Tag Archives: entertainment

Anat Cohen and Her Jazz Clarinet – NYTimes.com

Anat Cohen and Her Jazz Clarinet

Anat Cohen and Her Jazz Clarinet

In search of some live Brazilian music a few months ago, I found my way to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, in the Time Warner Center, where the Brazilian percussionist Duduka Da Fonseca was leading a quintet. I can’t say I knew much about Mr. Da Fonseca before I heard his band that night, and among the things I didn’t know was that his quintet’s regular reed player was a 38-year-old Israeli woman named Anat Cohen, who has lived in New York since 1999.

On the first few tunes of the set — mostly the kind of fast-paced, Brazilian-tinged jazz I’ve always loved — Ms. Cohen played the reed instrument most closely associated with postwar jazz: the tenor saxophone. It was immediately apparent that she was a terrific musician, fluid, full-throated, with a knack for creating beautifully crafted, even eloquent solos. Around the fifth song, however, the quintet began playing “Chorinho pra Ele,” a simple, infectious samba by Hermeto Pascoal, the great Brazilian multi-instrumentalist. And that’s when Ms. Cohen did something you rarely see a jazz reed player do these days. She took out her clarinet.

As good as her saxophone playing was, Ms. Cohen on the clarinet was a revelation. Using the clarinet’s upper register, she could evoke infectious joy. In the lower register, her playing could conjure a deep, soulful melancholy. On up-tempo numbers, her improvisations weren’t just bebop fast; they had a clarity and deep intelligence that is really quite rare. She made it look effortless, even as she was playing the most technically difficult of all the reed instruments. She only played a handful of songs on the clarinet that night, but every time she did, she took my breath away.

Read more at Anat Cohen and Her Jazz Clarinet – NYTimes.com.

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Jazz Great Hugh Masekela, Fresh Because He’s Fascinated: NPR

Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela

“I was a good boy,” South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela assures NPR’s Michel Martin. But still, he says, “as a kid, I was whipped on a slow day at least three times.”

Still Grazing

Still Grazing

Eventually, Masekela told his chaplain, “If I can get a trumpet, Father, I won’t bother anybody.”

His wish came true.

Within a few years, Louis Armstrong, who’d heard of a talented kid in South Africa, sent the boy his own trumpet. Photographer Alf Kumalo captured Masekela’s joy at receiving that gift in an iconic photograph. But Masekela says he has always hated that image: “I lost a girlfriend through that picture,” he says. “You know, we were very cool at that time, so that was a very uncool picture.” She told him she couldn’t be seen with him.

“Barefootin’ with your pants rolled up — I mean, how country can you get?” he says.

Read more at Jazz Great Hugh Masekela, Fresh Because He’s Fascinated : NPR.

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Cape Town International Jazz Festival Day 1 | Ottawa Citizen

It’s just after 6 p.m. on the Friday night that tens of thousands of music fans from across South Africa and beyond have long been looking forward to.

In the Cape Town International Convention Centre’s largest and most cavernous meeting room, several thousand people, all primed to party, are on their feet, waiting to hear the tremendously popular Afro-pop group Mafikizolo open the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

Fan fever is growing by increments. The group has been announced, the backing musicians have begun playing, but the group’s stars — singers Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza — haven’t yet emerged from back stage. They milk the moment for all it’s worth, appearing at last and one by one to raucous cheers, only after three backup singers and a foursome of dancers, all sharply dressed with glamourous, retro appeal, have preceded them.

Read more at Cape Town International Jazz Festival Day 1 | Ottawa Citizen.

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Jazz Reviews: The Laura Nyro Project Mark Winkler – By Christopher Loudon — Jazz Articles

Mark Winkler - The Laura Nyro Project

Mark Winkler – The Laura Nyro Project

When Mark Winkler, a quintessentially West Coast swinger, filled an album with Bobby Troup tunes a decade ago, it was a blissful marriage of hipster sensibilities. Winkler and Laura Nyro seem stranger bedfellows—California cool meets East Coast boho—yet Winkler, a gifted writer himself, makes the union work equally well. Nor was Nyro all dark-basement angst. Less hard-edged than such contemporaries as Dylan and Paul Simon, she, like Joni Mitchell, tended to float beyond category, blending a heady potpourri of folk, pop, jazz and show tunes. When that crazy mélange is filtered through Winkler’s laidback aesthetic, the results are quite magical.

Winkler draws exclusively from Nyro’s first four albums, spanning the years 1967 through 1970, when many of the songs became best known via Top 40 cover versions from the likes of Blood, Sweat and Tears and the Fifth Dimension. Ably supported by a shifting cast that includes pianists Eli Brueggemann and Eric Reed and guitarist Larry Koonse, all of whom also contribute arrangements, he follows the lead of those long-ago pop groups by making each of these 11 tunes distinctly his own. So, “Time and Love” is reinterpreted as a dreamy ballad; “He’s a Runner” emerges as an intensely personal tale of betrayal; the wine-steeped “Sweet Blindness” erupts as a riotous party worthy of Louis Prima; and the jaunty post-Kennedy politics of “Save the Country” become a salve for various postmillennial malaises.

via Jazz Reviews: The Laura Nyro Project Mark Winkler – By Christopher Loudon — Jazz Articles.


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Jazz Articles: CMA Announces Grants to Jazz Presenters – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles

Chamber Music America (CMA) has announced the recipients of its 2013 Presenting Jazz program, a series of grants supporting concert presenters that engage U.S.-based jazz ensembles.

According to a press release, “A total of $116,875 will be distributed to 11 non-profit presenting organizations to assist with concert-associated costs. In addition, each grantee will receive $5,000 to support general operating expenses related to their jazz programming.” CMA describes itself as “the national network for ensemble musicians.”

Mary Halvorson

Mary Halvorson

The 2013 Presenting Jazz Grantees are: The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, presenting the Claudia Quintet; Carnegie Hall, presenting the Vijay Iyer Trio; The Flushing Council for the Arts and Culture, presenting Jason Kao Hwang and Edge+4; the Jazz Bakery, presenting the Dafnis Prieto Sextet; Outpost Productions, presenting the Mary Halvorson Quintet; Outsound Presents, presenting Kyle Bruckmann’s Wrack; Roulette Intermedium, presenting the Joel Harrison Group; the Rubin Museum of Art, presenting the Samuel Torres Group; San Jose Jazz, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio; Stanford Live, presenting William Parker’s Special Edition; and the Walker Art Center, presenting the Craig Taborn Trio.

For a more information, visit ChamberMusic.org.

via Jazz Articles: CMA Announces Grants to Jazz Presenters – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles.

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Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett Set to Record Jazz Album in June | Music News | Rolling Stone

Tony Bennett. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Amy Winehouse Foundation

Tony Bennett. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Amy Winehouse Foundation

The hip injury that led to Lady Gaga’s canceled world tour last month will not prevent her from recording a jazz album with Tony Bennett as scheduled, Bennett told Rolling Stone in an interview Thursday in New York.

“We’re working on it from now until June, and then we’ll record in June. She’s phenomenal,” he said during a dinner at the Amy Winehouse Gala and Inspiration Awards, which recognized him with a Lifetime Achievement honor. “I get along great with her. She’s looking forward to it and so am I.”

Inspired by their lone collaboration, “The Lady Is a Tramp” for Bennett’s Duets II album, the pair plan to expand on their relationship when they enter a studio in Astoria, Queens. “Once you have an idea, then you go for it,” Bennett said. While they have not settled on a producer, Dae Bennett and Phil Ramone worked on the 2011 song.

via Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett Set to Record Jazz Album in June | Music News | Rolling Stone.

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Gladys Knight and Jill Scott to play 2013 Hampton Jazz Festival – dailypress.com

Gladys Knight entertains at the 2003 Hampton Jazz Festival. She's set to return for the 2013 edition of the festival. (Dave Bowman, Daily Press)

Gladys Knight entertains at the 2003 Hampton Jazz Festival. She’s set to return for the 2013 edition of the festival. (Dave Bowman, Daily Press)

The 2013 Hampton Jazz Festival will bring popular favorites Gladys Knight, George Benson and Jill Scott back to Hampton Coliseum while elevating local acts Forte and Karla Crump onto the main stage.

“We were able to offer some slots to hometown artists this year,” said Hampton Coliseum Director Joe Tsao. “We’re glad about that. We’re showcasing local talent, supporting our local artists.”

The festival, taking place in Hampton for the 46th year, will happen June 28-30. Tickets, $58.50 per show, go on sale 10 a.m. Saturday, March 23, from Ticketmaster and the Coliseum box office.

Knight has been one of the festival’s most reliable performers. This year’s festival will mark her 15th appearance at the event. Her first show there was in 1974.

If there’s an unspoken theme to this year’s lineup, it’s collaborations. Knight will team with The O’Jays as part of a Friday-night headlining performance called Family Reunion. On Saturday, June 29, Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant, all veterans of New Edition, will perform together as Heads of State.

via Gladys Knight and Jill Scott to play 2013 Hampton Jazz Festival – dailypress.com.


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Jazz Articles: Kennedy Center Announces 2013-2014 Jazz Season – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles

Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval

The Kennedy Center has announced its 2013–2014 jazz season. The jazz program at the prestigious Washington, D.C., venue, now under the leadership of Artistic Advisor Jason Moran, will include more than 70 performances. Featured artists will include Geri Allen, Terence Blanchard, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ann Hampton Callaway, Ramsey Lewis, Kevin Mahagony, Oscar Peñas, John Pizzarelli, Dorado Schmitt, Esperanza Spalding and Cecil Taylor.

Among the themed shows announced by the Kennedy Center is a 75th anniversary celebration of Blue Note Records, a weeklong series of performances that includes Norah Jones, Moran and Cassandra Wilson. Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval will be the focus of a concert titled “50 Years: The Life, Passion, and Music of Arturo Sandoval,” with Chick Corea, Bill Cosby, Doc Severinsen, Andy Garcia and more. Soprano Kathleen Battle will perform “Something to Sing About,” a program of songs by Gershwin, Ellington and Joplin with pianist Cyrus Chestnut.

via Jazz Articles: Kennedy Center Announces 2013-2014 Jazz Season – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles.

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Jazz Articles: Playboy Jazz Festival Announces Lineup for 35th Annual Event – By Jeff Tamarkin

The 35th anniversary edition of the Playboy Jazz Festival will take place on Father’s Day weekend, June 15-16, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. In addition to announcing the scheduled performers, the festival revealed yesterday that comedian/actor George Lopez will be the master of ceremonies, replacing Bill Cosby, who had hosted the event for over three decades.

Angelique Kidjo | Michael Weintrob

Angelique Kidjo | Michael Weintrob

This year’s lineup reflects the festival’s typically R&B- and world-friendly bent. Among the performers on the 15th will be George Duke with special guest Jeffrey Osborne; Naturally 7 with special guest Herbie Hancock; Angelique Kidjo with special guest Hugh Masekela; “Olé Coltrane” featuring Poncho Sanchez and His Latin Jazz Band with special guest James Carter; Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band with special guest Lee Ritenour; Gregory Porter; Robert Glasper Experiment; Grace Kelly Quintet with special guest Phil Woods; Pedrito Martinez Group featuring Ariacne Trujillo; and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble.

via Jazz Articles: Playboy Jazz Festival Announces Lineup for 35th Annual Event – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles.


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Jazz Reviews: Live review: Miguel Zenón Quartet and NEC Jazz Orch. in Boston – By Bill Beuttler — Jazz Articles

Miguel Zenon, Birdland, NYC, 10-25-11 | Jeff Tamarkin

Miguel Zenon, Birdland, NYC, 10-25-11 | Jeff Tamarkin

Miguel Zenón brought his multimedia project on Puerto Rican identity to New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall on February 22 for a rare performance by his longtime quartet and a jazz orchestra (others will follow at SFJAZZ Center on June 1 and at Carnegie Hall on December 7) of music destined for a recording session in Germany early next year. Zenón himself conducted the interviews with the several New York-based, second-generation Puerto Ricans featured on the video portion of the program, and he composed and arranged all the music.

“Our conversations,” writes Zenón in accompanying program notes, “can basically be summarized into one single question: What makes a Puerto Rican a Puerto Rican?” The answers he gets—as implied by the project’s title, Identities are Changeable: Tales from the Diaspora—are various, malleable and interrelated. To reflect that, the music Zenón wrote is shot through with interlocking time signatures. “As a means to represent this unique concept of identity (multiple and changeable) in the music itself,” his notes continue, “all of the compositions explore the idea of multiple rhythmic structures coexisting with each other (e.g., 5 against 7, 3 against 2, 5 against 3). In addition, each piece is meant to be a narrative of the different questions and concerns addressed during the interviews.”

via Jazz Reviews: Live review: Miguel Zenón Quartet and NEC Jazz Orch. in Boston – By Bill Beuttler — Jazz Articles.

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Jazz Articles: Dave Douglas to Release New Album, ‘Time Travel,’ on April 9 – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles

Trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas will follow last year’s Be Still with an all-instrumental collection, Time Travel, due April 9 from Douglas’ Greenleaf Music. The recording features saxophonist Jon Irabagon, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston. The album was engineered by Joe Ferla.

Dave Douglas & Keystone at Undead Jazzfest 2010 Greg Aiello

Dave Douglas & Keystone at Undead Jazzfest 2010
Greg Aiello

Douglas will also launch a tour with the intention of performing in all 50 states, to coincide with his 50th birthday. Initital dates are below

Tour Dates

February 15: Austin, TX – University of Texas Austin – Bass Concert Hall *

February 22: Elmhurst, IL – Elmhurst College – Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel

March 3: Manzoni, Italy – Teatro Manzoni

March 6: Rome, Italy – Auditorium Parco della Musica ^

March 28 – 31: New York, NY – Jazz Standard (50th Birthday Week)

April 4: Laramie, WY – University of Wyoming

April 5: Boulder, CO – University of Colorado at Boulder

April 11 – 12: Denver, CO – Dazzle Jazz Club

April 25: Reno, NV – Reno Jazz Festival

May 4: Cheltenham, UK – Cheltenham Jazz Festival

May 17: Chicago, IL – Jazz Showcase †

May 30: Brooklyn, NY – Shapeshifter Lab

May 31: New Haven, CT – Firehouse 12

June 3: Burlington, VT – Flynn Center

All dates are with Dave Douglas Quintet unless otherwise noted.

* = Dave Douglas/Joe Lovano & Sound Prints Band feat. Lawrence Fields, Linda Oh & Joey Baron

^ = with Rome Auditorium Jazz Orchestra

† = with Columbia College Jazz Ensemble

via Jazz Articles: Dave Douglas to Release New Album, ‘Time Travel,’ on April 9 – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles.

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Jazz Articles: Grammy Awards Announced in Jazz Categories | JazzTimes

Big winners include Chick Corea & Gary Burton, Esperanza Spalding, Pat Metheny; Robert Glasper Experiment wins Best R&B Album

Winners of the 55th Annual Grammy Awards were announced on Sunday in Los Angeles. Below is our compilation of the jazz-oriented categories, nominees and victors, announced during the Awards’ pre-telecast program. Musical performances during the pre-telecast included World Music Album nominee Hugh Masekela and band. Yesterday, Charlie Haden received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony.

Read more at Jazz Articles: Grammy Awards Announced in Jazz Categories – By JazzTimes — Jazz Articles.

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Jazz meets Comedy this Fri 8th Feb at Kaleidoscope Cafe

This Friday, 08 February 2013, at Kaleidoscope Cafe, we will be having Dennis Stander with the OneManStand Comedy show with Mark Goliath PLUS The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band sharing the stage!

Time: 7.30pm

Cost: R100pp (this includes a meal – this Friday is Lamb Curry+Rice)

We have a soft drink bar available AND we have added dessert to the menu at R15pp.

Card facilities available.

Please book with Petro on 021-674 5761 during office hours to secure your seat/table.

Looking forward to welcoming you at our venue.

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The Great Karoo All In One Guitar Camp

The inaugural Great Karoo All In One Guitar Camp has been conceived to present local and international individuals, music institutions and university students with the opportunity of attending a series of workshops conducted by three of South Africa’s musical legends in the village of Nieu-Bethesda in the Great Karoo. All In One is comprised of Steve Newman, Errol Dyers and Hilton Schilder who first shared the stage in an improvised session at the Ubuntu Festival held to celebrate the 91st birthday of Nelson Mandela in 2009.

These three cosmic travellers have since recorded an album of the same title and have been taking audiences across the country on a musical journey which stretches from the slopes of Table Mountain, to the heart of the Kalahari, via the plains of Argentina; reflecting the quiet refrain of days gone by and touched by strains of joy and reflection.

The camp begins with a performance by All In One on Friday evening which will be followed by a meet and greet dinner of a variety of delicious potjies.
The workshops take place on Saturday and Sunday and on Saturday night the participants will have the opportunity to jam with the pros.

For those who are interested, Steve will conduct morning yoga sessions.

Various packages are available to suit every budget so please contact us on 049 841 1642 or accommodation@nieu-bethesda or www.nieu-bethesda.com

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Jazz Departments: Chuck Redd Remembers Bassist Joe Byrd: 1933 – 2012 – By Chuck Redd — Jazz Articles

Jazz Departments: Chuck Redd Remembers Bassist Joe Byrd: 1933 - 2012

Jazz Departments: Chuck Redd Remembers Bassist Joe Byrd: 1933 – 2012

Joe Byrd was a very savvy, well-read Southern gentleman whose musicianship placed him in a professional universe that I’m sure he never imagined as a boy growing up in the tiny town of Chuckatuck, Virginia. Joe spent most of his career as bassist with his brother Charlie Byrd’s trio and was as at ease as anyone I’ve ever known in any setting. Always dapper and polite, he was perfectly comfortable at a dinner at the U.S. Ambassador’s home in South Korea, onstage at Carnegie Hall or hanging out with old friends and family. Among Joe’s longtime friends were Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis. Joe and I accompanied Herb, Barney and Charlie on many “Great Guitars” tours. Drawing on Joe’s quiet wisdom, we all often asked him to answer questions on a wide range of topics from the mundane to the profound. We eventually joked that Joe should have his own television show: Joe Knows.

via Jazz Departments: Chuck Redd Remembers Bassist Joe Byrd: 1933 – 2012 – By Chuck Redd — Jazz Articles.

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Jose Feliciano – Live At The 2010 New Orleans Jazzfest

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Up close and personal with Julian Bahula – A drumbeat for freedom – SundayWorld

THE year was 1964. The venue was Orlando Stadium, the country’s soccer Mecca and, in the 1960s, the arena of jazz competitions.

The event was the Castle Lager Jazz Festival. Three young men from Mamelodi, Pretoria, the Malombo Jazzmen, caused a stir and left a lasting imprint on the collective psyche of the 60000 revellers.

They were leader and guitar wizard Philip Tabane, flautist and harmonica player Abbey Cindi, and Julian Bahula on skins.

via Up close and personal with Julian Bahula – A drumbeat for freedom – SundayWorld.

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Jazz Columns: Jazz Is Alive and Will Never Die – By Michael A. Nutter — Jazz Articles

Mayor Michael Nutter, and Thirsty Ear Recordings' Peter Gordon talk music at the Jazz Connect Conference at the Hilton New York, Jan. 2013 | Jeff Tamarkin

Mario Garcia Durham (President and CEO of APAP), Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Thirsty Ear Recordings’ Peter Gordon talk music at the Jazz Connect Conference at the Hilton New York, Jan. 2013 | Jeff Tamarkin

Jazz is alive, and will never die.

Jazz is a unique American art form that affirms the noblest aspirations of our nation – individualism, discipline, perseverance, innovation…

As jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker said, “Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.”

via Jazz Columns: Jazz Is Alive and Will Never Die – By Michael A. Nutter — Jazz Articles.

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Goldings/Bernstein/Stewart – review | Music | The Guardian

Bernstein Goldings Stewart

Bernstein Goldings Stewart

Hammond-organ jazz trios aren’t supposed to sound tasteful – the default adjectives for this popular 1950s-minted lineup are soulful, sermonising, sweaty, maybe sexy. But though Boston organist Larry Goldings’s trio plays in a more restrained manner than those of such famous predecessors as Jimmy Smith, this widely admired soloist, composer and accompanist (Christina Aguilera, Tracy Chapman and Madeleine Peyroux have hired him) plays a subtler kind of Hammond jazz for a more eclectic musical era.

via Goldings/Bernstein/Stewart – review | Music | The Guardian.

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Montreaux Jazz Festival founder Claude Nobs dies after skiing accident

Claude Nobs. Credit: AP Photo

Claude Nobs. Credit: AP Photo

GENEVA (AP) — Claude Nobs, the founder and general manager of the Montreux Jazz Festival, whose passion for music and artistry introduced generations of legendary musicians to international audiences on the Swiss stage, has died. He was 76.

The Jazz Festival said Nobs, a native of Montreux, died Thursday after sustaining injuries from a fall while cross-country skiing in nearby Caux-sur-Montreux on Christmas Eve. He was taken to the hospital and fell into a coma from which he never recovered.

Nobs worked his way from being a chef and director of Montreux’s tourism office, where he organized charity concerts, to overseeing one of the most iconic music festivals in the world.

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A Historic Jazz Label Gets a New Life – NYTimes.com

The major-label landscape hasn’t been hospitable to jazz in recent years, but there’s a bit of good news on the horizon: OKeh Records, the label that released historic early recordings by Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Duke Ellington, is being revived under the corporate umbrella of Sony Masterworks. The new OKeh roster will feature contemporary artists, including the guitarist Bill Frisell, the saxophonist David Sanborn and the pianist and keyboardist Bob James; its first release will be “A Different Time,” by the pianist John Medeski, on April 9.

Wulf Müller, who joined Sony Classical as a jazz consultant last fall, is overseeing the label revamp. Mr. Müller has nearly 30 years of experience in the music industry, many of them in the realm of A&R and marketing for PolyGram and Universal. At OKeh he’ll work with Chuck Mitchell, who was recently appointed senior vice president of Sony Masterworks (and comes with his own major-label jazz pedigree, having worked as an executive at Verve and eOne).

via A Historic Jazz Label Gets a New Life – NYTimes.com.


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Jazz Articles: Actress Molly Ringwald to Release Jazz Vocal Recording – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles

Molly Ringwald

Molly Ringwald

Actress Molly Ringwald, best known for her starring roles in such hit 1980s films as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club, will release a jazz vocal album, Except … Sometimes, next April. The album, Ringwald’s debut, will be released by Concord Records. It’s described in a press release “an homage to the Great American Songbook,” and will include nine standards plus “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from The Breakfast Club. Ringwald will also appear on selected tour dates.

via Jazz Articles: Actress Molly Ringwald to Release Jazz Vocal Recording – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles.

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Top 10 Jazz albums of 2012 – latimes.com

Vijay Iyer, "Accelerando" (ACT) ( Getty Images / December 14, 2012 )

Vijay Iyer, “Accelerando” (ACT) ( Getty Images / December 14, 2012 )

A selection of notable releases in another year that found jazz evolving as boundaries and definitions shifted and fell, leaving only the music behind.

via Top 10 Jazz albums of 2012 – latimes.com.

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The best jazz albums of 2012, as selected by Fred Kaplan. – Slate Magazine

Ravi Coltrane.  Photo by Deborah Feingold/Courtesy Ravi Coltrane.

Ravi Coltrane. Photo by Deborah Feingold/Courtesy Ravi Coltrane.

It’s been a solid year for jazz recordings: no truly great new albums (I doubt that any of them will make the decade’s top 10 list at the end of 2019), but all of the ones below are very good.

Read more at The best jazz albums of 2012, as selected by Fred Kaplan. – Slate Magazine.

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Rocking Horse – Soft Rock Country Band + The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band LIVE at Kaleidoscope Cafe on Friday 2nd November 2012.

Rocking Horse - Soft Rock Country Band + The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band LIVE at Kaleidoscope Cafe on Friday 2nd November 2012.

Rocking Horse – Soft Rock Country Band + The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band LIVE at Kaleidoscope Cafe on Friday 2nd November 2012.

Rocking Horse – Soft Rock Country Band + The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band LIVE at Kaleidoscope Cafe on Friday 2nd November 2012.
Butter Chicken + Rice on the Menu – Soft Drinks Bar
Call Petro Schoeman 0216745761 to book!

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Friends of De Waal Park and Re/MAX Living Concert Series for 2012/2013 – LINEUP ANNOUNCED

de waal park bandstand

de waal park bandstand

Following the success of the inaugural De Waal Park Summer Concerts in 2011/2012 the Friends of De Waal Park and Re/MAX Living are once again going to bring great music to the Park in Oranjezicht.

And the 2012/2013 line-up is bigger and better than ever with some of South Africa’s best, and most popular, musicians and bands in the line-up.

Jimmy Dludlu, The Rudimentals, Mark Haze, Robin Levetan, Arno Carstens, Saudiq Kahn, Karen Zoid, The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band, Steve Louw and Big Sky, Robin Auld, and Hot Water. One of them will be performing every second Sunday from November 4 until March 17. (See programme schedule below)

The concerts are being held on Sunday afternoons in order to be as accessible as possible for the local community, and ensuring that parents with younger children have the opportunity to attend too. Dog are always welcome.

The Friends of De Waal Park was formed in 2008 by group of volunteers, comprised of individuals who live in the area, to assist the city maintain and improve the park for its citizens. They pay for the pond to be cleaned, for some gardening in the park and for the all important ‘pooh packets’ for the dog walkers! They have repaired benches and arranged for the for the toilet block to remain open after hours. They have upgraded the children’s play area and arranged for additional tables and benches to be placed in the park.

The Summer Concerts will be staged in the original Edwardian bandstand which was manufactured by Messrs Walter McFarlane & Co of Glasgow and presented to ‘the corporation’ in Cape Town by the Traders-Market & Exhibition Ltd. London in 1904. It was moved from the original exhibition space in Green Point to De Waal Park some years later.
‘We are privileged to have an Edwardian bandstand and what is a bandstand for if not for music?’ Said Mike Bosazza, Chairman of FoDWP. ‘We get pleasure by bringing music back into the city bowl for the whole community, and we like to encourage people to use and enjoy our wonderful park.

‘ We are also proud that Cape Town is once again right up-to-date with European trends’ Mike continued ‘As, In the past decade, over a hundred bandstands have been restored in England. Plus October is World Architecture Month so it is the perfect time to celebrate our old structures and buildings.’ he said.

The Summer Concerts, which are free to the public, would not have been possible without the generous support of RE/MAX Living.

Gerlinde Moser of RE/MAX Living says, ‘It’s our way of giving back to the community, after all we don’t just work here, we live here too! It is gratifying for us to see the growing support we are getting from the City Bowl homeowners in response to our neighbourhood support policy. Our agents are proud to be supporters of what will be the largest annual community event in the area.

‘And what better way to say this than with a series of outdoor concerts?’ Music brings joy to everybody, regardless of age, and spending quality time with your family in a beautiful and peaceful park, on a blanket with a picnic, is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon?’ Gerlinde said.


November 4th 3pm RUDIMENTALS
November 18th 3pm MARK HAZE

December 2nd 4pm ROBIN LEVETAN

January 6th 4pm KAREN ZOID

February 3rd 4pm STEVE LOUW AND BIG SKY
February 17th 4pm ROBIN AULD

March 3rd 3pm ARNO CARSTENS
March 17th 3pm HOT WATER

For more information visit the De Waal Park website: www.dewaalpark.co.za

Written by Marilyn Thompson and distributed by Marilyn Thompson and Martin Myers

For interviews and photographs contact Martin Myers : 021 4248850,
083 4484475 or martin@triplementertainment.co.za



Triple M Entertainment

Triple M Entertainment

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All Jazz Radio is about to burst onto the Internet

It’s about to happen, the long wait is finally over, All Jazz Radio is about to burst onto the Internet and the Social Media broadcasting jazz out of Cape Town, South Africa. AJR will be the very first Jazz Radio station of any kind, broadcasting 24/7 in the country on the Internet, Smart Phones and Tablet Devices.

Do you have a collection of great South African and International Jazz, Blues or World Latin Music? By collection we mean at least 700 or more CD’s falling into the genres categories mentioned. Please give us a list of some of your favorite albums in your collection too.

Now, how would you like to become part of the broadcast team at AJR. Please email us your preferences and tell us about your collection, who your favorite musicians and performers are, and why you have chosen them. Also please tell us what it is about Jazz, Blues and World Latin music you like, what drew you to the genre forms. We would also like a motivation of what you expect and why you feel that you could become a jazz radio broadcaster. We also need to know what you business and working life is about, your experience and educational qualifications equally important too.Email all the above to The Manager AJR at info@alljazzradio.co.za

Please make sure your mails reach us by the close of business on Friday 6th September 2012.

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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 http://www.sydneymnisi.co.za

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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.

Visit Tutu’s website at http://www.tutupuoane.info/home.html

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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)

Visit her website at http://www.alisondewar.com

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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: stixhojeng@webmail.co.za.

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

Visit his website at http://www.stixhojeng.co.za/

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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.

Visit Rus’ website at http://rusnerwich.com/

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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 http://myspace.com/natascharoth – visit http://profile.myspace.com/jscholfield

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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.

Visit her websites at http://www.myspace.com/natascharoth or

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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 http://www.uhurucom.co.za/rootz.htm

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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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Bebop and Beyond the Blues – South African Jazz History

By Struan Douglas of Afribeat

“Jazz is a music which has its roots in a life of insecurity, in which a single moment of self-realisation, of love, light and movement, is extraordinarily more important than a whole lifetime. From a situation in which violence is endemic, where a man escapes a police bullet only to be cut down by a knife-happy African thug, has come an ebullient sound more intuitive than any outside the US of what jazz is supposed to celebrate – the moment of love, lust, bravery, incense, fruition, and all those vivid dancing good times of the body when the now is maybe all there is.”
Lewis Nkosi, journalist, in Jazz in Exile, 1966

“Sophiatown was a very beautiful place. There was music everywhere, flowing out of every house, from every corner and every shebeen. Rhythm was the unsaid word. There was mbaqanga, marabi, kwela jive, and on Sundays the gospel choirs marched down Toby street singing, and we always joined them. And then there was jazz at night. We used to go to `Sis Petty’s shebeen and watch the Jazz Maniacs and listen to recorded American jazzmen. Inside it was packed, you wouldn’t be able to move. But when the jazz came on, those bodies made space. Nobody would be standing still. Outside, `Sis Petty’s kids would be watching for the police, but the jazz was so good they would keep on coming inside. `Sis Petty would have to chase them out, and the men would carry on drinking as much as they could as quickly as they could, just in case the police arrived. Everybody used to meet there, musicians, artists, intellectuals, writers, politicians and boozers. And all of us, the young aspirants, were growing up in this cultural explosion, even Felicia [Mabuza Suttle]!”

Singing icon Thandi Klassens’ story is one of many from the racy, vibrant and seemingly indestructible Sophiatown of the early fifties. Along with Langa, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, Sophiatown was a place where black urban culture was erupting. And where there was black urban culture, there was jazz. And everybody wanted a piece of it.

All over the country, people tuned into Voice of America to hear what was hip. For a while, it was the big band sounds of Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. But when bebop came, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were all over the radio, everywhere. The white musicians who’d been to America spread the sound, magazines talked about it, and you could by it from the avant-garde record stores or American sailors who often docked on our shores. Pianist ‘Dollar’ Brand (who later changed his name to Abdullah Ibrahim) got his nickname because he always had a dollar in his pocket in case he came across one of these jazz records. City life was very impressed by bebop and its hip style and happening jazzmen. Twotone shoes, Stetsons, Buicks, Chevys and suits were the image, and the gents were impeccably dressed and smoothly mannered, for the chicks, the bebop and the fun of it.

All over the country, people tuned into Voice of America to hear what was hip. For a while, it was the big band sounds of Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. But when bebop came, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were all over the radio, everywhere. The white musicians who’d been to America spread the sound, magazines talked about it, and you could by it from the avant-garde record stores or American sailors who often docked on our shores. Pianist ‘Dollar’ Brand (who later changed his name to Abdullah Ibrahim) got his nickname because he always had a dollar in his pocket in case he came across one of these jazz records. City life was very impressed by bebop and its hip style and happening jazzmen. Twotone shoes, Stetsons, Buicks, Chevys and suits were the image, and the gents were impeccably dressed and smoothly mannered, for the chicks, the bebop and the fun of it.

And in the blazen path set by the American cats, South African jazz developed, emerging out of a similar socio-cultural oppression, as a healing and transformative tool. Uniting the two suppressive streams into a form of music that had the expression of its roots, but with a unique African flavour.

One of the great pioneers was Cape Town’s Chris Macgregor. He was studying at the University of Cape Town, but his interest was in what the black musicians were doing. He was energetic and enthusiastic, always practicing and composing, and defying ‘illegal gathering’ laws in order to meet and play with the musicians he wanted to. And that’s how the Blue Notes came together. Chris often went to The Vortex jazz club in Long Street, a popular venue where musicians jammed together. Dudu Pukwana was the regular pianist, he’d rehearse during the day, perform at nights and sleep in the basement. Chris and him talked about getting a band together, but they were both piano players. Dudu, however, had always wanted to play sax, so they hired one and the Blue Notes took off.

At the same time, the Jo’berg scene was being set alight by Kippie Moeketsi, who modelled himself on the erratic, hip and stylish Charlie Parker, innovating and improvising on the saxophone with similar brilliance. He joined young trumpeter Hugh Masekela, trombonist Jonas Gwangwa and arrangement genius Abdullah Ibrahim to form The Jazz Epistles. As much as Kippie was the energy and virtuoso of the group, Abdullah was the composer and leader, intense and passionate. Long time friend, Vince Colbe, describes him as ‘a deadly serious bloke’. “He used to lock himself in his room with only bread and milk and compose. I remember going to his house and listening to one of his tracks, Eclipse at Dawn. I teased him you know. `Dollar, play something dancy!’ `You’re a prostitute!’ he replied. `You’re prostituting the art, you must speak the truth.’ That’s how intense he was. That’s why there was an edge to his sound, a hauntingness, almost a howl in the wilderness.”

The Jazz Epistles were the first black South African group to record an album but broke up only six months after forming. Other than Abdullah, the band joined the all African opera, King Kong. “It was a ground-breaking musical, very powerful.” says Hugh Masekela. “Jonas and I were the copyists and Kippie was one of the arrangers. It was like an assembly line, with the arrangers in one room, and us in another. They would churn out the arrangements and bring the orchestration to me and Jonas and we’d do the parts, and then rehearse it with a cast of seventy. It was star studded, with some of the prettiest women I’ve seen in my life. A wonderful experience!”

King Kong was South Africa’s first jazz export and a major achievement in escaping political parochialism and taking our unique sounds to the West End. It also started the exodus of musicians to foreign and free pastures, where they could explore themselves and their art. Abdullah went to Switzerland, Hugh to New York to study, and Jonas his own way. The Blue Notes hung around until ’63, touring the country and then playing the Cold Castle Jazz festival in Jo’berg. With the politics becoming impossible and his feet itching for departure, Chris put together a 17 piece band featuring some of the best musicians across the country as a symbolic climax to the end of a rich period of jazz. It was a last minute affair. Chris composed furiously, whilst his wife arranged financing and facilities. Even though there was no time for rehearsing, the individual skill of the players saw the band to victory and a recording.

On this high note, the Blue Notes joined the other musicians in exile. Kippie tried to keep the memories alive, but he never got over the departure of the other jazz players, and became overwhelmed by the political frustrations. The Sharpeville massacre had ripped the heart out of the nation and the situation was deteriorating. Apartheid was serious about destroying this vibrant era, and no exceptions would be made for jazz. It was an expressive force seeking musical and social equality, and apartheid hated that.

Radio restrictions, big police clampdowns, violence and the destruction of vibrant communities ensued, leaving a big void for those who stayed behind in the ‘Verwoerd to Vorster’ years. Musicians went back to 9-5 jobs. `Cups `n Saucers’ Ngcukana, for example, Cold Castle musician of the year in ’62, was forced to work in a shoe store and never played again. Jazz lost a lot of its great talents and a lot of its identity, explains his son Ezra. “Things were wild, restrictive and so unnecessary then. I remember suggesting the name ‘Amoeboid Movement’ for a song, and just because of the political perceptions of the word `movement’, it was never given airplay.”

Abdullah returned in the mid-70s to record two albums, one with Kippie and the other with Cape Town musos Robbie Jansen and the late Basil `Manenberg’ Coetzee. With them he reworked a ’50s jazz mbaqanga melody into the quintessential Cape Town anthem, `Manenberg’.

But it was Saxophonist Winston Mankunku who anchored the scene, particularly in the late sixties, occasionally playing behind curtains under the alias ‘Winston Man’ to conceal his race, or performing out in Swaziland. His music was very avant-garde, an expression of society’s desperation for freedom. Wild and freeform, no restrictions for that. In ’68 he recorded the classic ‘Yakhal Nkomo’ (Bellowing Bull), “a scream for equality and freedom, a shout for recognition of the pain we were feeling,” explains Winston.

Now, many years later, the voice that was lost has been rediscovered and reinvented in many ways, by both the returned pioneers and new musicians. Hugh’s 1997 album ‘Black to the Future’ shows a sensitivity to the music of youth culture, mixing up the old and the new, mbaqanga, jazz and kwaito. Winston’s latest album ‘Molo Africa’ recently won the SAMA award for best traditional album. And Jonas’ 1999 A Temporary Inconvenience proves that he’s still playing with the touch that made the Jazz Epistles pioneers and legends.

Of the newer names, multi-instrumentalist Zim Ngqawana is playing wild and adventurous jazz in the mould of the Blue Notes and the Jazz Epistles. And `young lions’ like McCoy Mrubata, Paul Hanmer, Moses Molelekwa and Marcus Wyatt are igniting the scene with always fresh and often funky interpretations of old styles with new sounds, acknowledging the past and experimenting with the cutting edge, “in a conscious attempt to find ourselves,” says Moses. “As a country we are finally back in touch with ourselves and the rest of the world,” says Hugh Masekela. “It’s great to be South African and its great to have the music and we are exploring this freedom and discovering new and beautiful things.”

Struan is the author of the Story of South African Jazz, Volume 1

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