South African music has been textured by jazz music, creating a melting pot of indigenously African jazz, an ever-changing array of inspiring sound. Greats such as Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba have held the reigns and left legendary boots to fill. We look at some of the young men and women who have managed to fill these shoes.
The Band: Amanda Freedom Ensemble
Lead vocalist: Mandla Mlangeni
Tenor saxophone: Oscar Rachabane
Contra bass: Ariel Zamonsky
Percussion: Goniwe Makhane
Drums: Clement Benny
29-year-old Mandla Mlangeni was born in Soweto singing struggle songs as part of his upbringing. When his father bought him a toy piano, his musical path was set and it led him towards jazz music. He went on to study musical composition at UCT and came out with the skills to officially put his music to practice. He has since played with the likes of Hugh Masekela, Khaya Mahlangu and Louis Moholo.
His band, Amandla Freedom Ensemble has been described by the Jazz Times as an ‘urban arts ensemble which wraps elliptical melodies in three part harmonies, rich with impasto, swinging like broken chandeliers…well aware of the tradition but seeking to recreate, interrogate & assimilate the fervour of our times.’
According to Mandla, the band’s message is: ‘an open mind is the passport to enjoy the ride.’ He views jazz as a political statement and notes that the young have always pioneered it.
The album Bhekisizwe, which is ready for download, on CD Baby & iTunes is named after his father as it was motivated by questions likes: Would my father think that we as black Africans have made progress? Do we have a right to our dignity? Would he think that all the blood spilt was in vain?
Vocalists: Buhle and Ntsika
Human Beat Boxer: Luphindo ‘Master P’ (also Ntsika’s older brother)
There is hardly any introduction needed for this Afro soul, jazz, beat box, acapella group that stole the nation’s heart with songs like Baninzi. Their combined masterpiece is how the trio harmonises beautifully, producing a seamless, melodic sound.
Growing up in Soweto, this trio started off in high school doing their best with what they had. They would meet and simply create magic! Eventually a musical sound was developed and they created 10 of their own songs.
Ten years later, we got to know them as the platinum selling acapella group that seemed to have cropped up out of nowhere. They have had the opportunity to perform at the Cape Town jazz festival, and in New York and the UK just to name a few. Their message is a positive one aimed at promoting love and joy. They combine an old school feel with a modern, urban vibe that has captured the country.
Their latest album Nostalgic Moments, is available in stores!
Sisanda Myataza ‘Sid’
Band: Vudu (2010) Mankala (2015)
Guitars, backing vocals, percussions, production: Christian de Juan (UK/Spain)
Guitars, backing vocals: Simwinji Zeko (Zambia)
Lead & backing vocals: Mark Leaver (UK)
Electric bass, double bass Guillaume Ottaviani (France)
Drum kit: Paolo Adamo (Italy)
Djembe, percussions: Bi Do (Ivory Coast)
Lead & backing vocals: Sisanda Myataza (South Africa)
This multi-national band is truly unique, a rainbow nation and a testament to the idea that we are all one, especially when it comes to music.
Eastern Cape raised Sisanda Myataza’s journey is that of a determined young woman whose blood is composed of musical notes. In East London, at the age of 12 she was in a youth band at school and in church. In 2008 she created the band Mike’s Kitchen with some friends and a year later, she joined the Blu notes, which evolved into Vudu in 2010.
Vudu performed around Port Elizabeth until she spread her wings to the UK, where she currently plays with Mankala. In order to get to the UK, she embarked on a fund raising initiative called #SendSisanda2UK. Contributors could go to her email address and Twitter to contribute to her stay there but she paid for her plane ticket and visa herself. She sings in her native tongue, Xhosa and is joined by her band mates (who are not South African or African) in singing the language – showing the versatility contained within this band.
Go to www.mankalaband.com to see their latest video, ‘Mfene’, to get a taste of this new age African fusion music making waves in the UK.
As a solo artist, she is planning to release an EP at the end of January. Music lovers, watch this space.