He will be performing at the Safaricom Jazz in Nairobi. A sample of what to expect.
Jimmy Dludlu was 13 years old when he first picked up a cousin’s home made guitar and started teaching himself to play by imitating the jazz and African music he heard on the radio. His first performances were at township weddings and functions with his cousin.
His career took off in earnest in the mid-1980’s, when he worked with various southern African bands including Impandze from Swaziland, featuring Jamaican singer Trevor Hall, Kalahari and Satari from Botswana, as well as Anansi, featuring the Ghanaian saxophonist George Lee. A highlight of this period was his performance with Anansi at the Botswana Independence celebrations in 1986, alongside a range of African stars including Thomas Mapfumo.
In Johannesburg in 1990, Jimmy worked as a session musician. He worked with McCoy Mrubata and his band Brotherhood, which a year later won the Gilbey’s Music of Africa Competition. In September 1990, he also took part in the Market Theatre production Conversations with Canadian Bruce Cassidy on Trumpet and EVI, and South African Barney Rachabane on sax.
In 1991, he was a founder member of the highly successful group Loading Zone, which went on to tour across the continent, backing a range of South African stars including Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, Chicco and Sipho Mabuse. During this period, Jimmy also recorded with Miriam Makeba on the album “Eyes on Tomorrow”, and participated in the Sun City production Sax Appeal, appearing with the likes of Rene McLean, Winston Mankunku, Robbie Jansen, Victor Ntoni and the late Duke Makasi. A highlight of this period was Loading Zone’s Namibian tour in 1992, when they were spotted by Zairean world-music star Papa Wemba, who subsequently asked the band to back him on several dates in Namibia.
In July 1993, saxophonist Morris Goldberg invited him to perform with his band Ojoyo at the Smirnoff Jazz festival in Grahamstown. He returned to the festival the following year to perform with jazz legend Herb Ellis, a long-time member of Oscar Peterson’s ensembles. Working with these jazz greats, Jimmy decided to pursue music studies, and moved to Cape Town in order to enrol in the Jazz Programme at University of Cape Town’s College of Music.
Unperturbed by the intensive media coverage he was attracting, Jimmy was determined to focus on his studies at UCT, and developing his original music. From 1994 onwards, his distinctive musical style was becoming evident through a series of high-profile appearances, which eventually caught the attention of the SA record industry.
In September 1994, he participated in Johannesburg’s Arts Alive and Guinness Jazz festivals with his own band, featuring Vusi Khumalo on drums, Fana Zulu on bass, Moses Molelekwa on piano, McCoy Mrubata on sax and John Hassan on percussion. In April 1995, Jimmy appeared in the Night of 100 Stars at Cape Town’s Nico Malan Opera House, a charity event which benefited organizations such as the Centre for Battered Women and Street Children. In May 1995 he was one of 30 musicians – including Hugh Masekela, Busi Mhlongo, Dolly Rathebe and Dorothy Masuka – selected to participate in a festival in Paris La Villette celebrating South African culture.
In October 1995, Jimmy and his own band C-Base Collective shared the stage with Senegalese singer and guitarist Ismaël Lo’s African Reconnection Tour in Cape Town. With C-Base Collective, Jimmy performed 2 highly acclaimed shows alongside Courtney Pine at the 1996 Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg, and found himself a PolyGram recording artist by the end of the year.
His debut album for PolyGram, Echoes from the Past, was released in September 1997 to a wealth of superlatives from the media. The album was also well received by the industry, as Jimmy received 2 FNB SAMA Awards for “Best Newcomer” and “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” in 1998, and by the general public, as sales figures in January 1999 indicated sales in excess of 25 000 copies. The album has since been released in nine territories on the Verve label, including United States, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and Hungary.
In March 2000, Jimmy was further acknowledged by the South African music industry, winning the “Best Male Artist” category, and with “Essence of Rhythm” taking the “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” prize at the SAMA Music Awards
Jimmy Dludlu’s style includes wide-ranging influences, combining both traditional and modern elements of jazz drawn from among others Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Pat Metheny, to South African legends Miriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu, Hugh Masekela, Themba Mokwena, and Allen Kwela. He is particularly drawn to the sounds of west and central Africa, as well as Latin America, but says jazz remains his first love. His numerous original compositions fall within the tradition of what has been loosely termed as Afro-Jazz. (courtesy of http://www.music.org.za/artist.asp?id=66)
Ngoma episode 6 is a special show featuring Oliver Mtukudzi. He is without doubt one, of the biggest star from Zimbabwe, who has many tracks in his stable. A social commentator, Mtukudzi has used his music to talk about pertinent issues that include gender based violence, HIV and AIDS, among others.
In episode 6, get ready to dance to memorable numbers like Hear Me Lord, Todii, Tozeza, Neria and Ndakuvara. It is a rich menu. It is a peak into what Mtukudzi has done over the year and the inspiration he has elicited.
Ngoma, a musical journey across Africa continues. In this week’s edition, we set off in South Africa where we listen to Shaluza Max’s hot number Mangase, groovy.
We then make a stopover in Nairobi, Kenya with a fine combination of two songbirds– Suzanne Owiyo (Kenya) and Mbilia Bel (DR Congo). The duo performs Lo, which was produced by Ketebul.
Many have listened to Oliver Mtukudzi famous number Todii but the video has not been popularised. In Ngoma, you now get a chance to listen and view Todii, from one of Zimbabwe’s finest musician and social commentator.
From Zimbabwe, we fly to Bamako, Mali. Mali is the land of many great African musicians. The late Ali Farka Toure, the king of the blues, Salif Keita amongst others. In this week’s edition, we listen to Rokia Traore with a memorable number Tuit Tuit.
The journey ends in the sandy beaches of Cape Verde. It has also produced famous musicians like the late Cesaria Evora. One of her protégée is Gabriela Mendes who sends us home with Tradicao.
Enjoy Ngoma, a musical journey across Africa.
In the fourth episode, we explore some love ballads from the continent. We begin the journey with Ringo’s Sondela, a lovely ballad that was a hit in Kenya and across Africa. This is followed by Kanda Bongoman’s groovy number My Lovely Elizabeth.
This is one of the songs that made Kanda Bongoman very popular. His rendition is awesome. Originally done by S.E. Rogie from Sierra Leone, the song has continued to be fresh and many renditions done to it. The Kanda Bongoman version is particularly popular in Kenya with the part that he talks of “becoming a drunkard, taking whisky, Johnny Walker, that walks all over his head,” sticking out.
Besides My Lovely Elizabeth, S.E. Rogie sung many other memorable songs the include Green Pumpkin. He remembered as the king of the “palm wine” music. It reminds me of Amos Tutuola’s book The Palm Wine Drinkard.
According to Wikipedia, “Rogie was a highlife and palm wine guitarist and singer from Sierra Leone. He was born in 1926 and began performing early, while supporting himself as a tailor. In the 1960s, he became a professional musician, singing in four languages. His hits include “Koneh Pehlawo”, “Go Easy with Me” and “My Lovely Elizabeth”. He formed a band called The Morning Stars in 1965. S.E. Rogers travelled to the United States in 1973. He moved to England in 1988. He died in 1994 shortly after recording his last album, Dead Men Don’t Smoke Marijuana.”
Kanda Bongoman’s My Lovely Elizabeth, is followed by a ballad done a phenomenal combination of African greats– Salif Keita from Mali and the late Cesaria Evora from Cape Verde. Yamore is without doubt a number that you want to listen to over and over.
Yamore is followed by Magwanani by Sakhile from South Africa. Last but not least, we visit the Cape Verde islands where we meet the lovely daughter of the island called Gabriela Mendes. Tradicao remains true to the lovely sounds of Cape Verde and I hope that you will be as awed as I was.
Welcome to Ngoma.
The third episode starts in Zimbabwe with Oliver Mtukudzi’s Kunze Kwadoka. Followed by Homeless by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, South Africa. Nkhujipeleka by Wambali from Malawi, Ngwana wa Mme by Moses Khumalo, South Africa and ends in Senegal with Baaba Maal’s Miyaabele.
When you watch television in Kenya or elsewhere in the African continent, you will without doubt notice that many music shows are tailored to the burgeoning youth/teen population. The media managers and content buyers have somehow created an impression that in music programming, it is just the youth that matter.
However, there is another audience that has been left out and in my opinion, this segment represents the true connoisseurs of good music. I am talking about the crowd that turns out in huge numbers when legendary artists like Salif Keita, Youssou Ndour, Hugh Masekela, Oliver Mtukudzi, Kanda Bongoman, Rokia Traore, Baaba Maal, etc come calling in Nairobi.
This crowd has ensured the success and growth of events like Blankets and Wine and even the quintessential Safaricom jazz event. The offering for this audience on our silver screens is limited.
Ngoma, a Kymsnet Media Network production will seek to talk to this audience and provide a weekly offering of some gems from the motherland. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what the current broadcast media is offering the youth. However, the biggest strength in Africa is our diversity and this is best captured by the sounds and rhythms that come from this great continent. There is another side that speaks of African pride, the African sound—benga, mbalax, rhumba, taarab, etc. There is also exemplary jazz and reggae sounds and others.