‘Born to be Black’ to host musical dialogue on the politics of jazz in SA

During South Africa’s segregated past, jazz came to symbolize diverse agendas including freedom and democratic values - a threat to an oppressive status quo. In more recent years, the genre has assumed new, more ambiguous meanings.

Louis Moholo Moholo. Photo: www.tumrecords.com
Louis Moholo Moholo. Photo: www.tumrecords.com

As part of Newtown Junction's commitment to bring arts and culture into Johannesburg’s inner city and to preserve the heritage of Newtown, the venue is partnering with top young jazz band Amandla Freedom Ensemble to create a fascinating public dialogue, supported by Concerts SA.

Billed as ‘a celebration of the conscious soul’, the event will be hosted by music journalist Gwen Ansell, who will be joined by acclaimed drummer Louis Tebogo Moholo Moholo, pianist Andile Yenana and American saxophonist and educator Salim Washington. The dialogue will take place on Thursday 11 February at 2:30pm at Work Shop New Town, an innovative new retail concept housed in the historic 1911 Potato Sheds at Newtown Junction.

The Amandla Freedom Ensemble, one of South Africa’s new jazz sensations, led by trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni, will be re-living the history of jazz through a series of intriguing musical dialogues titled ‘Born to be Black’, which alongside Work Shop New Town will also be hosted at The Orbit (82 de Korte St. in Braamfontein) on 11 and 12 February 2016 at 8pm. Tickets cost R120.

‘Born to Be Black’ is the culmination of an endeavour to bring two evenings of musical brilliance from an inter-generational dialogue between the intense piano improvisations of Andile Yenana and the warm percussive sounds of Louis Moholo Moholo. The performance will be expanded with a frontline of four horns, accompanied by Moholo and Yenana. The audience can expect a larger-than-life line-up that promises to capture everyone’s spirit and communicate jazz in an unusual arrangement.

Moholo is no stranger to combining jazz and politics. He played a pivotal role in the influential community of South African exiles who transformed the evolution of British jazz from the 1970s, most notably as part of The Blue Notes alongside the late Chris McGregor, Johnny Dyani, Nikele Moyake, Mongezi Feza and Dudu Pukwana. Moholo returned to South Africa in September 2005. Currently living in Langa, Cape Town, the legendary drummer still performs occasionally at venues such as Straight No Chaser, although he claims to be more in demand in Europe than in his home country, given the lack of live music venues.

Andile Yenana was born in 1968 in King William's Town. He earned a teaching diploma from the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape Province before taking up music studies under American jazz musician Darius Brubeck at the University of Kwazulu-Natal's School of Jazz and Popular Music. It was here that he became friends with trumpeter Feya Faku and the late saxophonist Zim Ngqawana, who featured Yenana on all five of his albums. Yenana has also worked on the pan-African music project Mahube with saxophonist Steve Dyer and others, has also worked as arranger for the likes of Sibongile Khumalo, Gloria Bosman and Suthukazi Arosi. In 2005 he was named Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz.

For more details visit the Newtown Junction website.

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