The Chairman Friday 5th May – 11pm
The Jazzy Rainbow Friday 12th May – 8pm
The Headroom Friday 19th May – 7pm
In association with Concerts SA, band leader, composer and arranger Ményatšô Mathôlê – member and lead guitarist of Sakhile – embarks on a national tour with his ensemble that will take him to Gauteng, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
Ményatšô Mathôlê Ensemble will consist of a mixture of young and senior practitioners: legendary Mendla Zikalala (bass) will be touring with Ményatšô to all the cities, and they will be joined by some of the most versatile living legends: in Gauteng by Prince Lengoasa and the young creative and energetic Sphiwe Shiburi (drummers); in Durban by highly talented young Leon Sharnick (sax) and one of the most experienced drummers, Baco Xaba; and in Cape Town by young lion, Carlo Fabe (drums).
Mathôlê’s style typifies the constantly shifting boundaries between jazz and its ‘poppier’ cousin mbaqanga that, through the 70’s and 80’s, provided creative stimulus for both. His music inspiration is drawn from various South African folk and modern styles inspired by greats such as Cyril Magubane, Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, Bra Marks Mankwane, Morolong Kippie Moeketsi, Bra Car Koloi Lebona, and many others.
Mathôlê was born in Bloemfontein and was brought up by a grandparent in Thaba’Nchu, leaving the Free State when he was a little boy. He learnt from most of the older generation of guitarists, such as Enoch Mtalane, Baba Mokoena and Allen Kwela.
But his biggest influence of all time is Marks Mankhwane, who was the first guitarist Mathôlê heard as a young man growing up in Thaba’Nchu (Free State). “I’ve always wanted to be like Marks, to play like Marks, because his music is so real to me, so honest. It’s always been honest to me. You can take a simple Marks Mankhwane song and take it further, breaking it down, all this without losing Mark’s identity in the song, without losing any of the melodies.”
Like most youngsters of his generation growing up around the country’s townships, the first musical instrument, if you can call it that, was an old oil can with a board, held together by nails. He bought his first “real” acoustic guitar for 15 shillings from an old friend in Thaba Nchu, “who didn’t think it was right of me borrowing the instrument all the time, and felt that I should in fact be owning my own guitar”.
Hearing the late Marks Mankwane (of Makgona Tsohle Band) on record, was inspiration enough for Ményatšô: he packed his bags and set out for Soweto and the first backyard band he could find. Eventually he was recruited by Lucky Michaels to play bass with Era, the house band at Orlando’s famous Club Pelican. From there, he was selected to join the new-generation Drive with Bheki Mseleku, the late Mike Makhalemele and vocalist Lucky Mbatha. In 1980 he co-founded Sakhile, producing six albums plus a maxi album, and was involved in various cultural exchange programs internationally and locally. The band commemorated their 10th anniversary as a group at Wembley Stadium, celebrating the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.
In 1991 Ményatšô enrolled with the University of Cape Town to study music. The following year he recruited Motlatsi Herbie Tsoaedi and Vincent Pavitt to revive the trio he had formed with Mandla Zikhalala and Percy Kunene before his UCT days. This trio became one of the platforms for township musos such as Musa Manzini, Peter Ndladla and Clement Bernie. His approach to African folksongs and jazz standards attracted established legends like Robbie Jansen, Basil Manenberg Coetzee, Errol Dyers, Robert Sithole and more to jam with him and embrace his talent. In his 3rd year he arranged music for a documentary on Govan Mbeki produced by Bridget Thomson.
In 1995, running out of funds to study, he took his trio back to Thaba’Nchu where he teamed up with the co-owner of Rhythms Jazz Club, Jay Reddy, and established the first jazz venue in the community where he had spent the first 14 years of his life. He conducted workshops at the local Mmabana cultural art centre. After six months of no steady income he went back to Gauteng with his bassist Motlatsi Tsoaedi.
In 2005 Mathôlê moved to Kgabalatsane in North West. Here he teamed up with fine artists – Tony Makou, Roepsie Mahune, Kgwalepe Kgasi and John Pega to rebuild a music industry that accommodates all. Outside his rural village community he also takes part in community projects such as Ga-Rankuwa Mamelodi and Mabopane Community Development Forums such as Lesiba, Cafca and Bataki ba Tshwane. He has been working at developing choirs with the elderly women and schoolchildren at the Motsile Primary School. He is also volunteering- giving free music workshops for the teachers in his community. Freelancing, he recorded a few albums with Steve Dyer’s band. Together with the remaining members of his legendary band, he is planning a 7th Sakhile album. The last project recorded was a collaboration with Vusi Mahlasela and other musicians around the world titled Playing for Change.
Ményatšô Mathôlê’s National Tour is supported by Concerts SA through the Music Mobility Fund, a funding mechanism which offers opportunities for South African musicians to undertake live music tours.
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. For more information please visit our website, follow @ConcertsSA on Twitter at or like us on Facebook at
Artist Links
Events Listing Durban
Durban – The Chairman
Friday 5th May – 11pm – R 150
Address: 146 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Durban
Contact: 078 387 1408 /
Durban – The Jazzy Rainbow
Friday 12th May – 8pm – R 100
Address: 93 Smiso Nkwanyana Rd, Morningside, Durban
Bookings: 031 303 8398 /
Durban – The Headroom
Friday 19th May – 7pm – R 60
Address: 21 Bridlington Road, Seaview, Durban
Bookings: 031 459 0840 /
Event Listings South Africa
Johannesburg – Afrikan Freedom Station
Thursday 27th April – 8pm – R 60
Address: 91 5th Ave, Westdene, Johannesburg
Bookings: 073 852 5149 /
Soweto – InsideOut Jazz Lounge
Saturday 29th April – 5pm – R 60
Address: 1154 Machaba Drive, Mofolo Central, Soweto
Bookings: 071 113 5989 /
Parys – Partuma Jazz Club
Sunday 30th April – 3pm – Price TBC
Address: 2 Schochet St, Parys Industria, Parys
Bookings: 056 817 1123 /
Cape Town – Kaleidoscope
Friday 26th May – 7pm – R 100
Address: 56 Main Road, Claremont, Cape Town
Bookings: 021 6745761 /
Cape Town – Jazz in the Native Yards @ KwaSec
Saturday 27th May – 2pm – R 100
Address: 52 Ny 138 St, Guguletu, Cape Town
Bookings: 060 960 8935/