Nduduzo Makhathini – Listening to the Ground

Nomagugu Makhathini with accompanying vocals in the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz: Nduduzo Makhathini: Listening to the Ground show, at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The music from the show paid homage to musical ancestors. (Photo: CuePix/ Sithasolwazi Kentane)


Seen on July 3, 2015 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

The gentlemen do not let the grass wither. With this homage to the musical ancestors they are immediately in full force opening with Supreme Light, paying tribute to John Coltrane A Love Supreme. Impetuous solo work from Nduduzo Makhathini and Karl-Martin Almqvist from Sweden immediately makes mark of the  Standard Bank Young Jazz Artist Award winner. His fame and belovedness with the audience is clear when his broad smile and big beard appear on stage. The solid bass of Martin Sjöstedt and drums by Ayanda Sikade arrage for firework. My black neighbor shouts “This is amazing” and a few minutes later “My Twitter is burning”. She is recording 25 sec of music and sending it to her friends. On the other side sit a student on the floor, wanting to sit as close to the front to make sure he sees Makhathini’s fingers that are truly everywhere. Feya Faku joins the band for the second composition and his warm contribution is much appreciated. Swedish hospitality and South-African color blow new life into memories of the ones that have gone before.

Waltz for Change makes the above mentioned lady and her friends sing along, a theme for everyone. Makhathini explores the wide spectrum of the piano. Almqvist freely improvises and Faku brings a classic trumpet solo. This is a celebration of old and new friendships.

Next Nomagugu Makhathini  joins the gentlemen and adds deep, dark vocals allowing Sjöstedt to take over the melody. The drama of the music is built up strongly by the band. Changing the tone is a matter of fact. This contagious pleasure in playing and friends that make each other shine and tribute to old friends that you like to listen to again and again.

Makhathini feels very safe among the experienced musicians, but there is nothing to be feared. His play already is impressive. I am looking forward how that will develop. Powerful play with lots of accents, space and a warm vision.