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10 Jul 2010

Composers Panel - South African jazz musicians-IMS SASRIM Conference

The International Music Society (IMS) and South African Society for Research in Music (SASRIM) Conference is happening at the University of Stellenbosch from 14-17 July 2010.

Jonathan Eato, researcher, composer, saxophonist and lecturer in music at the University of York (UK), has secured a proposal with the IMS SASRIM conference that the composers panel should also feature three extraordinary South African jazz musicians namely, Tete Mbambisa, Louis Moholo-Moholo and Zim Ngqawana.

The conference charges a fee, but this talk is freely open to anyone who is interested in attending and not just academics.

Below is a detailed blurb:

IMS SASRIM Composer’s Panel
10:30-12:00, 16 July 2010, Konservatorium, University of Stellenbosch. ALL WELCOME

What does it mean to be a South African jazz musician in an increasingly globalised music industry? Are contemporary musical identities primarily of jazz or of South Africa? How are these musical identities explored locally and internationally? Jean Fran├žois Bayart draws our attention to the curious paradox that the effects of increased international exchange are simultaneously a homogenisation and a flowering of localised difference – how does the contemporary artist seek to navigate this creatively? Has it become increasingly possible to be musically Xhosa in jazz and if so how? Antjie Krog talks of a mingling or entanglement of roots in order to ask how one root can become or link to another, whilst Deleuze might argue that things continue to become the other, while continuing to be what they are.

The three artists on this panel have, between them, taken South African jazz from vocal jive, through bebop and free improvisation, to contemporary big band and a Xhosa inflected avant-garde. Following an introduction to their work these three extraordinary musicians will discuss their music and ideas.

In alphabetical order the panellists are:

Tete Mbambisa
Tete Mbambisa’s musical legacy stretches back to his early work with the vocal group The Four Yanks. He later switched to the piano and won first prize for piano at the 1963 Castle Lager Festival. His work with the Soul Jazzmen led to the influential recording of Duke Makasi’s ‘Inhlupeko’ (1969) and in the politically charged South Africa of early 1976 Mbambisa recorded the album ‘Tete’s Big Sound’ for Rashid Vally’s iconic As-Shams label. This was followed in 1982 with another As-Shams release ‘Did You Tell Your Mother’. His fruitful association with Duke Makasi continued and resulted in the recording of one of Mbambisa’s best known compositions – ‘Thembile’s Workshop’ featured on The Brothers’ album ‘Xhosa Nostra’ with Victor Ntoni (bass) and Lulu Gontsana (drums). It is a tribute to the high regard in which Mbambisa is held by musicians that Johnny Dyani, Chris McGregor, Dudu Pukwana, and others continued to pay musical and verbal tributes to him long in to their European exiles.

Louis Moholo-Moholo
Described by UK jazz critic John Fordham in the Guardian newspaper as ‘one of the legends of the South African and British jazz scenes’, drummer and composer Louis Moholo-Moholo came to prominence in the 1960s for his work with the Blue Notes (Johnny Dyani, Mongezi Feza, Chris McGregor, Nikele Moyake, Dudu Pukwana). He played a key role in early Brotherhood of Breath lineups, has led several influential bands under his own name (the Louis Moholo-Moholo Unit and Viva La Black) and after nearly half a century on the international scene continues to be described by Fordham as ‘a blast of fresh air’. Moholo-Moholo has worked with many leading improvising musicians including Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell, and Archie Shepp. A significant number of Louis Moholo-Moholo’s recordings, including his Dedication Orchestra project, are available from Ogun Records.

Zim Ngqawana
Having worked in several bands, including a late incarnation of Pacific Express, Zim Ngqawana was amongst the first jazz graduates from the University of KwaZulu Natal. He subsequently studied in the United States with Yusef Lateef, Max Roach and Archie Shepp and went on to forge strong links with Norwegian musicians resulting in San Song (1996) and ‘Zimology’ (1998). ‘Zimphonic Suites’ (2001) and ‘Vadzimu’ (2003) both saw Ngqawana working with South African musicians, notably Herbie Tsoaeli (bass) and Andile Yenana (piano), and Gwen Ansell cites Ngqawana’s ‘vision of a South African avantgarde jazz voice drawing deeply on traditional Xhosa roots’ as largely responsible for making him one of South Africa’s best selling jazz artists. He directed the one hundred strong Drums for Peace Orchestra at President Mandela’s inauguration and has played with many musical luminaries including Moses Molelekwa, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Hugh Masekela. Many of Zim Ngqawana’s recordings are available on Sheer Sound.

Convenor Jonathan Eato is a composer and saxophonist and lecturers in music at the University of York

IMS SASRIM Conference 2010
Jonathan Eato


"Jazz and freedom go hand in hand. That explains it. There isn't any more to add to it. If I do add to it, it gets complicated. That's something for you to think about. You think about it and dig it. You dig it..." Thelonious Monk
"Jazz and freedom go hand in hand. That explains it. There isn't any more to add to it. If I do add to it, it gets complicated. That's something for you to think about. You think about it and dig it. You dig it..." Thelonious Monk

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