BY BILLY SUTER
MADALA Kunene and three University of KwaZulu-Natal music graduates – Lungelo Ngcobo, Prince Bulo and Sphelelo Mazibuko – are among the talents assembled for two performances at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music, on the university’s Durban campus, this month.
The first event at this venue, on the second floor of the Shepstone Building on campus, will be at 6pm on Tuesday, March 7. It will feature JKE and the Roots Grown Deep, featuring Kunene.
The music of Joel Karabo Elliott (JKE) and his band is described as an “Amer-Afrikan musical, poetic and cultural movement, seeking the most resonant harmonies of human Diaspora”.
The group is said to offer a unique musical fusion of New Orleans jazz, southern African indigenous rhythm and dance, Jamaican reggae and Appalachia folk.
“The outcome is a passionate soul’s outcry of multiple languages, trances and instrumental concepts, guided by a poetic message of conscious spiritual ascension,” says a spokesman for the centre.
Roots Grown Deep’s 2016 double album, Grow Within and You Shall Not Go Without, connects the landscapes of three rivers: the Limpopo of Southern Africa, the Colorado of the Grand Canyon, and the Bluefields of Jamaica.
The album features the musical voices of more than 20 South African and American artists, including Msaki, Nono Nkoane, Naftali, Nkoto Malebye and Stompie Selibe.
For their 2017 KZN and Lesotho tour, Roots Grown Deep will perform as a quartet featuring Newcastle and Durban native Ntando Mbatha on bass, Sepedi and Zulu praise poet Dennias Mashegwane, and percussionist Lantern Maleka.
Tickets will be available at the door on the night for R70 (R45 for pensioners, R20 for students). Doors open at 5.30pm. A cash bar is available.
For more information, phone Thulile Zama at 031 260 3385.
Performing at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at 6pm on Wednesday, March 8, as part of their album launch tour, are Lungelo Ngcobo, Prince Bulo and Sphelelo Mazibuko – performing collectively as Africa Plus.
The band was formed in early 2013 while the members were studying music together at UKZN. They have since been creating waves nationally, working with an array of top musicians in South Africa.
Best known for their combination of virtuosity as well as easily accessible melodies, Africa Plus are said to be changing the game in South African trio music.
‘We are really looking forward to playing at the Jazz Centre, especially after such a long time. This album tour launch brings Africa Plus closer to their audience by sharing our music off the debut album, Africa Plus, which was released last October,” says Mazibuko.
“We individually travelled across Africa and lived the African experience, and distilled these individual elements and infused them into modern jazz, hence the name Africa Plus,’ he adds.
Africa Plus is an eclectic genre-crossing band whose parameters are expanded beyond what is expected from a drums, piano and bass trio.
‘We craft the repertoire from innovative original music as well as creative renditions of covers by some of Africa’s greatest pioneers of jazz. Africa Plus continues to quarry and explore the same principles that inspire us, exploring infinite musical forms through the unprecedented exploratory power of jazz,’ adds Mazibuko.
The trio’s self-titled debut album was recorded live at The Orbit in Johannesburg on May 21, 2016, and released globally on October 8.
Tickets for the campus show cost R70 (R45 for pensioners, R20 for students) and can be bought at the centre on the night.