The nine-track album will be released on 17 January on Artists Recording Collective (ARC).
The offering is Siege’s third studio recording project where the two artists have produced vibrant sounds of South African infused jazz. King of Xhosa brings together Siegel’s longstanding quartet comprised of saxophonist Erica Lindsay, pianist Francesca Tanksley, and bassist Rich Syracuse with percussionist Fred Berryhill and trumpeter extraordinaire Feya Faku.
Siege and Feya Faku first met in New York in 2014 when Faku travelled there to perform with his Uhadi musical group. Siegel was immediately drawn to Faku’s sound. Siegel said, “From the first time I heard Feya in Woodstock, I knew that he had the perfect vibe, sound and soul to fit with my own quartet.”
This prompted Siegel, who has spent a considerable amount of time in SA, to travel to Cape Town and Grahamstown, South Africa, where he participated in the International Association of Schools of Jazz, and performed at the Grahamstown Jazz Festival. His profound experience during this trip gave birth to the idea of a collaboration with Faku.
“Because African music is the roots of what we play as Jazz musicians, there was a feeling of being home while I was there.
“It was a blessing to meet, hear and play with wonderful musicians and experience the soul of Africa firsthand.”
King of Xhosa is homage to Siege and his conterpart, Feya whose lineage is of Xhosa tribe. "Xhosa is the second largest ethnic group in South Africa after the Zulus. They are known as prophets and have had several kings,” explains Siege, adding that although Feya himself is not a king per se, he “carries and conducts himself in a most regal manner.”
Homage is a recurring theme on the King of Xhosa album whose tracks were composed with specific inspirations in mind. On the song ‘Totem,’ the artist was inspired by Xhosa dancers while on ‘Prayer’, composer Tanksley pays tribute to the “power of merciful love”, while Faku composed ‘Courage’ with his teachers in mind. Siegel’s poignant ‘Ballad of the Innocent’ is dedicated to the victims of the Brussells bombing while Tanksley’s ‘Life on the Rock’ is dedicated to each of the musicians on “King of Xhosa”.
In essence, the album is a celebration of the intersection of cultures. “I hope this music in some way reflects the deep respect I have for the great cultures of both Africa and the United States. While we are profoundly aware of the great pain that resulted in the birth of Jazz music, born from the tragedy of slavery, we are forever blessed with the positive outcome of the joining of these cultures in music. I pray that this recording shall add some positivity, inspiration and strength to a troubled world in whatever small way it can,” says Siegel.