Artist Of The Week

Artist Of The Week

Southern Hemisphere Trio joins the London jazz scene

Award-winning vocalists Nicky Schrire and Anita Wardell

Award-winning vocalists Nicky Schrire and Anita Wardell

For the love of the southern hemisphere (and music), this trio is sure to make London jazz fans happy this February

Award-winning vocalists Anita Wardell and Nicky Schrire met in 2007. Despite any geographical distance (Australian-raised Wardell was based in London, and Schrire was about to move from her native South Africa to New York) they developed a kinship and became fast friends. With a shared love for “straight tone” singing, the understated, and Southern Hemisphere roots, the two remained in touch over the past five years, when Schrire performed London and Wardell performed in the USA.

Schrire recently returned to live in London and the two singers are thrilled to find themselves on the same side of the pond. To celebrate this coming full circle, they have teamed up with pianist Robin Aspland (Kenny Wheeler, George Coleman, Georgie Fame) to form “The Southern Hemisphere Trio” (Aspland has spent time in both Australia and South Africa making him an honorary Southern Hemisphere-ian). The trio will explore songs from jazz and folk traditions in this intimate formation, celebrating seven years of musical friendship.

“Anita Wardell is a singer who takes no prisoners. The Australian vocalist is an uncompromising exponent of bebop and has won a cult following among her colleagues in London during her time here.”
-Clive Davis, The Times
“… Schrire becomes part of the fabric of her music. Her voice is a warm and supple instrument that serves as a dispensary of emotional power.”
-Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz

Gig Details

Date: Wednesday 11 February; 7:30pm

Venue: 3-7 Delancey St, London NW1 7NL

Tickets: £15; Phone: 020 7383 780

With thanks to The South African


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Artist of the Week – FRIDAY 26th September, 2014 Dan Shout – Saxophonist, Band Leader, Composer, Record Company Owner passionate performer.

Dan Shout

Dan Shout

Dan Shout is a respected, sought-after jazz musician based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is most renowned as a session saxophonist and for his seven-year stint with Johnny Clegg.

Dan has performed in over 25 countries across five continents. A few of his career highlights include performing with the South African National Youth Jazz Band at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague with Carlo Mombelli (2004), playing with the combined University of Cape Town/University of Kwazulu-Natal Jazz Octet lead by Darius Brubeck and Mike Rossi at the I.A.J.E. in Long Beach, California (2005), a multitude of national and international performances with Johnny Clegg, including the Soccer World Cup in Germany (2006); Rugby World Cup in France (2007); Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Concert at Ellis Park (2007.

Read more about this talented South African Musician on his website at about Dan

Solo Recordings:

“In With a Shout” – Dan Shout, SMC003 (2014)
“Serenading Ghosts” – SHOUT, SMC002 (2012)
“Greetings & Salutations” – Dan Shout, SMC001 (2010)

Recordings as a Sideman:

“In the Red” – The Blues Broers. GR007CD, Guava Records. (2014)
“Tango Dreams” – Cape Town Tango Ensemble. GMW04 (2014)
“Felix – The Movie” Soundtrack (2013)
“Magic Carpet Ride”. Magic Carpet Ride (2011)
“UCT Jazz 2010 – Conceptions”. CD STR 103 (2011)
“Dinosaur”. Jax Panic (2010)
“Lisa Bauer” EP (2008)
“Simplicity” – Bedrock. Criminal Records (2008)
“Mozambique Fashion Week” CD by Dino Moran.
“The Rudimentals LIVE @ Kirstenbosch” CD & DVD (2007)
“Johnny Clegg ONE LIFE live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre” CD & DVD (2007)
“UCT Jazz – Full Spectrum”. (“The Poem” comp. & arr. Mike Campbell)
“Lost in Time” feat. Sakhile Moleshe.
“Cafe d’Afrique 3” Compilation – “New Jazz Nigeria” by Moran Moretti. DGR1650.
“Tattoo Bar” Compilation – “Kickin that Funk” by DJ AK47/feat. Boogieman on vocals, Dan Shout on sax. OGCJM.
“Aunty Trish” by Hog Hoggidy Hog on their album “Oink”. Bowline Music. FI000829.
“Cape of Storms (live)” by Golliwog (Independent Artist). Tassenberg All Stars – Live @ The Tassenberg Wingerdstok. TRIP 017, BOW 014.
“Mattress Mambo” by Golliwog (Independent Artist). SL Magazine Selection 10 Compilation; SL 2003.
“Nasty” by Golliwog (Independent Artist). SL Magazine Selection 4 Compilation: SL August 2002.
“Desperado” by The Eagles. Bedrock “La Cantina”. Criminal Records (2000)

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Artist of the Week – Annie Ross – Wednesday August 20, 2014

Legendary Vocalist Annie Ross Releases Her New CD “To Lady With Love” October 7, 2014 so I thought it would be great to feature her as our artist of the week.

Annie Ross To Lady With LoveNot just the canary female whose dexterous vocals highlighted recordings by the vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Annie Ross recorded more than a dozen albums of solid vocal jazz and appeared in many movies. Though she was the last member to join LH&R, she had been pursuing the same pioneering fusions of vocal music with bop delivery for several years before she joined Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks.

Born Annabelle Lynch in Surrey, England, she moved to Los Angeles at the age of three, with the musical comedienne Ella Logan (either her mother or her aunt, according to differing accounts). By the age of five, she had begun acting and landed roles in the Our Gang series. She later studied acting in New York, and then moved back to England where she began singing in nightclubs. Her recording debut came in Paris, with a quartet including James Moody. By 1952, Ross was back in New York and recording with most of the Modern Jazz Quartet for her first album, Singin’ and Swingin’. Later that year, she recorded an album with vocalese pioneer King Pleasure. Though she featured on only four tracks of King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sings, her reprise of tenor Wardell Gray‘s solo on the song “Twisted” became a vocalese landmark.

Annie Ross

Annie Ross

During 1953, Annie Ross toured throughout Europe with one of Lionel Hampton‘s best bands (including Clifford Brown, Art Farmer, Quincy Jones, and Gigi Gryce). She stayed there for several years and recorded albums for HMV and Pye before returning to America in 1957 when a New York nightclub engagement beckoned. While there, she did a vocal session with Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks, who were working on an album of Basie solos transposed for vocals. Realizing they shared much in common, Ross was invited to join the group, naturally christened Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.

An immediate success with their first album, 1957’s Sing a Song of Basie, the trio revolutionized vocal music with a set of light-speed scats that treated words as mere tools in the construction of exciting feats of vocal musicianship. Relentless touring and rumors of a falling out with Hendricks finally led to Ross‘ exit from the band in 1962. (Though LH&R soon became LH&B with the addition of Yolande Bavan, it was quite clear that Ross‘ role had been an important one, and the group disbanded less than two years later.)

Even while involved with the group, Annie Ross had continued her solo career with few interruptions. In late 1957, she recorded Sings a Song with Mulligan for the World Pacific label, with West Coast stars Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker in support on a set of bright standards that highlighted her interpretive skills as well as a few flights of vocal fancy. Two additional LPs followed for World Pacific, A Gasser! (with Zoot Sims) and a straight rendition of the Broadway hit Gypsy. After LH&R split, she moved back to England and resumed her stage and film career, recording only three more albums during the ’60s. A few years back in Los Angeles gained her parts in high-profile movies during the ’80s and ’90s, including Superman III, Pump Up the Volume, and Robert Altman‘s Short Cuts. For the latter film, she recorded several numbers for the soundtrack, and re-emerged with a new recording for 1995, Music Is Forever.

Annie Ross

Annie Ross

Biog taken from

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Artist of the Day – Nicky Schrire- Tuesday August 19, 2014

Nicky Schrire

Nicky Schrire

Nicky Schrire is a London-born, South African-raised vocalist and composer. After living in New York for five years she recently returned to live in London. Praised by All About Jazz for her “warm and supple instrument that serves as a dispensary of emotional power,” her 2012 debut album Freedom Flight was released to critical acclaim. Her 2013 sophomore release Space And Time features duets with pianists Gerald Clayton, Gil Goldstein and Fabian Almazan. Journalists called the album “breathtaking, stop-you-in-your-tracks stuff…an intimate stunner” (All About Jazz), and “fifty minutes of emotionally eventful, richly crafted music” (Ottawa Citizen).

Schrire graduated from the South African College of Music, UCT, where she worked alongside artists such Sibongile Khumalo, Arno Carstens and Abdullah Ibrahim. She then went on to earn a Master of Music Degree from the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Peter Eldridge and Dave Liebman.

Nicky Schrire GiacondaSchrire’s work has given rise to comparisons to artists such as Norma Winstone, Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell, among others. Her first originals-only EP To The Spring was released in March 2014 and features pianist Fabian Almazan and bassist Desmond White. Journalist Jon Garelick wrote, “though Schrire’s approach has earned her comparisons to Gretchen Parlato and Becca Stevens, the similarities are superficial. Like Parlato, she’s an assured technician with a whole bag of impressive tricks. Like Stevens and, for that matter, Esperanza Spalding, she has an affinity for folk. But…she’s got her own thing, and it’s very much worth listening to.”

Schrire has led her quartet in performances in New York (55Bar, the Kitano, 92Y), Boston (Scullers Jazz Club), Los Angeles (Blue Whale), London (The Forge), Dublin (National Concert Hall), and South Africa (Standard Bank Youth Jazz Festival). Often praised for her choice of repertoire, Hardbop Jazz Journal described her as “clever and understated” while FAME noted that “a number of the more and most intelligent female vocalists come to mind-Tori Amos, Norma Winstone, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, etc.-in Schrire’s work.”

Nicky Schrire far away Find out more about this extremely talented hard working young composer, vocal jazz musician and bandleader from her website at Biog taken from her website.


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Artist of the Day – Bob Dorough – Monday August 18, 2014

BOB DOROUGH at piano

A man and his piano, Bob Dorough

Bob Dorough, born in Arkansas and “raised” in Texas, immediately fell in love with music upon joining the Plainview Texas High School Band. He served three years in a Special Services Army Band Unit, gaining much professional experience as arranger, clarinettist, saxophonist, pianist, and entertainer (1943-45). After earning a Bachelor Of Music degree at the University of North Texas (1949), he made a bee-line for New York City where he took classes at Columbia University and immersed himself in the volatile jazz scene then taking place there -the Bebop revolution. In 1952 he turned his back on the academic scene to devote himself to jazz performance, specializing in piano/vocals. After years of accompanying, conducting, arranging, and playing, he made his first recording as a leader (1956) for the Bethlehem label…. DEVIL MAY CARE, having written the title tune three years earlier. He is known as “the only singer to record with Miles Davis”. While this may not be 100% true, he did record two vocals with Davis, in 1962, “Nothing Like You” and “Blue Xmas,” both of which he composed.

Davis also recorded an instrumental version of Bob’s classic song, “Devil May Care,” that same year. In 1971 he received a commission to “set the multiplication tables to music.”

BOB DOROUGH painting

Bob Dourough

This led to a small industry, being the beginning of ABC-TV’s SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK, Saturday morning cartoons that entertained and instructed unsuspecting children during the years 1973-1985. The impact of this media exposure was unpredictably immense. The show came back for another five years in the 90’s and is now enjoying its 30th anniversary with a DVD edition of the entire, five-subject series, for which Dorough worked as the Musical Director.

In 1995 he signed a contract with the prestigious jazz label – Blue Note Records – and has done three CDs for them (“Right On My Way Home,” “Too Much Coffee Man” and “Who’s On First”).

Bob Dorough (2013) Watercolor on Paper 14"x11" Artist: Lynn Lane

Bob Dorough (2013) Watercolor on Paper 14″x11″ Artist: Lynn Lane

Now residing in Pennsylvania, he has received honour’s from that state (the Governor’s Artist of the Year Award) and from his native state (the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame.) 

In 2002 his trio was chosen to represent the State Department and Kennedy Center, as an Ambassador of Jazz and Blues. The one-month tour saw them play some 22 workshops and concerts in thirteen cities in six different countries.

Currently recording on Arbors, Candid and his own label, Bob Dorough continues to perform, often for children too, in Jazz Clubs and Schools, wherever he can.

Biog taken from the website at for more info, go check it out.

Bob Dorough doing what he does best

Bob Dorough doing what he does best

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Kyle Shepherd

Kyle Shepherd

Kyle Shepherd

“Shepherd, a Cape Town native who will turn 26 this summer, plays piano with old-soul authority and composes rich, evocative music. He’s very much grounded in the myriad and compelling sounds of his homeland, but there’s a personal stamp on his art and an awareness of jazz beyond South Africa to it too. The latter adds dimension but never overtakes the music’s beautiful and powerful sense of rootedness.”  Peter Hum, International Jazz blogger,

“This is improvisation as a search for freedom, “freedom from”, yes, but also “freedom to”, a key to unlock the doors of music making in the future”. Miles Keylock, Editor-in-Chief, Rolling Stone South Africa

Kyle Shepherd, one of South Africa’s leading progressive Jazz pianists and composers of his generation, is steadily gaining international recognition for his distinctive compositional style and performances.

The multi South African Music Awards (SAMA) nominated virtuoso pianist and winner of the 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz, already has a well-established record of celebrated solo, trio and quartet performances in South Africa, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands and China.

In celebration of the 5-year Anniversary of his Trio, Shepherd will launch his highly anticipated new 21-track Double Album, entitled ‘Dream State’ with a concert at the Wits 969 Festival in The Wits Great Hall, Wits University, Johannesburg on Saturday, 26 July 2014. In his foreword to the album, renowned arts journalist, Percy Mabandu says: “There’s a palpable connectedness they share as players, a connection that also touches attuned audiences at their live performances too. This band is on a search for more than beautiful notes. They are asking more of the music. Its corporeal and ethereal aspects are invoked into the simultaneous sound ritual. Each performance takes on the nature of a meditation and as Zim Ngqawana said, ‘the music must lead us towards ourselves’. ”

All three of the twenty-seven-year-old virtuoso pianist’s earlier critically acclaimed album releases, ‘fineART’, ‘A Portrait of Home’ and ‘South African History! X’, have garnered South African Music Award nominations.

His debut solo piano album, recorded in Japan, is set for release later this year.

Shepherd will be performing a solo piano concert at The Tokyo Jazz Festival (Tokyo, Japan) on the 7th of September 2014 and with Kesivan & The Lights at Carnegie Hall, New York, USA on the 30th of October 2014. The Kyle Shepherd Trio is billed to play at The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival, Sandton on the 27th September 2014.

As a pianist, Xaru player (traditional mouth-bow) and composer, Shepherd has forged a unique compositional and performance concept that pays homage to all his musical influences and the many great musicians he has worked with, all while continuing to look forward musically in a way, which, in the words of the great South African Jazz writer and historian, Gwen Ansell, “live in the jazz world but are never imprisoned by it”.

In 2013, Shepherd performed his special music project, Xamissa, Place of Sweet Waters, to critical acclaim at the Festival d’Automne à Paris (Paris Autumn Festival). Xamissa, which was commissioned by the festival, is a large-scale compositional work, which, Shepherd says, “brings together the sounds and cultures of Cape Town by incorporating the Xhosa, Afrikaans and English languages – with the use of voices, piano, the Xaru, the ghoema drums and tenor saxophone.”

Shepherd’s track, Bobbejaan / Minstrels Go to Court, off his ‘South African History !X  Album,  is featured in  the award-winning South African film Four Corners, which received the ‘Best Film’ Award in the feature film category at the 2014 Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF), Canada. It was also the official South African submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014!

Shepherd regularly performs in concert as a solo pianist, while also leading his Trio with Shane Cooper (double bass) and Jonno Sweetman (drums) and his Quartet featuring Claude Cozens (drums), Benjamin Jephta (bass) and top South African – tenor saxophonist – Buddy Wells.

Apart from South Africa, Shepherd has also performed in Japan,  Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, France, Denmark, India, Malaysia, China, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana  and Zimbabwe, with notable concert appearances, either as a solo pianist or trio, quartet and other formats at Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord and L’Onde Théâtre et Centre d’art as part of the Festival d’Automne à Paris (France), The Bird’s Eye Jazz Club (Switzerland), Jazzwerkstatt Festival Bern (Switzerland), Reformierte Dorfkirche Kleinhüningen (Switzerland), Klubschule St. Gallen (Switzerland), Der Sendesaal, (Germany), Hallenbad Kultur Am Schactweg, (Germany), Body & Soul Jazz Club (Japan), Shikiori (Japan), Kaho Gekijo Kabuki Theatre (Japan), The Aarhus Jazz Festival (Denmark), The Cape Town International Jazz Festival (South Africa), The Joy of Jazz Festival (South Africa), Harare International Festival – HIFA (Zimbabwe),The Tianjin International Jazz Festival (China), No Black Tie (Malaysia), MICA (India),  B-Flat (India) and The Gonsalves Mansion ‘Home of Jazz’ (India),

Some of the great musicians Shepherd has performed with in his illustrious career include the Late Zim Ngqawana, Louis Moholo-Moholo, the Late Robbie Jansen, Carlo Mombelli, Errol Dyers, Hilton Schilder, Mark Fransman and Ayanda Sikade, all from South Africa, as well as Saadet Türköz (Switzerland), Marc Stucki (Switzerland), Seigo Matsunaga (Japan), Sebastiaan Kaptein (Holland) and Ole Hamre (Norway).

Shepherd featured in the AWARD WINNING theatre production, ‘AFRIKAAPS’ for which he directed & co-wrote the music, and also performed in.

Film documentaries that feature his music are: ‘AFRIKAAPS’ by Dylan Valley, ‘The Uprising of Hangberg’ by Dylan Valley & world-renowned filmmaker Aryan Kaganof. Shepherd was also commissioned to compose a new work for the music production ‘Die Buitestaanders’ by Mareli Stolp & Magdalene Minnaar.


Album & Concert Review Highlights:

In his Foreword to Shepherd’s Debut Album “fineART”, internationally acclaimed South African music legend, the late Zim Ngqawana had the following to say about Shepherd’s music:

“Authenticity is another word for originality and this is clearly evident in Kyle’s compositions, arrangements and improvisation. He has managed to find a balance between the intellect and intuition. Kyle is a meditator and a poet.”

“Shepherd, a Cape Town native who will turn 26 this summer, plays piano with old-soul authority and composes rich, evocative music. He’s very much grounded in the myriad and compelling sounds of his homeland, but there’s a personal stamp on his art and an awareness of jazz beyond South Africa to it too. The latter adds dimension but never overtakes the music’s beautiful and powerful sense of rootedness.”  Peter Hum, International Jazz blogger,

“As a composer and arranger Shepherd is proving to be one of the chief architects of modern Cape jazz.” Andre Manuel, The Cape Times

“This is improvisation as a search for freedom, “freedom from”, yes, but also “freedom to”, a key to unlock the doors of music making in the future”. Miles Keylock, Editor-in-Chief, Rolling Stone South Africa

In his review of the Trio album, “A Portrait of Home”, international music critic, Marcus O’Dair | The Arts Desk UK, commends the work of the Trio. “A Portrait Of Home sees Shepherd, together with Shane Cooper on double bass and drummer Jonno Sweetman, creating music of subtle yet tremendous power. Though the technique of all three is undeniable, this is no antiseptic chopsfest: it is music of genuine passion, meditative and stately but always emotionally engaged. It has groove at its very core, with hummable, stripped back melodies on top – and not just in the “head” sections that traditionally top and tail jazz arrangements.”

“I believe that on fineART, Shepherd carries the torch for this style of music.” Don Albert (Financial Mail)

“(His compositions) unashamedly display his cultural music traditions, drawing on the unique rhythms, harmonies, and melodic devices of what Kyle calls “music from home”. Carol Martin (SAJE – South African Association for Jazz Education).

“It’s this ‘Proudly South African’ tradition that audiences can expect to hear” … “which sees the multi-instrumentalist navigate an impressionistic collage of South African jazz sounds, from slam poetic minimalist re-imaginings of Afrikaans volksliedjies and Muslim calls to prayer, to goema groove deconstructions, tributes to Abdullah Ibrahim, Ngqawana’s philosophy of “Zimology” and more that, as the doyen of South African jazz scribes Gwen Ansell pointed out in Business Day recently: “live in the jazz world but are never imprisoned by it”. Miles Keylock (Mail & Guardian)

“Shepherd’s jagged edges and questioning dissonances sound far more like Ibrahim at the start of his career than his magisterial solemnity. The young player’s plaintive little minor key segues into fragments of musical fragments represent a sonic collage of his city, much as pianist Robert Glasper’s sounds (also heard this year in Cape Town) collage the jazz history and hip-hop present of New York. ” Gwen Ansell (Business Day / The Weekender)

“Shepherd is an outstanding pianist …. His ability to craft extensive melodic passages and tangents takes one on a musical journey.” Keenan Oakes (Artspoken, Artslink)

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Artist of the Week

Shane Cooper – Bassist, Composer, Band Leader, Sideman & Innovator

South African Bass player, composer, band leader, recording artist

South African Bass player, composer, band leader, recording artist

Shane Cooper is a jazz bassist, composer and producer based in Cape Town, South Africa. He recently launched his debut record with his quintet. The album, titled Oscillations, is out now on iTunes. In 2013 he was selected as the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz. He was a member of the groups Babu (SAMA Nominee) and Closet Snare, and still works with the Kyle Shepherd Trio (SAMA Nominee) and the Reza Khota Quartet, and has also worked with artists like Zim Ngqawana, Feya Faku, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Malcolm Braff, Jeroen van Vliet, Marcus Wyatt, Soweto Kinch, Melanie Scholtz, Bokani Dyer, Nicky Schrire, Afrika Mkhize, and more.

As a composer Shane has written music for the award-winning documentary Forerunners by Simon Wood, the documentary Port Nolloth: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Felix Seuffert, the short film Celia’s Story by Ruth Levin-Forster. He also co-composed music for the award-winning theatre production and documentary Afrikaaps, as well as the film Visa Vie by Elan Gamaker which won a SAFTA in 2011 for Best Feature Film Music Composition.

Shane also writes and performs electronic dance music under the name Card on Spokes, with a 2nd EP coming out in late 2013.

Oscillations, the debut album by Shane Cooper

Oscillations, the debut album by Shane Cooper

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Jonas Gwangwa – Trombonist, Composer and Bandleader

Jonas Gwangwa - Trombonist, Composer and Bandleader

Jonas Gwangwa – Trombonist, Composer and Bandleader

Jonas Gwangwa (born: Jonas Mosa Gwangwa) has played an influential role in the evolution of South African jazz. A member, along with jazz pianist Abudllah Ibrahim (then, known as Dollar Brand), of the Jazz Epistles, the first Black South African to release an album, Gwangwa has gone on to become an award-winning composer.

In addition to composing the scores of such films as Cry Freedom, Generations and Othello, Gwangwa composed the theme music of South Africa’s Olympic bid in 1997. Gwangwa was one of many talented musicians mentored by South African alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi in the early-1950s. Following the disbanding of the Jazz Epistles in 1959, Gwangwa continued to make his presence known amongst South Africa’s jazz enthusiasts. His fame spread to the United States in the mid-1960s.

In 1965, Gwangwa was featured in a “Sound Of Africa” concert at Carnegie Hall, sharing the stage with Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Letta Mbulu. Two years later, he returned trio the United States to participate in a national tour, “The Main Event”, featuring Masekela and Herb Alpert. Despite his hefty reputation, Gwangwa remained a victim of apartheid. When the South African government passed laws making it illegal for Blacks to congregate, in the early 1970s, Gwangwa left his homeland. After touring Europe in a musical production of King Kong, he continued on to the United States, where he attended the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

With the encouragement and patronage of Harry Belafonte, Gwangwa was able to, successfully break through to American audiences. Continuing to break new ground as a composer and arranger, Gwangwa served ten years as musical director of the ANC cultural ensemble tour, “Amandla”. In 1987 and 1988, he collaborated with George Fenton to compose the score for the Richard Attenborough film, Cry Freedom. In addition to being nominated for Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe awards, the film received Ivor Bovello and Black Emmy awards. Gwangwa returned to South Africa in 1991. – By Craig Harris of the All Music Group

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SYDNEY MNISI – Saxophonist, composer & band Leader

SYDNEY MNISI - Saxophonist, composer & band Leader

SYDNEY MNISI – Saxophonist, composer & band Leader

Artistic genius, so the popular sentiment goes, always makes manifest of its self at a tender age, born Sydney Ace Mnisi in Edenvale (Dindela) JHB, Tembisa, Very rarely does one get into the game at a relatively advanced age and then fully blossom. But it does happen, once in a while. Ask those who have played with Sydney Mnisi, who have watched him at his most spiritual and possessed and ready to explore every musical note known and unknown to man, and they will tell you that yes, it does happen, once in a while.

Who would have guessed, 20 years ago, that this is the sort of man, the kind of artist that Mnisi would end up being? Because this is the man who waited until he was 28 (trumpeter, Clifford Brown, did not even live to be that old, but he had established himself as a major force in jazz by the time he died aged 26), to decide that his future lay in jazz, and that the tenor saxophone, was the instrument most suited to his unique, mellifluous voice. Today he is an accomplished and respected saxophonist who has played with the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim, Bheki Mseleku, Jonas Gwangwa, and Hugh Masekela, The late guitar maestro, Alan Kwela, and Caiphus Semenya, to name just a few; Recalling how he got into jazz, “it was a calling I could not resist. I mean I used to listen to guys like Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, and Dexter Gordon – all those giants. and there was always this thing that said I should also one day play this instrument.

When I decided to quit my job in 1988 (Mnisi had been working as a fitter and turner at the giant metals company, Scaw Metals), my family thought I was crazy. I took about R15000 of my savings – a substantial amount at the time – and enrolled at Fuba Music Academy before moving on to Pretoria Technikon”.

At last Mnisi has followed his dream, lending weight to the statement by Dexter Gordon that jazz is music that lives, “A music that since it’s, beginning has expressed the feelings the dreams, hopes, of the people” Elsewhere, the jazz enthusiast, Dudley Moloi, referred to jazz as akin to digging, like your whole life depends on it /You search in frustration /You hit it /But can’t get it /Eventually you get it, But in the meantime, the search continues /And the digging continues” Mnisi knows all about digging. He has been at it for twenty years now, and he feels that it’s About Time he brought out his own album. And hell it is, because time is of essence, Mnisi calls this a 20 years Celebration.

Visit Sydney’s Website at

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TUTU PUOANE – Vocalist

TUTU PUOANE - Vocalist

TUTU PUOANE – Vocalist

Vocalist TUTU PUOANE (pictured with proud papa Ewout Pierreux and baby Mpho) Tutu was born May 31st, 1979 in South Africa as Nontuthuzelo Elaine Puoane. She started playing music professionally in 1997 in down town Johannesburg, South Africa. Tutu studied jazz vocals with Jelena Reveshin, Natasha Roth-Scholfield and Rachel Gould. She played concerts in South Africa, Italy, New York, Germany, New Orleans, France, Belgium and Holland.

Tutu has performed extensively in South Africa with many great South African musicians. In 2001, she performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town, leading an afro-latino band, Tucan Tucan. Puoane toured New York in 2000 as vocalist with the South African National Youth Big Band of 1999. Tutu is currently the vocalist for the Frits Bayens Big Band of Breda, Netherlands.

Ms Puoane has received several awards from major South African Jazz Competitions. In 2000 she was awarded the Old Mutual Jazz encounters for Cape Region and in 2001 she received a merit award for young promising talent at the Daimler Chrysler South African Jazz Competition. In 2004, Tutu was the recepient of the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award for Music in South Africa. Tutu has shared the same stage with the likes of S’bongile Khumalo, Marcus Wyatt, Jack van Poll, Hein van de Geyn, Hans van Oosterhout, Dre Pallemaerts, Stacy Rowles, Mark Murphy, Madeline Bell, Georgie Fame, Roy Hargrove, John Engels and Toots Thielemans.

Tutu leads her own quartet with Belgian piano player Ewout Pierreux, Dutch bass player Guus Bakker and Dutch drummer Jasper van Hulten.

Nontuthuzelo’s Band – THE TRIO

Pianist EWOUT PIERREUX – 1978 te Halle, Belgium

From a very young age Ewout started playing piano and alto saxophone. He got a traditional training at the music academies of Halle and Gooik, where he graduated in 1996. As from that moment he chose for the piano and continued his studies at the jazz department of the Lemmensinstituut in leuven, where he was taught by great Dutch pianist Ron Van Rossum. He graduated in 2001. During his studies he followed masterclasses of a.o. Brad Mehldau, Bobo Stenson, Kenny Werner, Bruce Barth and Bill Carrothers. At this moment he’s teaching himself at the music academy of Sint-Agatha-Berchem and at the Kunsthumaniora (Antwerp).

He plays piano in the quartet Jazzisfaction and in t-unit 7, a new project of saxophonist Tom Van Dyck. He’s the regular pianist of a new big band project called ‘tuesday night orchestra’. As a leader he has his own trio (ep3) with Yannick Peeters on bass and Steven Cassiers on drums.
He also plays keys in the rockproject Upperlip Orchestra and he’s busy as a sideman in several projects, among which ‘Goddam: a tribute to dr. Nina Simone’. Ewout played concerts with the Brussels jazz Orchestra and the High Voltage Sextet and with a.o. Toots Thielemans, Frank Vaganée, Kurt Van Herck, Bart Defoort, Bert Joris, Philippe Aerts, Dré Pallemaerts, Martijn Vink… He played on major festivals such as the Blue Note Festival Ghent (Joost Zweegers Sings Chet Baker, 2005), Jazz Middelheim (Maria Schneider Big Band Workshop, 2001), Gaume Jazzfestival (Jazzisfaction, 2004), Park Jazz Kortrijk (Tutu Puoane Quartet, 2004) and is named as one of the promising Belgian young jazz pianists.

Drummer JASPER VAN HULTEN – 1981 te Breda, Nederland

Jasper started playing drums at age 7, getting a degree in classical percussion from the local ‘Koninklijke Harmonie Cecilia’ in 1990. After that he began taking lessons at the music school in Breda during, which made him discover a wide range of styles. At home his mom was a classical singer and his father played guitar and sang songs of the beatles and French chansons. All of this made him into an allround drummer, with interests from jazz to pop, latin, brasilian, classical, rock and R&B.

He studied at the Conservatory of Rotterdam, graduating in 2002 summa cum laude. Among his teachers were Hans van Oosterhout, Peter Ypma and Fred Krens. After finishing his studies, Jasper has been playing a lot around the Netherlands, gaining experience with Dick de Graaf, Michiel Borstlap, Bert van den Brink, Lydia van Dam, Harmen Fraanje, Angelo Verploegen and many others.

At this moment he’s the drummer of ‘Sensual’, ‘State of Monc’ and ‘Young Sinatra’s’. He’s playing on a regular basis with great musicians like a.o. Eric Vloeimans, Ad Colen and Jeroen van Vliet.

Bassist GUUS BAKKER – 1970 te Doesburg, Nederland

Guus started to play guitar at age 11 and dedicated himself to the electric bass at 14. In 1989, he started to study at the Rotterdam Conservatory with electric bass as his main subject ànd double bass, an entirely unknown instrument for him at that time. He was taught by Wim Essed, Koos Serierse and Pieter Douma. He graduated in 1996. Ever since then Guus has been active especially as a performing musician, both in the Dutch and Belgian music scene, besides some teaching at SKVR (Rotterdam) and at ‘de Stoep’ (Spijkenisse).

The Netherlands: E.T. (Jeroen van Vliet), Pascal Vermeer 5tet, DTX (a.o. Berthil Busstra, Spencer Croes). As freelancer with a.o. Michiel Borstlap, Eric Vloeimans, Dick De Graaf, Ben Van Den Dungen/Jarmo Hoogendijk.

Belgium: Frederic Delplanq 4tet, Robin Verheyen trio, Quintessence, Pentachrome, Bruno Vansina 4tet. As freelancer a.o. Kris Goessens, Bart Van Caenegem, Kurt van Herck, Tom Van Dyck, Dré Pallemaerts, Mimi Verderame, Teun Verbruggen.

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Though she lives and works in the U.K. she is a South African who is reaching for her own place in the wide world of international jazz. Passionate about music from her formative years, Alison grew up singing and performing in her native Johannesburg, South Africa. From appearing in musicals (and several on-screen appearances) in South Africa, Alison gained a wealth of experience, which in turn focused her interest in carving a career in the music industry. Keen to explore a variety of genres, Alison went on to perform lead vocals with a professional pop band, performing regularly in Pretoria. Alison later joined Johannesburg based “No Surprise” with whom she recorded original material and performed live in South Africa. However in ’93 a trip to Europe lay just around the corner and was to introduce Alison to her greatest musical passion, jazz.

After a brief spell in the UK Alison moved to Switzerland in 1996, it was there she became hooked on jazz. Inspired by jazz legends (including the late, great, Shirley Horn) and determined to learn as much as possible Alison began a formal education in music at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Zürich. She went on to study further with the renowned Zürich Jazz School and enrolled with the St Gallen Jazz School.

Alison then spent a number of years performing with the acclaimed Swiss jazz trio Inbetween as guest vocalist. She then formed her own successful jazz quartet and built up a loyal following in Switzerland prior to moving to the UK in 2005.

In 2006 Alison released her first cd, a five track EP entitled Introducing Alison Dewar. The cd captured a variety of moods and vocal styles from the joyously upbeat Star Eyes to an intensely reflective interpretation of the beautiful Horace Silver ballad Peace. Upon release the cd garnered critical acclaim and entered the Best Sellers list at Ray’s Jazz in Foyles, London steadily climbing to No.7 in their chart. In Europe Alison’s EP was voted cd of the week on Italian radio, and Softly became track of the week and month respectively on Italian and Greek radio, where the cd reached Top 20. Introducing Alison also received airplay in the US, France, Columbia and South Africa. Not one to rest on her laurels, Alison continues to develop and define her craft, always learning from great teachers and mentors including Al Jarreau, BB King, Bobby McFerrin, Jay Clayton, Sandy Patton, Sheila Jordan, Take 6 and The Jackson 5 Gospel Singers.

Jazzwise Magazine Review
This 5-track sampler from the South African-born singer Alison Dewar (the full debut release is scheduled for early next year) features an elegantly phrased version of ‘Softly as in a Morning Sunrise’, the dreamily impressionistic bossa nova ‘O Barquino’, pleasing interpretations of ‘Too Close for Comfort’ and ‘Peace’, plus what is the undoubted highlight, ‘Star Eyes’.

Whether by luck or design the singer has hooked up with a great team for her debut. The EP is co-produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Derek Nash (unconfirmed reports state that Nash, possibly the hardest working man on the UK scene, hasn’t seen daylight in over a decade), with excellent arrangements courtesy of ex-Incognito and George Benson pianist Graham Harvey. Chamberlain and Skelton are two highly dependable talents to have in the engine room. Dewar’s own talents include her clarity of line and artless approach to the lyric. In what is already an overcrowded field, one can only wish the singer well.

Peter Quinn, Jazzwise Magazine, UK (July 2006)

Vortex Review
If there are, broadly speaking, two types of jazz singer (the Ella Fitzgeralds/Stacey Kents, who prioritise the song rather than their emotions concerning it, and the Billie Holidays/Madeleine Peyroux, who basically do the opposite), then South African vocalist Alison Dewar, courtesy of her crystal-clear diction and unfussily straightforward approach to a lyric, is firmly in the former camp.

On this introductory EP, she is backed by a sparky but discreet band led by the impeccable pianist/arranger Graham Harvey, on a intelligently selected programme of standards (neat versions of Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise, Too Close for Comfort and Star Eyes), a pleasingly languorous bossa nova (O Barquino) and (a highlight) an absorbing visit to Horace Silver’s Peace, the long-held notes of which particularly suit her unaffected delivery.

An ear-catching sampler, Introducing will be followed by a debut CD release in early 2007.

Chris Parker, Vortex, London, UK (May 2006)

Vinilemania, Jazz Italia Review
Review by Fabrizio Ciccarelli

In her recording debut EP, Alison Dewar presents five of the most interesting pieces from the international music scene of jazz standard. Accompanied by instrumentalists of unquestionable calibre, she demonstrates vocal skills that are imbued with personality, marked by delicate and fluid phrasing, pleasing to the ear and beautifully pitched. All this as well as immediacy, a rounded brightness and mellow interpretation and style.

Alison manages to mould herself to the music that she performs without ever losing control, alternating continuously and successfully between tradition and innovation. Aided by the convincing arrangements from pianist Graham Harvey, of Incognito and George Benson fame, the melody’s expression is elevated.

The vocalist’s spontaneous execution thus gets the opportunity to shine through, ably supported by the timing of the rhythm section and the enveloping sax of Derek Nash, an artist who is both talented and capable of underscoring improvisation with a balanced sound, suitably devoid of any self-complacency.

For the rest, the interaction of the band brings out an exceptional sensitivity, revealing not only mastery of the instrument but also eclecticism in covering “evergreens” that are formally so different from each other, from the bossa nova of “O Barquinho” through the lyricism of Horace Silver’s unforgettable “Peace”, to “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise”, one of the most intense songs from Romberg and Hammerstein and the first track on the CD – in the writer’s opinion the most “composed” and structured in the strictly jazz sense.

So we wait in hope that Alison will continue to nurture her potential and will soon be back with another equally agreeable CD.

CD Wherehouse Review
Just when you thought you were getting more of the same thing in the field of Jazz vocal, in comes Alison Dewar with her beautiful and somewhat bright voice. It’s actually hard to believe this is her debut album with the expatriate South African songbird gliding through a seelction of jazz standards such as “Softly In A Morning Sunrise” with such conviction and intimacy.

Her arranger/pianist (Graham Harvey) laces the cuts with some hard swing and a thin stripe of modern touch. By any standard, a definite world class recording. If you haven’t heard her music, jump at the opportunity. If you have, consider yourself privileged.

Xolani Nxumalo, CD Wherehouse, South Africa (April 2006)

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Andile Yenana at work

Andile Yenana at work

“My interest in Jazz was triggered at a very early age and I guess my soul was nurtured in my formative years by all forms of urban black music – Motown, Philadelphia, South African Jazz, The Blues, Funk & Gospel.”

On completing his studies under the tutelage of Professor Darius Brubeck at Natal University, Andile moved to Johannesburg and began working with many of the seasoned musicians in the country, beginning with Zim Ngqawana. Zim and Andile have since recorded 2 CDs under Sheer Sound – San Song (Norwegian and South African collaboration) and Zimology. Zimology was also recorded in Norway. The Mahube project, the 12-piece collaboration of South African artists, is yet another big musical achievement in Andile’s career. Andile’s relationship with Steve Dyer (producer of Mahube) dates back as early as 1991 in Durban. Andile and Steve have been involved in many Star projects and tours throughout the whole of the sub-Saharan countries. Mahube is a culmination of all the work they have done together and more so the trust Steve has in Andile’s musical abilities.

Besides the afore-mentioned personalities, he has worked extensively with legendary musicians such as Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi, Mike Makhalemele, Barney Rachabane and Stompie Manana. His musical talents have also been put to good use by vocalists such as Sibongile Khumalo, Gloria Bosman.and Suthukazi Arosi. Most recently, Andile has been the co-producer on Winston Mankunku Ngozi’s newest release, “Abantwana be Afrika”.

1996 was a good year for Andile, he took part in a tour of Chicago with Zim Ngqawana; the theme was “Black History Month.” Andile has since been to Chicago twice for an extensive tour of the Midwest in 1997.

He was also involved in a project that was a collaboration between South African and British Jazz musicians; this band was formed primarily in England and played at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They received rave reviews from the press in London. After the concert in London, the South African contingent, led by Zim Ngqawana, went on to play in France at Fin de Siecle (a South African music festival in Nantes).

Andile’s quest to find a voice and chemistry in a group set-up led to the creation of Voice. The infectious passion and love of jazz projected by Herbie Tsoaeli, the resilience and inspiration from Sydney Mnisi, the wealth of life experience in the music projected by ther late Lulu Gontsana and Morabo Morojele and the undaunted spirit of Marcus Wyatt resulted in the recording of Voice: A Quintet Legacy. Voice has recently released their acclaimed second album, “Songs for our Grandchildren – Quintet Legacy Vol. 2”.

Andile recorded his debut solo album, “We Used To Dance” with Sheer Sound; this long awaited album features Feya Faku, Sydney Mnisi, Kevin Gibson and Herbie Tsoaeli. The music shared by Voice served as a launching pad for this solo project. “We Used to Dance” was nominated for a SAMA 9 award in the category of Best South African Jazz Album.

For more information contact: Sheer Sound,
Tel: +27 11 444-1818, Fax: +27 11 444-2275, Email:

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JEFF MALULEKE – Vocalist, Composer

JEFF MALULEKE - Vocalist, Composer

JEFF MALULEKE – Vocalist, Composer

Jeff Maluleke is back full force! His latest album simply titled “A Twist of Jeff” is a resounding release with songs for all ages, stages and colours of life. These are great summer up-tempo feelings, with Latin influences, heartfelt ballads – an album that can get any party rocking, or any quiet gathering listening intently.

The album is produced by Musa Manzini and Lawrence Matchiza, and with a great cast of equally talented musicians, a true return to form for this amazing award winning vocalist and composer.

The History:
Jeff Maluleke was born and raised in semi-rural South Africa, Bushbuckridge in the heart of Mpumalanga Province in the Northern region of the country. From his days as a youth in this region his interest in music was apparent from an early age, and a firm foundation was set for his musical career.

Having completed his studies Jeff moved to Johannesburg where he attended an engineering course at Primitive Studios. During the course he met Dr. Victor who hired him as a backing vocalist for the Rasta Rebels. Jeff was then invited to write a track with Dr. Victor and together they came up with “I Miss Your Love” which was released on the album “One Goal, One Wish”.

His solo musical career began in earnest in September of 1995 when Jeff approached the CCP record company with a rough four-track demo containing what was to become the starting point for HAGONYA. Gone was the township pop of Papa Jeff which had already earned him a gold record (with sales upwards of 30 000 units) and in its place was a new sound that Jeff saw as the future direction of his music. The quality of music attracted some of SA’s finest musicians to do session work.

About the debut album “That’s The Way” Jeff had the following to say: “Underneath the sadness in this album lies a message of hope.” Say Jeff; “If you cannot find it in the lyrics then you will feel it in the music. I have tried to present African music in a form that will make it accessible to all and hopefully bring people to realise that it is not only for Africans, but for the world to enjoy.” This is still true to the music that Jeff makes to the current day.

Some time later, on his recent tour to South Africa Jackson Browne required the services of a support act who could meet his very high standards. Of the several prominent acts submitted for his perusal he chose Jeff Maluleke. The relationship was highly successful with Jeff Maluleke closing out their tour by performing two of Jackson’s tracks with him on the final night.

The album entitled Dzovo, was a brilliant combination of African and Western influences drawing on the inspirations of Mbaqanga, Kwassa Kwassa, melancholy folk, pop ballads, and funky Latin beats with lyrics in English, Zulu and the poetic Tsonga vernacular. Jeff’s touching melodic vocals and hook – jammed choruses, coupled with a prominent acoustic thread is carried throughout by the guitars of Ntokozo and Andy Innes, make “DZOVO” a memorable addition to all record collections.

Since then Jeff has released the resounding KILIMANJARO and MAMBO to great acclaim and radio support. The threads that were sewn so early in his life, attempting to create a universally appealing African sound that all can enjoy, were used to their fullest and saw wide appeal to various different markets with this album.

Jeff’s 2004 release, namely Ximatsatsa, is along these lines, but has a slight diversion with all of the lyrics in Tsonga (Shangaan), Jeff’s home language, and not mixed like his previous albums with elements of English and Swahili amongst others. Also the musical nature of the release sees some diversion. Still very much groove based and up-tempo, Jeff keeps it sweet and simple here, as less is so often more. Containing original compositions as well as some adaptations of traditional songs there is something for everyone to enjoy here and the messages are all very apt for the festive season (with many weddings and celebations) that we now enter.

Jeff’s status as a live performing artist had also progressed. He has performed and continues to perform at events such as the Standard Bank Jazz Festivals, which have been headlined by the likes of Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo. In fact these were early beginnings and Jeff has proudly held his own on stage performing alongside such greats as: Oliver Mtukudzi, Salif Keita, Femi Kuti, Andy Narell, Richard Bona, Jonas Gwangwa, Tsepo Tshola … the list is endless, you name them, Jeff has been there and impressed all!

SAMA 10 Award – 2003/4 (Best Composer) –album MAMBO
KORA AWARD – 2003 – (Best Video) – MAMBO
SAMA 8 Award – 2001/2 (Best Contemporary African album) – KILIMANJARO
KORA AWARD – 2002 – (Revelation of the Year) – KILIMANJARO
SAMA 7 –2000/1 – Best Producer – album Juliana

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Stix Hojeng was born to music in the small mining town of Kimberley, not far from the Big Hole. His mother was a vocalist; his father played the trumpet and his brother played drums. Stix’s first love affair was with the guitar, when he was just twelve years old. But the piano won his heart and he now plays keyboard for Miriam Makeba among others.

He has played with some of South Africa’s greatest talents, including Jimmy Dludlu, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Tsepo Tshola, Dr Victor and the late Brenda Fassie. He also played with the band CC Beat. And with Dludlu, Frank Paco and John Nassan, he was a founder member of the band Loading Zone. Later he joined another group, Africa OYe, and with this band produced an album called Moment of Truth.

For more read his CD review by Brian Hough on this website

Interview with Stix Hojeng by Brian Hough

On first meeting Stix Hojeng, one is bowled over by his humility, ready smile, self-effacing humour, and relaxed energy. We met in an Italian coffee shop and to my surprise Stix ordered a cappuccino and bowl of soup. So, the man is unconventional, and entertaining, and for the next hour I listened fascinated as Stix outlined his journey of jazz.

As a 12-year, he was knocked out by the return of a long lost uncle whose guitar skills were formidable. Such was the experience that Stix abandoned his plans to be a drummer, and started on the guitar immediately.

Although his early influences came from the Bee Gees, Abba, and whatever was a ’hit’ on local radio, he soon fell under the spells generated by Chick Corea, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and local jazz musos.

Stix has spent much of his life travelling in the UK, Europe, and USA and one can hear the influences from those countries when listening to him play.

His CD, is reviewed on this website provides a fascinating insight into his styles, and eclectic gathering of tunes. He spends most of his time at the keyboard where he composes, writes, arranges, produces, and even markets his endeavours. Copies of his album can be ordered directly from Stix by writing to him at:

Contact Details:
Brian Hough – E-mail: – Snailmail: Box 320 Bruma Johannesburg 2026 South Africa Tel/Fax: 27+11+622-1519 – Cell: 27+83+262-2333

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RUS NERWICH – Project Founder and Director, Saxophonist

RUS NERWICH - Project Founder and Director, Saxophonist

RUS NERWICH – Project Founder and Director, Saxophonist

An artist of high integrity and sensitivity, Rus Nerwich has a reputation for being an innovative and dedicated musician. Committed to using music as a vehicle to uplift, communicate and empower, Nerwich is highly regarded by both musicians and the listening public, his album “Beyond the Walls” is recognized to be one of the most interesting and daring musical works to come out of South Africa in recent years. Nerwich has recently released an album of new work, from a project called entitled “Mantras4ModernMan”. Recent highlight performances were at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival as well as The Spier Arts Festival.

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JAMES SCHOLFIELD – Guitarist, composer, band leader

JAMES SCHOLFIELD - Guitarist, composer, band leader

JAMES SCHOLFIELD – Guitarist, composer, band leader

James grew up in Cape Town, South Africa (after appearing initially at a Manchester hospital in the UK).

After trying hand (and lips) at a number of musical instruments went for the guitar as this seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Hanging out at the Jazz Workshop in Cape Town got to learn a lot and meet plenty of musicains from all over the place. Spent many teenage years hanging out at the local jazz gigs and watching the older cats play.

Amazing players like Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Jonathan Butler, Basil Moses, John Fourie, Merton Barrow. In between lots of playing with lots of musicians eg: Billy Hart (Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock and many more) Hein Van De Geyn (Dee Dee Bridgewater, John Abercrombie, Hein is also head of Challenge Jazz) Natascha Roth, Andrew Lilley, Coleman Mellet (Chuck Mangione), Jeanie Bryson (Terrance Blanchard, Grover Washington), Hotep Idris Galeta (Jackie Mclain), Winston Mankunku Ngozi, John Fourie, Jack Van Poll, Stacey Rowles, Paul Hamner, Gavin Minter, Philip Aertes to name a few.

Since 2003 James has been getting around Europe South Africa and the US. He still would like to go to South America and the Far East and is working on it.

Also check out – visit

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NATASHA ROTH – Vocalist, Bandleader, Composer, Teacher

NATASHA ROTH - Vocalist, Bandleader, Composer, Teacher

NATASHA ROTH – Vocalist, Bandleader, Composer, Teacher

Natascha is a jazz singer who has contributed so much to the South African Jazz scene and has performed all over South Africa including many years teaching at the University of Cape Town, where she has helped to produce some of South Africa’s leading voices in Jazz.

Recently Natascha was one of the vocalists featured at the Melodi International Jazz Festival 2007 in South Africa – together with the legendary Zulu Vocal Trio Mahotella Queens, 4 times SAMA award winner Simphiwe Dana and R&B star Lira as well as Cuban piano player Ramon Valle and jazz legend Pharao Sanders. In the USA Natascha has performed alongside the great jazz singer Jeanie Bryson, daughter of the late Dizzy Gillespie.

Natascha is the daughter of well-known German political journalist Thomas Roth, former bureau chief of German TV Johannesburg, later head of ARD Haupstadt Studio Berlin and currently chief correspondent for German Television in Moscow.

Growing up in Germany as a teenager Natascha was discovered by director Stephan Barbarino and featured in his production for the Staatstheater Stuttgart of Brecht’s “Baal”, performing alongside great actors such as Andrea Sawatzki and Johannes Silberschneider.

Later Natascha studied musical theatre at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna (AU) and completed a masters degree in Jazz Vocals at the University of Graz (AU) with Jazz singers Mark Murphy, Andy Bey, Jay Clayton, Sheila Jordan and Michele Hendricks.


Natascha is truly a world musician, singing in many different languages from Brazilian Portuguese, English and various European languages to the languages of Africa like Xhosa, Zulu, Pedi and Swahili.

Africa has been Natascha’s home for many years and she draws inspiration from the wealth of vocal tradition that emanates from the diverse cultures that exist on this continent.

Natascha, like her music, is not restricted by borders and travels regularly to different parts of the world to perform and to share her experience. The result being a unique way of combining different traditions of music and her global repertoire of songs.

Natascha has remained an individualist with a deep emotional connection to her material, which translates to a joyous and sincere live performance experience.

“The (Cd “Everything I love”)…is startling in its musical precision and complexity, while their musical sensitivity epitomizes the beauty of the jazz duo” (Program Standard Bank Jazz Festival, RSA 2007).

“…light and swinging her incredibly flexible voice…softly she lures the audience into the song…then her voice drops to unexpected lows and depth” (Koehler, HN-Stimme_04.12.04)

” …with all her professionalism, her singing is relaxed…she masters the scat of an Ella Fitzgerald effortlessly…a lot of feeling for tradition”. (Günther Currle, Göppingen_GP-Kult03).

“It’s All About sharing the Passion”

“South Africa has a seemingly endless resource of incredible vocal talent! If you are passionate about the human voice, like I am, it is very special to be surrounded by so much talent and beauty!”(N.R.)

For many years Natascha has been involved in sharing her passion for voice with other singers: “Helping young vocalists to develop their individual musicianship and watching them grow into skilled performers has been enormously exciting.”

Teaching at Universities in South Africa and Europe as well as at various national and international jazz workshops, Natascha has helped young singers to develop individual skills and confidence.

Some of South Africa’s young and leading singers of today have mentioned Natascha as one of their mentors and inspirations.

Award Winning SA Students:
• Monique Hellenberg: Winner SAMRO Jazz Vocal 2007, National Youth Jazz Band 2007, National Youth Big Band 2004, UCT Graduate.

• Lisa Bauer: 2nd pl. SAMRO Jazz Vocal 2007, UCT Graduate.

• Mimi Ntenjwa: Standard Bank National Youth Band 2004, UCT Graduate.

• Abigail Petersen: Winner SAMRO Jazz Vocal 2003, Jazz Impressions 2003, UCT Graduate, UCT Lecturer jazz voice.

• Nonthutuselo Puoane: Semifinalist International Brussels Jazz Competition 2006. 2nd pl. SAMRO Jazz Vocal 2003, Winner Regional Old Mutual Jazz Competition,.

• Lindiwe Maxolo: Winner Regional Old Mutual African Jazz 2002, UCT Graduate.

• Zukiswa Nomtshongwana: Winner National Old Mutual African Jazz Voice 2001, UCT Graduate.

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JOHNNY FOURIE – Mentor, teacher, guitarist and songwriter

JOHNNY FOURIE - Mentor, teacher, guitarist and songwriter

JOHNNY FOURIE – Mentor, teacher, guitarist and songwriter

Johnny Fourie – a detailed biography first published in Rootz Magazine 2002
By Jonathan Crossley

“Johnny Fourie is one of the greatest guitar players of our epoque”
John McLaughlin, 21st June 2002.

When still at school, and studying classical guitar, I expressed a desire to study under Johnny Fourie. I brought this up with my guitar teacher of the time, who expressed certain preconceptions surrounding Fourie’s teaching, and other unrelated idiosyncrasies. A second and later attempt with another teacher also met a similar response.

I finally began lessons with Fourie in 1998, and over the past years have discovered that this gentle, caring and above all honest man is definitely the subject of many urban legends. Hopefully, this article will arouse some new interest, and perhaps put a few truths on record.

Johnny Fourie was born Jan Carel Fourie in the Postmansburg district of Hay in the Western Cape on the eighteenth of May 1937. His earliest recollections are of his father going to fight in the Second World War, and of growing up on a farm with his grandparents. He remembers already having expressed the desire to play the guitar by the age of four but his mother was unable to purchase one for him. His parents separated when he was six years old and his mother moved the small family to the east-rand town of Benoni where she worked as a seamstress. She also played the accordion and encouraged Fourie’s musical development by purchasing a guitar.

It was while living in Benoni that Fourie was introduced to American films. On Saturdays he would ‘slip into the movie house’, and watch films for the better part of the day. Through these films Fourie was introduced to country music, as well as many of the great swing ballads and show tunes that would become part of his staple repertoire. But his first real listening experience of jazz came in 1949, with a radio show by the George Shearing quintet. In fact this show made such an impression on Fourie that he still recalls the personnel; George Sherring on piano, Chuck Wayne on guitar, Marjorie Haymes on vibraphone, Vernel Fournier on drums and Denzil Best on bass. The very next day Fourie was at the local bicycle shop, where he could buy 78’ shellac records, and got his hands on this recording, which he then took home and set about mastering every nook and cranny of the disc.

He delved into many recordings over the next few years, and absorbed recordings by Barney Kessel, Oscar Moore, Johnny Smith and Mundell Lowe, to name but a few. By the age of fourteen he had already decided to turn professional and managed to mislead his mother into allowing him to enrol at the Benoni engineering college with the real intent of quitting later. After three months at the college he found a way out, and moved to Brixton Johannesburg to embark on his professional career.

His early professional endeavours saw him moving in the boermusiek circles, between bands run by Nico Carstens, Jurie Ferreira and Hendric Susan as well as a number of sessions for Gallo records for the likes of the Manhattan Brothers and Sam Sklair. The gigs consisted of popular boeremusiek numbers of the day but Fourie’s heart was already in jazz and he was fired on more than one occasion for playing what his ears told him to. This love for jazz was to draw him to London, and recognition. In 1961 Fourie got a gig playing on a boat en route to London; there was a three-day stop over in London, after which he flew back overland to Johannesburg. He says ‘What I saw in Soho forced me to leave in November on a boat destined for London with my wife a baby and about two hundred rand’

His first gig in London was with an Eastern European violinist who needed a guitar player for a restaurant gig, The Blue Boar Inn, where Fourie had to dress in a Robin Hood style outfit while supporting this Gypsy violinist! Fortunately it wasn’t long before Fourie was able to leave this gig. Through a South African friend, who was a roadie for the Ray Ellington Quartet, it came to Fourie’s attention that there might be a guitar position available in this quartet, as their current guitarist was problematic. Although Ellington liked Fourie’s guitar style, he didn’t get the job at first, because he couldn’t read the charts. When the replacement guitarist proved unreliable, Ellington’s piano player persuaded him to try to use Fourie by offering him the opportunity to memorise the music.

Playing with the Ellington band proved to be the turning point in Fourie’s career. By touring around the United Kingdom for two years, Fourie’s playing ability was recognised by the jazz public, as well as the press. The recognition that Fourie received through his performances with the Ray Ellington group brought his playing to the attention of Ronnie Scott, owner and manager of the famous London based jazz club, The Ronnie Scott Club. Scott approached Fourie to take up a residency there, and Fourie was offered the post for five nights per week. Interestingly John McLaughlin, who was a close friend of Fourie’s, took over the guitar post in Ellington’s group and Fourie was responsible for teaching McLaughlin the group’s specific arrangements. McLaughlin says ‘I was working with a Rhythm and Blues band, which I was not very enthusiastic about and Johnny did not like his job at the time, so we just traded jobs.’

While working at Ronnie Scott’s club Fourie was exposed to numerous famous musicians and groups, many of who were to be influential in the development of his style. Bill Evans, Jim Hall, Rene Thomas, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Roland Kirk and Sonny Rollins are just a few important names. Although Fourie became quite a name in the UK, he felt that times were changing and that players like Coltrane and Davis were changing the face of jazz. He became increasingly unhappy about his current musical position and decided to give up everything, return to South Africa, and spend time studying to expand his musical goals.

After a brief stint back in England in the late 1960’s and then another brief time back in South Africa, Fourie went to New York in 1971 to play fusion. His search ‘came from trying to find freedom, freedom within and without the structure, this was the search for the Holy Grail.’ Once in New York he made immediate contact with his old friend, John McLaughlin, and remembers going to the launch of McLaughlin’s album ‘The Inner Mounting Flame’ at the famous club, ‘My Father’s Place’. McLaughlin was busy with his own band and he asked Fourie to stand in for him on the Charles Erland recording, “Intensity”. The album featured Charles Erland on organ, Hubert Laws on flute, Fourie on guitar and Billy Cobham on drums, as well as many other players. The pieces were long funk-based improvisatory works and called for Fourie’s new improvisation techniques as well as the use of his prized fuzz box. After this session Billy Cobham recommended Fourie to Clive Stevens for his group Atmospheres. John Abercrombie was leaving this band and Fourie took the post for roughly a twelve-month period performing at many famous jazz venues.

Although he was now set for a promising career, even auditioning for Chick Corea’s second Return To Forever band, he only came to America on a three-month visitors visa and application for an extension was turned down. He continued to try and work illegally, but was eventually deported to South Africa in 1974.

The period since his return has been characterised by continuous growth through his involvement with a wide variety of bands, performing with many top South African artists. Of particular importance is the wide influence Johnny Fourie has had spreading the tradition of jazz guitar through working with many musicians, as well as taking younger musician’s under his wing. A significant period was devoted to the development of the ‘Johnny Fourie Band’ (1979-1985), featuring his son Sean Fourie on keys, Raymond Boschoff on drums and Chris Bekker on bass.

During the late 80s, Fourie performed in Carlo Mombelli’s group ‘The Abstractions’, playing complex and modern jazz inspired by the sounds of the German ECM label. Fourie feels this group was extremely important, both to him and to the South African jazz scene. While the JFB band had been free and uncompromising, this band took what they were learning to a new level. The heads of the works were often complex and detailed, while the improvisatory sections offered a lot of freedom to the soloist and were not limited in length.

Two things took up his focus in the 1990’s. Firstly his new job as teacher at the Pretoria Technikon Jazz Department, and secondly the formation of the Short Attention Span Ensemble. This fusions group performed original works by Sean Fourie and Johnny, and played many festivals and events throughout South Africa, releasing their debut disc ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ in 1997. The band featured Johnny, Sean, Barry van Zyl, Trevor don Jeany, and British saxophonist Dave O’Higgans. But the majority of his energies over the past number of years have gone into his students, and it is in these students that his legacy will live on.

Fourie has never really received the amount of attention he deserves. He was never politically outspoken, and has no interest in being so. While he never approved of the systems in place his protest was a quiet one, working with all the musicians from all the backgrounds that would play with him. The list is endless; Allan Kwela, Errol Dyers, Bob Mintzer, Cyril Mgubane, Nico Carstens, Johnny Boschoff, Robert Payne, Bob Zotolla, Carlo Mombelli, Barney Rashabane, Groove Holmes, Avzal Ismail, Wessel van Rensburg, Gilbey Karno, Jack van Pohl and many, many more. His focus has always been the music, the advancement of it, taking our sounds to the next generation, and above all: playing, playing, playing jazz!

Thanks to Jonathan Crossley and Roots Magazine

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AYA – Vocalist, Actress

AYA - Vocalist, Actress

AYA – Vocalist, Actress

Into the space between the jazzy torch songs of old, and a fresh homegrown infusion of earthy self-penned compositions, comes A STATE OF AYA.

The artist behind the album is Aya – and is her sonic “state of mind” that she is showcasing on her debut solo album. The often jubilant, fun and sweetly sophisticated jazz sounds allow her distinct vocals to shine – unveiling a scintillating new talent on South African scene.

A truly lively album – from the jaunty, sax-punctuated sounds of ‘Shame On You’ (Ngiyakudabukela) to the soul-stirring, Gospel-drenched magnificence of ‘Ngcwele’ and the elegant ‘Japanese Blue’, A STATE OF AYA maps out the musical ground that this prodigiously talented individual occupies.

Says Aya: “The album is a representation of my identity, the music I love, the songs that have influenced me, my direction and the dreams that I hold.”

It’s not going to be long before Aya imprints herself into the lives of music fans around the country and beyond – a destiny that she’s long-known is where her own personal state of being lies.

Born Ayanda Mpama, the 23-year-old has been waiting in the wings for several years, ready to make an impression on the recording industry. Aya’s work in stage performance, numerous intimate live gigs in Durban and a degree in Music and Drama from the University of Natal (now the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal) have all assisted Aya in shaping the musical vision that is contained in her debut album.

That Aya’s sweet, soulful voice may be familiar to South Africans can be put down to her selection as a Top 10 Idols finalist in 2005. Says Aya: “That was an experience but not something that I am holding onto. The real benefit of the Idols experience was connecting with Dave Thompson who has helped nurture my recording career.”

Indeed, Thompson knew right from the moment he first heard Aya sing that hers was a special talent – and when Aya moved to Johannesburg, the A & R and Marketing head of Sony BMG wasted no time in inking a deal with the artist.

Right from the onset, Aya wanted a “fresh, jazzy sound – close to the old standards but relevant to who I am as well as the audience that I am playing to.”

Fine-tuning the sound that appears on A STATE OF AYA was no easy task. “I’m a diverse kind of girl – I think in both Zulu and English, I was born in Swaziland, lived in Zambia and spent much of my childhood in Durban and I am as much an urban girl as a rural one so that needed to be reflected in the music,” she exclaims, her trademark laugh rippling around her words.

In conversation, Aya is magnetic – unafraid to voice her opinions, singularly focused and full of what can only be described as a thoroughly engaging zest for life. Whether it’s recounting stories of living in a rural community for several weeks, or the downside of plying your singing trade in a restaurant where people are there for the food, Aya is capable of holding the attention of her listener.

But, she confesses, it’s in the studio and on the stage that she really comes alive. “I could not have waited much longer for this moment,” she says, “and am eternally grateful that I was able to find the right people to work with in creating an album that I am so very proud of.”

Aya found “a wonderful” creative collaborator in Crighton Goodwill who both produced and co-wrote the material on the album. “I attempt to play the piano so most of my songs were melodies and lyrics that existed in my head. Crighton came in with the strong musicality and arrangement ideas and was able to flesh out these ideas. It was amazing feeling – it is like seeing a baby that grows and all of a sudden becomes a person that is alive and fully-formed and strong.”

Several of the songs were sourced from an international publisher, including ‘I Don’t Want To See You Cry’ and ‘Japanese Blue’, a gentle, inspirational song that Aya says is one of her favourites on the album.

Those that Aya and Goodwill wrote deal primarily with issues of gender and relationships – in particular, a woman’s role in the world on songs like ‘Ntombi’ and ‘As A Woman’. It’s not surprising considering Aya is an only child who spent most of her childhood in with her mother – her father having died in 1992. “We are very close – we talk at least three times a day so I guess a lot of my lyrics that revolve around lyrics are down to her as a role-model.”

Given Aya’s academic background, it is not surprising to find that the thread that connects the songs on the album is a sense of sophistication; a jazziness that is underpinned by a soulfulness that only comes from a place of authenticity.

Aya’s very natural ability to switch between English and Zulu only adds to the album’s appeal. “I know just instinctively which words need to be conveyed in which language and I do think that the choice adds to the impact of the lyrics and the songs,” she says.

Listening to A STATE OF AYA confirms this: one of the album’s standout tracks, ‘Thula Nhiliziyo Yami’ is an organic mix of English and Zulu, its understated beauty enhanced by a piano melody and horn playing that once again signifies the album’s retro mood.

The composition, ‘Everyday’ is another gem that provides the perfect platform for Aya to let her spirit fly through a song whose simplicity is part of its charm.

Aya’s ability to convey emotions, like love gone wrong on the ballad ‘I Don’t Want To See You Cry’, is a highpoint of A STATE OF AYA yet her innate feel for a song means she never veers into histrionics, preferring instead to let subtle intonation bring the message home.

Authentic, fresh, full of young life yet imbued with a sense of history, and with just enough sophistication to take it across generations, A STATE OF AYA is bound to be an integral part of the collection of South Africa’s discerning music lovers.

Aya intends supporting the release of her debut with a slate of live performances – and she is up for the challenge of winning over audiences. “If I can do it in front of a supper crowd and on national television in the pretty weird scenario that was Idols, then I think that I can convince an audience who appreciates fine music that mine is well worth the listen,” she says.

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