[JPL] Jazz in Swaziland

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Fri Aug 25 12:42:03 EDT 2006

Mkhize's cuisine of tradition and jazz

THE Swazi Observer brings you a profile of one of South Africa's greatest 
musicians, Themba Mkhize, who is billed for a debut performance in the 
country next Sunday.

Mkhize, together with Stimela will be joined by four of their Swazi 
counterparts during a day-time show dubbed 'Jazz Sunday' at Mavuso Trade 
and Exhibition Centre.

Mkhize has journeyed, since his 1999 debut album, 'Tales From The South', 
in unison with his audiences. The album deservedly won two SA Music Awards 
for Best South African Traditional Jazz Album and Best Producer in 2000. In 
his artistic sojourn, Mkhize has in triumph, communicated inspiring 
messages as a result of his clever composing abilities and sprightly piano 
playing. It is such artistic expertise that won him the Daimler Chrysler 
Award for South African Jazz in 2001.

Mkhize named his second album 'Lost and Found'. In 'Lost and Found', he 
continues to paint South African traditional 'rhythmscapes' on the jazz 
canvass. He does this by mixing of traditional South African rhythms with 
traditional jazz elements to produce a distinct SAfro beat. 'Lost and 
Found' was nominated 4 times in the 2002 SAMA awards.

The pianist, composer, producer and director sustains his exhilarating way 
of telling South African music tales on his third and latest recording, 
'Hands On'. The 13-track record is compressed with straight ahead jazz 
tunes, Afro-fusion songs that are strongly peppered with maskandi elements 
and smooth soothing jazz tracks. Mkhize continues being a custodian of some 
great local compositions as well as celebrates South African music and 
songwriters. "The songs in this album have always had a special place in my 
heart," says Mkhize.

His fondness for most of the songs, that he gives his own interpretation, 
is exhibited in their sprightliness. The album opens with his own version 
of Shosholoza (S'timela Sase Msawawa) The lively tune is an easy sing along 
and will be familiar to the ear. Mkhize dusts off Princess Magogo's 
inspiring compositions, 'Wathint'uPhefeni'. His version of Magogo's tune is 
stirring and evokes the soul, - taking it on a refreshing spiritual journey.

He sets new standards with his tight arrangement of popular composition 
'LakuTshon'Ilanga'. The pianist does not only create a romantic but also 
paints a breezy and tranquil atmosphere on the leisurely version of the 
popular ballad.

Mkhize also covers Dr. Philip Tabane's 'eMkobola' and Hugh Masekela's 
'Polina'. "Other songs in this recording pay homage to our ten years of 
freedom. 'Walk the Talk' is a warning against resting on our laurels. It's 
okay to talk about how we won our freedom but we should realize that the 
honeymoon is over. It is now time to work for our country and for every 
citizen to adopt a HANDS ON attitude," says Mkhize.

Mkhize's third offering, 'Hands On' won two of the major awards in the 
country namely Metro FM Award (Jazz category) and MTN SAMA Award (Best Male 

The gifted pianist, producer and composer was born in KwaZulu-Natal and was 
encouraged by his father to take up piano playing as a career. Mkhize was 
eight when he commenced his piano lessons with the help of his aunt. In 
1976 whilst still at school, Mkhize formed one of his first bands with his 
cousin and guitarist, Vusi Thusi.

Nearly five years later he appeared on his first high profile gig after 
joining Afro-fusion group Sakhile. The humorous pianist later joined Bayete 
and moved on to perform as a session musician with among others Miriam 
Makeba, Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu. He became a member of the 
political and musical stage play Buwa which featured a host of exiled South 
African musicians during apartheid. Being part of Buwa enabled him to be a 
globe trotter, travelling to countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina 
Faso, Libya, Ethiopia and neighbouring Zimbabwe. Audiences in Japan and 
Germany have also delighted on Mkhize music. Mkhize was part of Hugh 
Masekela's band when the trumpeter did a live recording of popular album, 
'Hope', in Washington DC's Blues Alley in 1993. He also features on Miriam 
Makeba's 'Eyes of Tomorrow' and 'Sing Me A Song'. Among the musicians that 
have benefited from Mkhize's music expertise is song bird Sibongile 
Khumalo. Mkhize was on the producer's seat when Khumalo recorded her debut 
'Ancient Evenings'.

Dr. Jazz
Dr. Jazz Operations
24270 Eastwood
Oak Park, MI  48237
(248) 542-7888
SKYPE:  drjazz99 

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