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15 Apr 2012

Tete Mbambisa 'Black Heroes' Launch Concert - 22 April 2012

Tete Mbambisa, one of South Africa’s most important jazz musicians, returns with a new solo piano album Black Heroes. A launch concert with special guests will take place at the College of Music, UCT in Rondebosch on Sunday 22 April at 6 pm.

Mbambisa’s career spans fifty years and he can be heard on numerous recordings by many giants of South African jazz. His 1976 album Tete’s Big Sound is a classic in the annals of local jazz. Mbambisa is featured in the 2003 movie Sophiatown and his compositions have been covered by the likes of Chris McGregor, The Blue Notes, McCoy Mrubata and Adam Glasser.

Black Heroes was recorded at Stellenbosch University in 2010 and the title composition is dedicated to three great figures in South African history - Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela.

Tickets are R50 (R40 for seniors & students) and are available at the door. Call 079 0359 837 or email eato{@}
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More on "Black Heroes":


Black Heroes, the new solo piano album from Tete Mbambisa, takes its title from a composition dedicated to three great figures of the struggle years – Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. This, the first commercially released solo piano recording by Tete Mbambisa, offers listeners the chance to hear one of South Africa's greatest jazz pianists in the solo format. The composition 'Black Heroes' was originally written for Mbambisa's iconic album Tete's Big Sound which was released by Rashid Valley's legendary As-Shams label in 1976, a few months before the June 16th Uprising. Although Bra Tete is quite clear that his music is composed as music, rather than as political statement, he is also clear that both the title and dedication are significant and that as an artist he is also part of the wider community. As Vusi Khumalo wrote in the original liner notes for Tete's Big Sound: 'Tete Mbambisa brings to the outside world this sad, sacred story, and puts the Black artist in the forefront.'

Tete Mbambisa has performed and recorded with many of the giants of South African jazz (Bazil 'Manenberg' Coetzee, Johnny Dyani, Lulu Gontsana, Dick Khoza, Early Mabuza, Duku Makasi, Hugh Masekela, Nik Moyake, Ezra Ngcukana, Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Dudu Pukwana, Barney Rachabane et al), and is one of the very few jazz musicians that can claim to have played with the three jazz generations of the last fifty years. He featured in Pascale Lamche's 2003 movie Sophiatown, and his compositions have been recorded by The Blue Notes, Adam Glasser, Chris McGregor, McCoy Mrubata and Brian Thusi. His work as a pianist, vocalist, composer and arranger can also be found on many anthologies of South African jazz.

A new recording for 2012

Bra Tete first came to public attention after recording four sides with his vocal group, The Four Yanks, for Gallo Africa in 1962. Black Heroes places Mbambisa’s Four Yanks classic 'Umsenge' alongside recent compositions such as 'One For Asa', but it is the compositions 'Dembese' and 'Stay Cool' – along with his arrangement of the traditional song 'Mbombela' – that foreground Mbambisa's unique ability to infuse mbaqanga with contemporary jazz. The unfettered musical space a solo pianist has to explore ideas, combined with the clarity of the Black Heroes recording, provides the clearest insight yet into Tete Mbambisa's creativity. With Black Heroes
Tete Mbambisa celebrates fifty years at the forefront of South African jazz, and the reason for the enduring popularity of his music remains abundantly clear to those with an ear for harmonic sophistication and rhythmic drive.

Recorded on 14 and 15 August 2010 at the Fismer Hall in Stellenbosch, and edited in York (UK) and Mdantsane (SA), Black Heroes was mastered at Skye Mastering by Denis Blackham (mastering engineer for reissues of Chris McGregor’s Very Urgent, Our Prayer, and Up To Earth).

The CD contains ten tracks all of which are Mbambisa originals (with the exception of 'Mbombela'). The package includes a 24 page full-colour booklet featuring previously unpublished photographs, a complete discography, and extensive notes.

What they say about Tete Mbambisa

Christopher Ballantine (author of Marabi Nights)
"Tete is of course one of the greatest pianists to have come out of South Africa, but before that time Tete had an extraordinary career as a leader and arranger for The Four Yanks, which was an utterly remarkable group." (2010)

Chris McGregor (pianist and composer with The Blue Notes and the Brotherhood of Breath)
"Tete Mbambisa's group with Dudu on the piano; four voices in close harmony, very sophisticated, very modern, superb, with fantastic dance routines. I adored that; they were really very, very fine, very sharp… If one could have heard them in Europe a bit later people would have been knocked out." (1972)

Pinise Saul (vocalist for Dudu Pukwana's Spear, Adam Glasser's Mzansi, and director of the South African Gospel Singers)
"He's an amazing pianist, the world must hear this pianist from home. Hamba Mbambisa! He's got all the harmonies, he doesn’t need singers. Everything is there." (2011)

Release information
Black Heroes will be available in shops and online from 19 April 2012.

134 Long Street
Cape Town, South Africa
Tel/Fax: +27 21 4260857
Email: info{@}
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[from May 2012]

"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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