Ugandan saxophonist Herbert Rock to pursue solo music career

After two years of leading the Neptunez Band, Rwanda-based saxophonist Herbert Rock has announced that he is embarking on a solo music career.

Ugandan saxophonist Herbert Rock. Photo: Herbert Rock's Facebook page
Ugandan saxophonist Herbert Rock. Photo: Herbert Rock's Facebook page

The Neptunez Band was formed in 2014 after Herbert Rock (born Herbert Kiggundu) met Remmy Lubega, a Rwandan music promoter who had the idea of forming a music band.

Lubega was director and Herbert bandleader for the 11-member band consisting of artists from Rwanda, Uganda and the Democractic Republic of Congo. That chapter is now closed for Herbert Rock who says his decision to go solo has been harboured for some time.

“My work over the last 10 years have prepared me adequately for what lays ahead," he says. "I always dreamt of a career in music as a child and I am happy that I am embarking on a solo career at this time of my life."

Herbert also announced that he would be releasing his debut album Sax in the City. The nine-track album will be launched in Rwanda before the year ends and features remakes of songs by other artists. Some of the songs remade include ‘Indoro’ by Charly and Nina, ‘Agatako’ by DJ Pius and Jose Chameleon, ‘Ndagukunda’ by King James, and ‘Val valu’ by Jose Chameleon.

The album also features Herbert’s original songs: ‘Agasaza’, ‘Nyaruguru’, ‘Rain in the Morning’ and 'Sax in the City.' Herbert is also working on a second album which he hopes will be released sometime next year.

Born in Kampala in 1986, Herbert Rock started his musical journey at the age of 10 through mentorship by the Non- Profit Organization M-Lisada. The project offered music as a way out for street and orphaned children. Through this organization where his elder brother was a founding member, Herbert joined the M-Lisada brass band and learnt to play the Baritone horn.

At 21, Herbert Rock developed an interest in the saxophone although this particular instrument was not among those owned by the M-Lisada project. This interest led him to the Uganda Police band. He later joined the Eagles Production band and debuted on a live recording of the single ‘Kankutendereze’ by Mesach Semakula. His performance caught the attention of an ardent music fan known as John Semwogerere Mbuga who bought him his first saxophone and paid for his lessons with the legendary Afrigo Band saxophonist, Mansur Akiiki Bulegeya.

Since then Herbert has focused on developing a music career. As a jazz artist, Herbert says more people are paying attention to his kind of music within Rwanda, a country that has witnessed the birth of Kigali Jazz Junction a monthly event that showcases artists from around East Africa. In the future, Herbert hopes to start his own music school that will focus on offering wind instrument training to emerging artists.

The saxophonist says he is grateful to the Neptunez for the opportunity that enabled him grow as an artist. He may collaborate with the band in the future, but his priority at the moment is to build a solo career.

 

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