begin to grow if stored too long.  You can also stir in 1 tablespoon corn syrup to help ensure the syrup stays smooth.

Skål

The Klutz in the Kitchen Rookie Mixologist

Chief Grub Maker, Recipe Initiator, Adroit Glühwein Fixer and Imbiber, Devoted Coffee Slurpee, Craft Beer Quaffing Enthusiast and Pinotage Aficionada

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Feeling Really Pekkish Munchie Recipe

Recipe begged, borrowed, compiled and adapted by The Klutz in the Kitchen

All Jazz Radio proud winner of the 2018/19 Mzantsi Jazz Award as the Best Radio Station Playing Jazz in South Africa

Reason to Celebrate because it’s Burger Day today, and is a great excuse to either head out to the local burger joint or if feeling adventurous then get out the cast iron pan or perhaps fire up the braai (barbecue) I mean, what’s not to like about a fat, juicy burger?

The only drawback – the high risk of food poisoning if not cooked properly!

Quite simply, the best way to ensure the burger is safe is to make sure it is cooked properly!  This means there should be no pink visible in the middle of the patty, and juices should run clear. But don’t rely on the colour alone – always use a meat thermometer to test the core temperature of the burger

Recommended cooking temperatures:

Beef burgers:cook to a core temperature of 71°C (160°F)

Chicken burgers:cook to a core temperature of 74°C (165°F)

Happy Burger Day, let’s be smart and safe, and cook those burgers properly. Even if you’re dining in a restaurant, make sure to specify the same!

Some Burger Day History

Burger Day is a day of appreciation for hamburgers with friends and family. The term hamburger is derived from the city of Hamburg, Germany, where beef from Hamburg cows was minced and formed into patties to make Hamburg steaks.
The origin of the hamburger in the United States remains long debated, although most claim that the hamburger originated between 1880 and 1900. Since then, this beef patty in a bun has become a global staple of the fast-food diet and the backyard cookout. In recent years, these traditional beef patties have been transformed to include other meat and vegetarian options such as, bison, ostrich, deer, chicken, turkey, veggies, tofu and bean patties.

Burger Day Facts & Quotes

Louis Lassen is believed to have invented the hamburger, according to New York Magazine.

One of the most expensive burgers in the world is The Biggest Damn Burger in the World, made by Juicy Foods in Corvallis, Oregon. With a price tag of $5,000, the burger includes 777 pounds of meat and toppings.

Why not try making burgers with alternative toppings such as Mac & Cheese, Crispy Bacon & Avocado, Peanut Butter & Banana, or Shrimp & Styve Pap (Firm Grits),

For a healthier and nutritious take on the traditional burger, try a veggie burger. It’s sacrilegious to my and the Kluzes way of thinking, but if mince is not your thing then try a Lentil and barley patty made from lentils, barley, breadcrumbs and spices including cumin, oregano, chili powder, black pepper and d ry garlic powder. Some options include replacing burger toppings with broccoli and cheese, and replacing potato fries with baked sweet potatoes or replacing the bun with lettuce.

BTW, Just thought you’d like to know, it’s alsoBanana Lovers Day.

The Klutz thought it would be a good call to use this Woolies recipe so one does not have to make the patties from scratch

Woolies Double beef burger with smoked cheddar and sriracha mayo

Double beef burger with smoked cheddar and sriracha mayo

Recipe by Abigail Donnelly

Preparation time: 20 min

Cooking time: 20 min

Serves: 4

Stuff to throw it together

8 Woolies thick beef burgers

1 Tablespoon of butter

1 Tablespoon of canola oil

½ a cup Woolies Clarke’s Kitchen hot sticky plum sauce

8 slices Woolies smoked Cheddar

4 burger rolls, halved and toasted

Sriracha mayonnaise, for spreading

2 Tablespoon of good-quality mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon of creamed horseradish

Lettuce, chopped, for serving

2 tomatoes, sliced

4 Teaspoons of Woollies basil pesto

1 red onion, sliced

4 gherkins, sliced

How To Cook It Up

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Break up the patties and reshape into 4 large patties

Heat the butter and oil in a large ovenproof pan and cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Pour in the plum sauce, transfer to the oven and roast for 10 minutes, or until done to your liking

Top each patty with 2 slices of cheese

Spread the sriracha mayo onto the bottom halves of the rolls. Mix the mayonnaise and horseradish and spread onto the top halves of the rolls

Place a patty on the bottom halves of the rolls, then add the lettuce, tomato, pesto, onion and gherkins and the top halves of the rolls

Cook’s note: The perfect burger is all about the balance between a juicy patty, the perfect texture, crunch and flavour

Buon Appetito

The Klutz in the Kitchen

Chief Grub Maker, Recipe Initiator, Adroit Glühwein Fixer and Imbiber, Devoted Coffee Slurpee, Craft Beer Quaffing Enthusiast and Pinotage Aficionada

Email: The Klutz in the Kitchen


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Jazz Rendezvous Blog Supreme

The Jazz Rendezvous Pinotage, Artisanal Booze, Beer, Cocktail, Coffee, Grub & Stockvel Radio Show 

by Eric Alan – Monday 20thAugust

All Jazz Radio proud winner of the 2018/19 Mzantsi Jazz Award as the Best Radio Station Playing Jazz in South Africa

The musings, ranting’s and mutterings about some tittle-tattle, chit-chatter of this, that and the next thing and maybe some other interesting blather about the World of Jazz, Blues, Latin and World Jazz and a few other things compiled by presenter, compiler, producer, reviewer, webitor, MC, All Jazz Radio Supremo and er, um, ah, ok then creative mastermind Eric Alan


Something new to appear on the All Jazz Radio Website

We are introducing a new page on the All Jazz Radio Website and would like your help with it. The page will be a weekly introduction to any Jazz, Blues, Latin or World Jazz musician from the global village randomly chosen by you, our listeners, please let us know whose biography you’d like to see featured, please send us your choice to us at Musician Of The Week with Musician of the Week in the subject line. Please note that only email suggestions will be accepted and that AJR peeps and will also be making their choices from time to time.


Quote

“People complain about the music industry, but this is a great time to be a musician.” – Walter Beasley

 

 


Many may be aware of my penchant for enjoying a good bottle of Pinotage with friends when sharing lunch, dinner and even at a braai from time to time, though, to my way of thinking I prefer good craft beer at braais or watching Formula 1, Rugby and Cricket. I also thought it a sound idea to share the results of the 22nd annual Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition which have just been announced, congratulations to the winners and they are as follows:

Allée Bleue Black Series Old Vine 2016
Beyerskloof Diesel 2015
Diemersdal Reserve 2017
Fairview Primo 2016
Flagstone Writer’s Block 2016
Kaapzicht Steytler 2015
Kanonkop 2013
Lyngrove Platinum 2016
Môreson The Widow Maker 2015
Rijk’s Reserve 2014

The museum class winner (for wines at least 10 years old):

Kanonkop 2006

Neethlingshof Lord Neethling 2003

Rijk’s Private Cellar 2008

I’d like to wish my Fellow Swiggers and Imbibers of the Squished Berries of the Vine Society a very Happy Tasting


This week In Conversation with ……. Eric Alan chatting with guests of interest on The Jazz Rendezvous Jazz, Blues, Latin, World Jazz and Cabaret, Music & Musicians, Entertainers, Artisanal Booze & Beer, Cocktails, Pinotage, Coffee, Grub & Stockvel Radio Show next week.

Please note that all of our interviews/chats take place from 3 to 4 pm Central African Time.

Tuesday 21 August – Singer, actor, producer, Cabaret, MC, Solo and Musical Entertainer oh! What the heck all round showman known as Mr Showbiz, Alvon Collison, who is now 77 this year, despite major health issues continues to bring joy to people of all ages by living to his creed, the show must go on. Alvon is a flamboyant and expressive person who loves life to the fullest and is known for his huge heart and generosity. He has been in show business for some 56 years and has done and fulfilled most of his dreams to date. Alvon and his partner of 26 years Faried Swartz will be joining me, live in the studio for a chat about life, loves, experiences what is currently being planed and what the coming years of good fortune may bring.

Wednesday 22 AugustSteve Erlank will be paying us a visit to chat about his new venture Deep South Distillery that was established in September 2017 and is the most southerly craft distillery In Cape Town. The distillery specialises in making small batch, handcrafted spirits their main currently products being Gin, Rum and Vodka. How lucky are we’ll mean we’ll be doing a live on air tasting of the distillery’s products and Steve will also be mixing up some cocktails as well.

Thursday 23 August– We speak to Kevin Naidoo a partner in the premier jazz club, the Orbit in Jo’burg, who are facing some major challenges and we’ll discuss those and try to assist in finding some solutions to those challenges

Friday 24 August Vocalist, activist, bandleader Vicky Sampson, I remember seeing her years ago on the TV talent show Follow That Star and from the outset knew she was going to be a huge star, and to this day I still believe she should have won. However not winning did not deter herset her on the [ath to the success she has reached today. We’ll find out more about this very talented woman, what drives her and what she still aims to achieve.


Herb Alpert

Nogga (Another) Quote

“Instrumental music can spread the international language.” – Herb Alpert


Laugh of the week

Question– How many sax players does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer – Five. One to change the bulb and four to contemplate how David Sanborn would have done it.


Reasons to Celebrate – Monday August 20th, 2018

Today Lemonade, Bacon Lover’s and Chocolate Pecan Pie Day, damn what a day to make choices of which to highlight, huh! Sjoe, jinna, man ok blerry hell, I’m going with bacon so here are some fun facts about Bacon. `The meaty morsel is one of the oldest processed meats in history. You see the Chinese began salting pork bellies as early as 1500 B.C. More than half of all homes keep bacon on hand at all times. Pregnant women should eat bacon as it is said to contain Choline, which is found in bacon, helps foetal brain development.

As a baconmaniac I love this one because bacon is said to cure hangovers, don’t care where it’s true or not. Bacon has been said to be the duct tape of food world because you can wrap it around just about anything, and immediately all problems of the day solved.

Another food fact is that Harry Brearly of Thomas Firth & Sons discovered how to make ‘the steel that doesn’t rust’ by accident and was first cast in Sheffield, Englan on this day in 1913

Ok lets see what lemonade day is all about, because we’ve go some space available to do so.

Lemonade originated in the Mediterranean region in the 13th century, and the recipe eventually made its way to Europe. From here, it arrived in America. The beverage was made and sold as an everyday refreshment and as a tonic, used to treat colds and other ailments. In France, you could purchase a glass from street vendors known as “lemoadiers.”

To celebrate Lemonade Day, it is really quite simple make your own homemade lemonade which can be shared friends and family. Dissolve 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of hot water. Then stir in 2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 4 Litres of cold water. Pour into glasses filled with ice and garnish with a lemon slice and a sprig of mint.

Just thought I’d add this pic for fun.

Enjoy!


And Finally

“Listening is more important than anything because that’s what music is. Somebody is playing something & you’re receiving it.” – Carla Bley


Have a great week, stay tuned, more coming your way

You can be part of the discussion by making your live comments on the All Jazz Radio Facebook Group

SUPPORT JAZZ, BLUES, LATIN & WORLD JAZZ MUSICIANS

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Artist of the Week

We are introducing a new page on our All Jazz Radio Website. We would like your help with it. The page will be a weekly introduction to any Jazz, Blues, Latin or World Jazz musician randomly chosen by you, our listeners, please let us and let us have 3 names for us to chose from which you’d like us to showcase as The Musician of the Week.

Please would you send your list of musician’s names to us at Musician Of The Week with Musician of the Week in the subject line. Please note that only email suggestions will be accepted and that AJR peeps and will also be making their choices from time to time.

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The Klutz in the Kitchen’s Drinks, Beverage ‘n Cocktails Recipe to enjoy with Friends

Recipe begged, borrowed, compiled and adapted by AJR’s rascal, but loveable Klutz in the Kitchen

August 16th is International Rum Day

The Klutz spent a number of hours doing research about the day and by the end of his research he was more difficult than usual to deal with, suffice to say the aches and pains associated with his research was well deserved. International Rum Day is a holiday that celebrates and commemorates the distilled alcoholic beverage that is made from sugarcane by-products. It’s a spirit that steeped in romanticism, thanks to its association with pirates in the Caribbean. While it is considered to be the third most popular alcoholic beverage, after whiskey and vodka, on this day it is number one. So if you’re of legal age, and can enjoy this beverage responsibly, then be sure to try out one of the many drinks that can be made with rum.

A brief history of Rum

No one is currently sure when rum was invented. In fact, it probably dates back before recorded history. Scholars do believe however, that is was probably developed from an early drink known as brum that was made by the Malay people thousands of years ago. When Marco Polo was in Iran, he noted that he was given a tasty wine of sugar that may have been an ancestor of what is now known as rum.

The first known distillation of rum took place during the 17th century on various sugarcane plantations located in the Caribbean. It is believed that the slaves on the plantations were the first ones to discover that the by-product of the sugar refining process could be fermented and processed in a spirit. Over time, these spirits were distilled and refined until the alcohol was raised to a sufficient level to become rum. According to many of the oral traditions of the Caribbean, it is stated that the first rums were created in Barbados. However, new evidence is beginning to emerge that suggests that Brazil and Sweden each had their own versions of rum.

Rum fun facts

Rum with lime was given to Royal Navy sailors

Colonists in the Caribbean consumed 12 million gallons of rum annually

A popular name for rum was Grog

Other names for rum include Navy neaters, Kill Devil and Nelson’s blood

The Klutz, after coming out of his stupor and a box of acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) later, decided the recipe to be shared on this day is hot buttered rum, a mixed drink containing rum, butter, hot water or cider, a sweetener, and various spices (usually cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves). It is especially popular in the fall and winter and is traditionally associated with the holiday season. In the United States, the drink has a venerable history, which dates back to colonial days. Thanks Wikipedia.

Hot Buttered Rum

Serves 6

Prep and Create time 15 mins

Bits and pieces to concoct it

100g unsalted butter

1 cup of brown sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of salt

Dark rum (Swop out the rum for a scoop of ice cream for a non-alcoholic version

Boiling water

Whipped cream (optional)

Procedures to rustle it up 

Place all the dry ingredients including the butter into a pestle and mortar and work all ingredients until they have formed a paste

Take 2 tablespoons of mixture and place into a mug and add 3 tablespoons of Rum

Add boiling water and stir until the butter has melted

Serve immediately

Adding whipped cream on top is optional and sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg.

Skål

The Klutz in the Kitchen Rookie Mixologist

Chief Grub Maker, Recipe Initiator, Adroit Glühwein Fixer and Imbiber, Devoted Coffee Slurpee, Craft Beer Quaffing Enthusiast and Pinotage Aficionada

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Feeling Really Pekkish Munchie Recipe

Recipe begged, borrowed, compiled and adapted by The Klutz in the Kitchen

Today August 15th – International Lemon Meringue Pie Day

Tomorrow, Thursday August 16th it’s International Rum Day and Bratwurst Day

The Klutz in the Kitchen not being a particulary good baker has decide not to bake a Lemon Meringue Pie therefore he has decided on ………………

COTTAGE PIE as todays recipe

According to Wikipedia the recipe can vary widely. The defining ingredients are minced meat (commonly beef when named cottage pie or lamb when named shepherd’s pie), typically its cooked in a gravy with chopped or sliced onions and sometimes other vegetables, such as peas, celery or carrots, and topped with mashed potato. The pie is sometimes also topped with grated cheese.

The term cottage pie was in use by 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cottage, meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers). The term shepherd’s pie did not appear until 1854, and was used synonymously with cottage pie, regardless of whether the meat was beef or mutton. In the United Kingdom, the term shepherd’s pie is now commonly used when the meat is lamb.

I’m really partial to Cottage or Shepherds Pie so our grumpy Klutz searched far and wide to find this very simple, easy yet tasty recipe using all shortcuts to create a meal all will enjoy, also thanks to Royco®

Preparation time: 15 min

Cooking time: 35 min

Serves: 4

Stuff to throw it together

Royco® Savoury Gravy

650g Beef Mince

50g Tomato Paste

1 Medium Onion thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

2 cups frozen mixed veg, defrosted

4 potatoes, cooked and mashed

¼ cup milk

Klutz inspired optional extra stuff

2 chilli’s seeded and finely chopped (must be added to step 3)

1 large cup grated cheese (to be spread evenly over the top of the mash)

How to cook it up

  1. Prepare the Royco® gravy according to packet instructions.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. In a pan brown the onions add the garlic half way through the browning process once done set aside on a plate.
  4. In the same pan brown the mince when done, add the browned onions and garlic, tomato paste, 1 cup beef stock or water and prepared Royco® sauce, simmer for 10 minutes, stir through the mixed veg.
  5. Mix together mashed potato and milk, season with salt and pepper.
  6. Place mince in an ovenproof dish and top with mash.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Buon Appetito

The Klutz in the Kitchen

Chief Grub Maker, Recipe Initiator, Adroit Glühwein Fixer and Imbiber, Devoted Coffee Slurpee, Craft Beer Quaffing Enthusiast and Pinotage Aficionada

Email:klutzinthekitchen@alljazzradio.co.za


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Jazz Rendezvous Blog Supreme

by Eric Alan – Monday 13 August 2018

The musings, ranting’s and mutterings about some tittle-tattle, chit-chatter of this, that and the next thing and maybe some other interesting blather about the World of Jazz, Blues, Latin and World Jazz and a few other things compiled by presenter, compiler, producer, reviewer, webitor, MC, and er, um, ah, ok then creative mastermind of Eric Alan


All Jazz Radio named the Radio category winner at the 2nd Mzantsi Jazz Awards last night in Johannesburg

When I found out that All Jazz Radio had been nominated as one of the six finalists in the 2nd Mzantsi Jazz Awards in the newly added category, The Best Radio Station Playing Jazz it came as a completely unexpected surprise. As it is a public vote category we then followed the instructions issued by the organisers and started calling for votes from our listeners and followers on our social media pages, website and during our shows. Looking at our fellow nominees in the category, Alex FM, CCFM 107.5. Kaya FM, Metro FM, and Veterans Voice Radio we knew it was going to be difficult, undaunted we continued our campaign.

The event, which took place on Saturday night in Jo’burg and we could sadly not attend the event, as we had no resources to do so being a total volunteer operated online radio station. We did not know the results until the organisers emailed us on Sunday afternoon letting us know that A.J.R. had won The Best Radio Station Playing Jazz category. I was completely taken by surprise, more so than when we found out of our nomination. I was gobsmacked and at a totally loss for words. I was expecting either Kaya FM or Metro FM to be the winners, I mean who would have thought that an online volunteer broadcaster would be the winner.

We are humbled by this accolade however it validates what we have always believed, that a radio station playing Jazz, Blues, Latin and World Jazz and promoting South African and Jazz from Africa could work on a daily basis. Though many hurdles remain for us, we can face them with renewed vigour and determination firm in our belief that we are on the right path.

I am reminded of Gary David Goldberg’s quote. ”It takes a lot of people to make a winning team. Everybody’s contribution is important.” Therefore I would like to thank all of our listeners and supporters who cast their vote for us and I must also offer a colossal vote of thanks to our team of local and international volunteer presenters, Brian Currin, James Kibby, Clifford Graham, Wolfgang König in Berlin, Andy Hardy in New Zealand, Rhys Phillips in France, Todd Gordon in Scotland and husband and wife team Jeff Williams and Kari Gaffney in the USA without whose on-going commitment and passion for what we will continue doing, supporting and promoting the wide genre mixes of Jazz, Blues, Latin and World Jazz from South Africa, Africa and the rest of the global village. Also a considerable thanks to our “webiter” as I like to call her but in reality she is our reporter, writer, columnist, reviewer, critic and commentator Carol Martin and to Karen Jordi for her invaluable assistance with the technicalities and changes to our website.

An immense vote of thanks must also go to Chris Grant and his NetDynamix team for and putting up with me as well as keeping us streaming all day, everyday because without them there would be no A.J.R.

I would also like to proffer a massive thank you to all of the independent musicians and the jazz radio promoter’s worldwide who make sure we receive the latest releases by many incredible talented artists many of whom have never been heard on the airwaves of our continent before for inclusion on our playlists.

Sjoe! Still trying to wrap my head around what has happened and what it means to us…….

See the full list of winner below.


Quote

I was lucky enough to grow up in an era when radio was less formatted. It was really special. You could hear a jazz song then a pop song then a show tune then some jazz. Basically, whatever the DJ felt like playing, he would play. He was educating you and exposing you to things you would never hear otherwise. Todd Rundgren


Whats happening on Jazz Rendezvous this week

Very excited to have four big live interviews/chats coming up this week on All Jazz Radio during my show Jazz Rendezvous.

Please note that all of our interviews/chats take place from 3 to 4 pm Central African Time.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 14 August we’ll have Don Vino in studio from three to four pm Central African Time and we’ll be chatting about his debut album release All The Way

Wednesday 15 AugustI have Gaby Le Rouxlive in the studio. Gaby is one of the founders and motivators of TUMSA Trade Union for Musicians of South Africa, which states on their FB Page “We have formed a TRADE UNION to represent ALL Musicians of South Africa. We are 100% Focused on bringing the SA Music Economy under Majority Mzansi Control”

Thursday 16 August Dave Reynolds Steel-pan, acoustic guitarist, composer and bandleader will join us for a chat about his life as a working musician in Africa today.

Friday 17 August Saxophonist Dan Shout has a new album that has just been released internationally we’ll find out about the album and listen to a track or two.

Tune in to All Jazz Radio on any of the following:

http://alljazzradio.ndstream.net/flashplayer.htm

http://onlineradiobox.com/za/alljazzra/?cs=za.alljazzra

https://tunein.com/radio/All-Jazz-Radio-s185300/

http://streema.com/radios/play/88609


2nd Mzantsi Jazz Awards all of the winners Sunday 12 August 2018

The Mzantsi Jazz Awards Company is excited to announce the winners for the 2nd Mzantsi Jazz Awards ceremony that took place Saturday night 11 August 2018 in Sandton.

The Jury evaluated the following categories and the following were announced as winners: 

Best Contemporary Jazz Album
Zoe Modiga – Yellow The Novel

Best Traditional Jazz Album
Tune Recreation Committee – Voices of Our Vision

Best Male Artist
Nduduzo Makhathini

Best Female Artist
Thandi Ntuli

Best International Collaboration Album or Song
Aaron Rimbui – Kwetu

 

Best Newcomer in Jazz
Zoe Modiga

The other 5 categories were public vote categories and the following were announced as the winners:

Best Jazz Album
Sy Ntuli – Ibuya

Best Jazz Song
Zoe Modiga – Yaweh

Best Foreign Jazz Album/Artist
Cecile McLorin Salvant – Dreams and Daggers

Best radio station playing Jazz
All Jazz Radio

Best Jazz Venue/Club
The Orbit

Every year the Mzantsi Jazz awards also recognizes lifetime contribution to the Jazz genre and the following four awardees were named:

  • Mme Dorothy Masuka
  • Ntate Mabe Thobejane
  • uBaba Madala Kunene
  • Mr Pops Mohamed

More than the awards, the event showcased a rich tapestry of South African jazz landscape with great performances from Billy Monama, Mpumi Dlamini, Sibusiso Lerole, Bonginkosi Madonsela quartet, Sibusiso “Mash” Mashiloane, Cameron Ward, Sy Ntuli and Vocalist Nia Mo.

“Jazz is alive and well- and we are here to continue to showcase and celebrate the best of South African Jazz” said Dr Mongezi Makhalima, the chairman and founder of the MJA.


Nogga (Another) Quote

The great jazz radio stations have a duty to continue evolving their format just as audiences ask the musicians to evolve. How do you do that with a form of music that has 100 years of recorded history? How do you also keep it contemporary so you don’t isolate your listeners? These are major questions. Jason Moran


Laugh of the week

St. Peter in Heaven is checking ID’s. He asks a man, “What did you do on Earth?”
The man says, “I was a doctor.”
St. Peter says, “Okay, go right through those pearly gates. Next! What did you do on Earth?”
“I was a school teacher.”
“Go right through those pearly gates. Next! And what did you do on Earth?”
“I was a musician.”
“Go around the side, up the freight elevator, through the kitchen…..”


Reasons to Celebrate – Monday August 13, 2018 is Left-Handers’ Day 

Every year on August 13, we celebrate the 10% of the population that is left-handed. This day is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the needs of left-handed children.

If you are left-handed, you know that living in a world designed for right-handed people can be quite difficult. Opening doors, writing in spiral notebooks, and using a computer mouse can be awkward and frustrating. Studies have shown that left-handedness is often associated with intellectual creativity. Famous left-handers include Michelangelo, Mozart, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Henson!

There are several ways you can celebrate Left-Handers’ Day. If you’re left-handed, declare a “lefty zone” around your personal space, where everything must be done left-handed. If you’re a righty, do something nice for your lefty friends. Buy them a left-handed pen or can-opener to make their lives a little easier!

Today is also Filet Mignon Day, The Klutz in the Kitchen si somewhat pissed off because we did not lead with this celebration

This week is Elvis Week


SUPPORT JAZZ, BLUES, LATIN & WORLD JAZZ MUSICIANS

Go buy their music – Don’t Pirate – Go to their Live Gigs

We are mobile, so you can take us with you wherever you may go and enjoy the best Jazz, Blues, Latin and World Jazz music from the South Africa, Africa and the rest of the Global Village any day, all day.


Listen to All Jazz Radio on any of the following:

http://alljazzradio.ndstream.net/flashplayer.htm

http://onlineradiobox.com/za/alljazzra/?cs=za.alljazzra

https://tunein.com/radio/All-Jazz-Radio-s185300/

http://streema.com/radios/play/88609


Have a great week, stay tuned, more coming your way

You can be part of the discussion by making your live comments on the AJR FB Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/alljazzradio/

SUPPORT JAZZ, BLUES, LATIN & WORLD JAZZ MUSICIANS

Go buy their music – Don’t Pirate – Go to their Live Gigs

We are mobile, so you can take us with you wherever you may go and enjoy the best Jazz, Blues, Latin and World Jazz music from the South Africa, Africa and the rest of the Global Village any day, all day.


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