Saturday 28 July
The Rainbow Restaurant and Concerts SA present the Mkhize/Washington Quartet in concert.
This promises to be one fine afternoon of music. This line-up recently debuted at The Orbit in Johannesburg and now it is the turn of the Rainbow faithful to experience the chemistry between pianist Afrika Mkhize and saxophonist Salim Washington.
That debut in Jozi brought two sold out performances and standing ovations so come and join the fans as they present their original compositions, balanced by their interpretation of essential standards.
Providing the glue will be Nigerian bassist, Amaeshi Ikechi- last seen at the Rainbow in Steve Dyers Quartet back in 2014- and drummer Siphiwe Shiburi.
DATE: Saturday 28 July
TIME: Music starts at 4pm
VENUE: Rainbow Restaurant, 23 Stanfield Lane, Pinetown
INFO: 031 702 9161
This concert is made possible through the invaluable support of Concerts SA.
Concerts SA is a joint South African/Norwegian live music development project housed within the SAMRO Foundation. Concerts SA receives financial, administrative and technical support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SAMRO, the SAMRO Foundation and Concerts Norway. Working with musicians, promoters, venue owners and audiences, and providing support to the sector through research and skills development for music professionals, the project aims to build a vibrant and viable live music circuit in southern Africa. It also aims to develop an interest in and appreciation of live music by showcasing music performances and conducting workshops at schools.
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IMAGES SUPPLIED: Salim Washington
Notes for Editors
The story of jazz saxophonist-composer-scholar-activist Salim Washington paints a harlequin voyage in search of one’s roots. The first generation in his family to be born outside of the plantations, Salim was born in the housing projects of Memphis, Tennessee. The narrative of Salim’s exposure to music is a remarkable one. When his family moved to Detroit, they lived in the notorious “Black Bottom” area during the 1960-70’s Detroit riots. As a young boy in what he calls “one of the most violent neighbourhoods in Detroit”, he was drafted into the neighbourhood gang at the age of 9. The leader of the gang played the trumpet and, having a soft spot for this young boy, goaded him into learning to play. Salim became very proficient, even surpassing the leader. Noticing the boy’s potential, the leader excused him from the gang. Salim credits this gang leader to introducing him to the trumpet, his first musical instrument.
Salim attended Harvard University in 1976 and subsequently dropped out to become a jazz musician. Returning to Harvard in 1993, he completed his PhD in 2000, while still remaining active as a performer, writer, activist and family man.
For Salim, the fascination with South Africa has been longstanding. It began with Gil Scott-Heron’s hit record, Johannesburg, about the aftermath of the 1976 riots in Soweto. The struggle was led by South African teenagers, and what impressed Salim was the physical resemblance with African Americans. As he investigated further, he found similarities in their culture, as well as in their social and political histories. Later he was introduced to the music of Chris McGregor, and learned more about South African jazz musicians in exile, such as Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Dyani and many others; “I was just flabbergasted that there was a place where people played jazz at that advanced level.” He felt a visceral connection to this place, and hoped that one day he would make his way there to be closer to his roots, culture and people.
It would take thirty-three years until Salim’s first visit to South Africa, when he was invited to teach at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2009. After returning to New York, he spent the next few years actively performing, writing and teaching while continuing to make visits to South Africa. In 2013, he became a full-time professor in the Music Department at UKZN. “This feels like home,” he reflects, “This is home. I am home.”
Afrika Mkhize started playing the piano at the age of six.
“I was surrounded by music at birth and never stopped loving it,” said Mkhize about his journey into jazz. ‘Jazz is truth. It’s pure emotion; it’s like taking a knife and cutting out your heart and saying “here it is, look at it, this is me”. Well you can’t talk about jazz without talking about blues and gospel music, and you can’t talk about those without talking about the slaves that were taken from West Africa to America. For me, that’s where jazz really began. It was a way of expressing the pain felt by a displaced people. But then, amongst the pain there were also moments of joy and those were also expressed in the music. Essentially jazz is an expression of what we are feeling in the moment. Sometimes we go on stage and we don’t know what we’re going to play, but we come together and we play music. That is truth – being able to take your experiences during the course of the day and express them that evening at a gig. That’s jazz – you can’t just play it, it has to be lived.”
At age 11, Mkhize was enrolled at the Funda Centre Music School in Soweto to study classical piano. At only 15 he was accepted at the National School of the Arts to further his classical musical studies and, in 1999, he enrolled at Pretoria Technikon to further his interest in Jazz, Composition and Arranging.
“Afrika Mkhize represents the exciting new face of South African jazz,” said Alan Webster, National Arts Festival committee member for Jazz. “Steeped in South Africa’s musical heritage, he displays a fresh, international perspective that places South African jazz in a new perspective. He is a pianist with serious jazz chops who has the versatility to play music from across the spectrum, from African grooves to hip-hop to straight-ahead jazz, and in any company,”.
During his school years, Mkhize was involved in arranging music for small ensembles and performing live with musicians in the Johannesburg jazz circuit. After completing his studies, Mkhize began working as a music producer, producing award-winning albums for Tlali Makhene, Themba Mkhize, Sibongile Khumalo, Kabelo from TKZ, Nokukhanya Dlamini and Miriam Makeba.
Mkhize has worked as a musical director and pianist for the late Miriam Makeba, and also contributed arrangements on her request for the Roma Philharmonic Orchestra in Italy. He has performed with numerous renowned artists, including Dorothy Masuka, Khaya Mahlangu, Zim Ngqawane, Musa Manzini, Vusi Khumalo, Sibongile Khumalo, Judith Sephuma, Oliver Mtukudzi, MXO, Marcus Wyatt, Zama Jobe, Papa Noel from France, Melanie Scholtz, Jimmy Dludlu, Allou April and TK. He recorded with Vusi Mahlasela and Nkanyezi Cele.
In 2010 Mkhize arranged music for the Johannesburg Philharmonic Harmonic Orchestra featuring Abigail Kubeka, Dorothy Masuka, Mara Louw and Zenzi Lee, for a tribute to women in the arts at the State Theatre, hosted by the Department of Arts and Culture.
He also scored arrangements for the Jazz Meets Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Prince Lengoasa. He is currently scoring full Big Band Arrangements for his favourite pianist, the late Bheki Mseleku, in his honour.