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Four Factor: Jazz Novas

2007-10-09 15:23
This week’s four factors rated out of ten are:

Identity factor: Have these nouveau afro-jazz jazz musos become too commercial in the post-apartheid Mzansi? Where are their roots – at home or abroad? What are they talking about? And who are they talking to?
Global Factor: The international market celebrates old school jazz giants such as Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Abdullah Ibrahim. So do these young jazz novas have as much weight internationally as their predecessors did? Or are they only on fire at home!
Extra-Mile Factor: They are rare talents. But how have they sharpened and enhanced their natural skills?
Generation X-factor: Do they pull young and old crowds without compromising who they are? What makes them stand out?

Jimmy Dludlu
Identity Factor: Jimmy Andelino Khwambe aka Jimmy Dludlu is a man who knows where he’s from and where he’s going to. As album titles such as Echoes from the past, Essence of Rhythm, Afrocentric, Corners of my soul and now Portrait prove, Mr Dludlu has a message to share. He explores social issues, African identity, loss of African values, love, loss and the human spirit. His latest albumPortrait also takes a look at how the youth of Mzansi have lost their identity. Jimmy and his guitar strike a chord with every African, irrespective of race or color. He’s relevant today and will stay in this game for years to come. 9
Global Factor: Jimmy’s won several SAMA awards and his debut was released in nine territories in the US and Europe on the Verve Label. He’s performed in Cuba at the Havana Jazz festival and has represented Mzansi in a cultural festival at La Villete in Paris. In an interview for Corners of my Soul he said: “Working with people like Salif Keita and Angelique was a real honor. Up until now, my music has been fairly low-profile in the world arena. This album will open a lot of doors.” It sure has. For his brand new CD Portrait, he jetted off to New York to work with renowned bassist Richard Bona. Watch this space. 8
Extra-Mile Factor: Jimmy was thirteen years old when he first picked up a cousin’s home made guitar. He played for and with some of the biggest names in the industry including saxophonist McCoy Mrubata, trumpeter Hugh Masekela and divas Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie before his big break. Performing with American jazz guitar giant Herb Ellis inspired him to move to the Mother City and join the Jazz Programme at the College of Music at the University of Cape Town, where he eventually got his master’s degree. 9
Generation X-Factor: Not only does Jimmy have a distinct sound but he also has a very unique and distinct look. With his jazzy and funky colorful outfits and his signature hats, Jimmy is a seriously stylish dude! This jazz cat in a hat doesn’t just look good, he sounds damn good too! His tunes are catchy, infectious and haunting. Catch Jimmy live and you’ll see why the old and the young always chant “We want more” after a set. His tunes are accessible because you can feel that the man is sincere. Like his mentor George Benson, Jimmy’s guitar is his voice and he knows how to use it. The man plays from the heart combining classic and modern jazz into a groovy African brew, because that’s what he is! 9

Judith Sephuma
Identity Factor:Judith sauntered onto the scene with a “Cry, a Smile and a Dance”. Her debut of the same name wasn’t just groundbreaking because it sold 80 000 copies, but because it announced the arrival of a young African woman on the male dominated jazz scene. Judith’s rich voice and powerful words in both English and her mother tongue, Sepedi, caught everyone’s attention. She sings about love, courage, joy, motherhood and peace. Just what post-apartheid Mzansi needs to move forward! Singing is this sister’s calling and she clearly isn’t just in this game just for the money. 8
Global Factor: Back in 1996 Judith sang for her supper on the Symphony cruise ship visiting exotic places like Bazaruto, Mauritius, Zanzibar, Mombassa, and Reunion. She’s also played throughout Europe including France’s Fin de Siecle Festival and the Mandela's Children Trust Fund concert in Holland, as well as Mexico, Senegal and more. You go girl! 8
Extra-Mile Factor: Judith attended the FUBA Academy Music School in Jozi and attained her Grade 5 Music Diploma. Judith entered numerous talents search competitions such as Shell Road to Fame and the Jam Alley Talent search where she reached the finals. She then studied jazz at the University of Cape Town and received her Honours degree in Jazz performance in 2000. Judith was also classically trained by operatic soprano Virginia Davids for five years. Yoh! Sister gal has more than enough armour to kick some jazz booty for years to come. 9
Generation X-Factor: On her second album New Beginnings, Judith funks it up a notch by featuring both afro-pop muso Ringo Madlingozi and setswana rapper Stoan Seate form Bongo Maffin! She appeals to both the young and old while remaining true to herself. Judith is graceful and down to earth! That alone beside her mesmerizing voice make her stand out! 8

Gloria Bosman:
Identity factor: Since the beginning of her career in the early 90s, Gloria has always shown maturity that’s rare for her age! She’s never compromised her music and beliefs to increase record sales. From her melodic and soothing song, “Boikarabelo’s Lullaby” and “Remembering Thami Mnyele” which commemorates one of our fallen struggle heroes in her debut, Tranquility, to “Welela” in The Many Faces of Gloria Bosma, a song telling us that we have, within ourselves, the ability to recover from any form of oppression. Gloria’s music touches on issues which we are all still trying to make sense of today. 9
Global Factor: She’s sung for Nelson Mandela on his 80th birthday and for Thabo Mbeki at his Christmas dinner. She’s shared stages with Sibongile Khumalo, Moses Molelekwa, Tananas, Sipho Mabuse, Vusi Mahlasela, James Philips, Victor Masondo, Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa. Need we say more? Looks like Gloria is on fire at home! But is the world ready for Gloria? 7
Extra-Mile Factor:
This extraordinary but astounding vocalist burst into the musical scene as a church choir singer. Her big break came when she was asked to fill in for one of the singers in a production called SA Love at the Market theatre in 1993, after which she was awarded a scholarship to study opera at Technikon Pretoria. This is where she developed and honed her vocal skills. Her proficiency in opera, gospel, jazz and traditional African singing is simply breath-taking! 9
Generation X-factor:
Gloria Bosman is no doubt the epitome of great talent! She’s known for her expressive and powerful vocals and her ability to play with her voice. Her voice can sometimes be coarse and stern, but it can also be soothing and sublime. Her music has something for everyone from Afro-pop, R&B, gospel, blues, contemporary jazz and traditional jazz with a tinge of Miriam Makeba’s “Phatha Phatha” sound. 9

Don Laka:
Identity factor: Don Laka is one of Mzansi’s cherished jazz musicians, songwriter and producer. He’s applauded for his much-loved kwaito record company, Kalawa Jazzmee, which he co-owns with one of the pioneers of kwaito, Oskido. Kalawa is at the forefront of any developments in kwaito music, and was responsible for Boom Shaka’s success. Rooted in South African culture, particularly the new South Africa, this piano maestro has been dubbed the father of kwaai-jazz – a new and hip type of jazz that fuses kwaito rhythms and jazz. His music covers a range of worldwide issues – he is well-known for his album, Armageddon, which was inspired by 9/11. 8
Global Factor: His 1980s British-rock influenced band, Image, which he formed with Chicco Twala, was discovered by one of the top producers in the world, Tony Visconti. David Bowie’s main man, Tony Visconti produced his debut album Destiny opening doors for him overseas. The album earned him much respect in the international jazz arena. Bra’ Don has since toured the United States, London, Switzerland and Canada. 9
Extra-Mile Factor: Born in Mamelodi, he was surrounded by the sounds of guitars and pennywhistles, so it’s no surprise that he had formed his own band by the time he was 11. His first instrument was a guitar made out of an oil can, a piece of wood and fishing line. He made his first recording with the legendary guitarist Ray Phiri in 1972 and by 1979 he was teaching high school students music. Even though apartheid laws denied him entry to study music at the University of Pretoria, this did not deter him from his passion. He taught himself the guitar and other instruments such as bass, piano, drums, harmonica and saxophone. And later upgraded his studies to diploma level. 9
Generation X-Factor: Although he’s known as the voice of a new type of jazz which embraces old-school jazz and fuses it with vibrant kwaito rhythms, his albums sound more rooted in traditional jazz. Until recently, he’s been dishing out down-tempo instrumentals that could blend into the background very easily and which are most likely to appeal to traditional jazz fanatics. But in his new album, Invitation, he’s collaborated with more South African artists such as Bongo Maffin’s Apple Seed, Black Coffee, Skwatta Kamp, and more. These collaborations give Invitation an urban spin making it vibrant, funky and more appealing to both the young and old. Well done for finally getting it right! 7

Scores (out of 40)
Jimmy Dludlu – 35
Judith Sephuma – 33
Gloria Bosman - 34
Don Laka – 33

And our very own Jazz Nova is Mr Dludlu!!! Well done Jimmy.

-Gugu Mkhabela and Tiisetso Tlelima
Jimmy, Judith, Gloria and Bra Don! These nouveaus afro-jazz novas are young, jazzy, rooted and funky. We applaud, celebrate and rate them.


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