Society needs its storytellers. Whether those stories are told in prose, poetry or music, they remind us of our humanity and shared histories. Renowned South African composer/bassist Carlo Mombelli is one such narrator. Along with his daring collective of musicians, The Stories Ensemble, Mombelli will be touring Southern Africa in March and April. With the support of Pro Helvetia, these storytellers will be bringing their audiences performances that are as experimental as they are awe-inspiring.
Mombelli is joined by traditional Zulu singer Mbuso Khoza, Australian trombonist Adrian Mears, Swiss cellist Daniel Pezzotti, German/Bosnian drummer Dejan Terzic and 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz, Kyle Shepherd, on piano.
The tour starts on the 28 March at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, after which they will be travelling to Durban to performing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on 1 April (6pm). From there the Ensemble head to Mozambique for a performance in Maputo 2 April (7pm) at the Centro Cultural Franco Mocambicano (CCFM) and complete the tour at the Wits Great Hall in Johannesburg on 4 April (8pm).
Mombelli recorded the deeply personal Stories in September 2013 in Basel, Switzerland with Pezzotti, Mears, and Terzic, who he had been playing with as part of a quartet in Europe. To this mix Mombelli has introduced Khoza and Shepherd. Stories was recorded in studio using vintage microphones from the 1940s and was mastered on reel-to-reel tape machines. The album has been described as Mombelli’s most personally revealing album. Comprised of narratives about the people who have meant the most in his life - his wife, children and music teachers it became a tribute to them.
Described by The Jazz Times in the USA as “disconcertingly beautiful”, this eclectic ensemble unites each musician’s diverse talent and musical background in emotionally charged improvised chamber music both acoustic and electronic.
Mombelli has recorded and performed at many international festivals, including in Italy, Sweden and Norway. He worked for two years with the Paris-based company Lutherie Urbaine on community projects, building instruments out of recycled material. In South Africa he can be heard as a bassist on many recordings including Marcus Wyatt, Simphiwe Dana, Sibongile Khumalo and the late Miriam Makeba. He has received many composition commissions and several ballets have been choreographed to his music. In 2013 he was commissioned to write piece for the Grammy award-winning New York String Quartet Ethel. His recordings have been nominated three times for a South African Music Award (SAMA). He currently teaches at Wits University in Johannesburg, where he received his doctorate in composition in 2009. As a producer he worked on the Shane Cooper album Oscillation that won the Jazz Album of the Year at the 2014 SAMA awards.
Tickets for the shows are available at the door.
For a glimpse of what’s in store, check out this video of a 2013 live performance at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland.