Tete Mbambisa and his SA-UK Big Sound @ The Rainbow

Sunday 9 July
The Rainbow and Concerts SA proudly present a unique opportunity to hear Bra Tete Mbambisa, one of the elder statesmen of South African jazz, in a programme of Mbambisa originals arranged for his SA-UK Big Sound. Bra Tete is joined by fellow South Africans, saxophonist Bra Barney Rachabane (Hugh Masekela and Paul Simon) and drummer Ayanda Sikade (Zim Ngqawana and Thandiswa Mazwai). Playing alongside this all-star South African line-up are three outstanding British artists, Julian Argüelles (tenor), Chris Batchelor (trumpet) and Steve Watts (bass). All three have been heavily influenced by exiled South African jazz musicians in London; now significant stylists in their own right they perform in South Africa for the first time. This SA-UK BIG SOUND 2017 tour launches two new Mbambisa albums: ‘One for Asa’ recorded in the UK in 2015, and ‘African Day’ recorded in Johannesburg in 1976 but previously unreleased.
Bra Tete has performed and recorded with many of the giants of South African jazz (Johnny Dyani, Lulu Gontsana, Dick Khoza, Early Mabuza, Duku Makasi, Nik Moyake, Ezra Ngcukana, Winston Mankunku, Dennis Mpale, Dudu Pukwana, et al), and is one of the few musicians to have played with all three generations of South African jazz artists of the last TETE MBAMBISA fifty years. He featured in Pascale Lamche’s 2003 movie ‘Sophiatown’, and his compositions have been recorded by The Blue Notes, Chris McGregor, The Soul Jazzmen, McCoy Mrubata, Brian Thusi and Adam Glasser. His work as a pianist, vocalist, composer and arranger can also be found on many anthologies of South African jazz. His instantly identifiable ability to combine mbaqanga and contemporary jazz harmony defined his classic 1976 album ‘Tete’s Big Sound,’ and this musical signature remains clear to those with an ear for harmonic sophistication and rhythmic drive. Reviewing his 2012 solo album ‘Black Heroes’ Gwen Ansell (author of ‘Soweto Blues’) noted that ‘if you are seeking heroes, Mbambisa not only wrote about them, he also lived the life.’
Darius Brubeck writes that Bra Barney Rachabane’s playing exemplifies ‘the African Sound’ – a sound developed during his apprenticeship with two other South African titans of the alto saxophone, Zacks Nkosi and Kippie Moeketsi. Bra Barney began his career on penny whistle with the Little Bunnies and then continued with the Kwela Kids before switching to saxophone. He features on a number of recordings now considered South African jazz classics, including Chris McGregor’s Castle Lager Big Band (1963) and the Soul Giants ‘I remember Nick’ (1968). Along with Gilbert Matthews he can now also be heard on Bra Tete’s ‘African Day.’ Bra Barney worked extensively with Victor Ntoni and Darius Brubeck’s Afro Cool Concept, whilst projects with Hugh Masekela and Paul Simon brought his music to the attention of international audiences. The SABC made a documentary on his life and music.
Ayanda Sikade began his musical journey with Bra Lulama Gaulana in the Mdantsane-based band Vuka (an ensemble that also has longstanding connections with Bra Tete Mbambisa). Having been invited to join the jazz programme at the University of Natal (now UKZN) by Darius Brubeck, Ayanda went on to win the prestigious SAMRO Overseas Scholarship and has performed and recorded with many of South Africa’s most celebrated jazz musicians – you can hear him on live albums from the Bird’s Eye (Switzerland) and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with the late Bra Zim Ngqawana, and on Bra Herbie Tsoaeli’s ‘African Time.’ Ayanda is a regular collaborator with pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini, drumming on many of his celebrated releases, and is also a key member of Banz Oester and the The Rainmakers. A truly flexible musician, Ayanda can also be heard on Thandiswa Mazwai’s ‘Belede’ and on Simphiwe Dana’s ‘Live at the Lyric Theatre’.
Mam’ uVuysiwa first came to prominence singing with the Soul Jazzmen on the album Mankunku Jazz Show (1968). Now based in Cape Town Mam’ Vuyiswa lived for many years in Mdantsane and together with her husband, pianist and composer Bra Tete Mbambisa, recorded for the SABC with East London groups such as Masiye Voices.
Julian Argüelles’ unique saxophone sound first caught audiences’ attention as part of the legendary UK big band Loose Tubes. He cites a period of performing and recording with Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath as a fundamental influence, and through his worldwide collaborations, and searching solo projects, Julian has in turn been hugely influential to a new generation of British and European jazz musicians. His music has been described as supremely lyrical, with beautiful melodies, whilst staying cliché free. He won Best CD in the 2016 UK Parliamentary Jazz Awards for his album ‘Let It Be Told.’
Following a recommendation by trumpeter Harry Beckett, Chris Batchelor began his professional career in Dudu Pukwana’s band Zila. He went on to be a founder member of the maverick UK big band Loose Tubes and has also featured in two key South African big band projects, Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath and Louis Moholo-Moholo’s Dedication Orchestra. Chris enjoys a long term musical collaboration with alto saxophonist Steve Buckley, and together they formed Big Air with Myra Melford and Jim Black. In 2001 they won a BBC Jazz Award for best new work, and their 2009 recording was hailed as ‘the best British jazz record for 20 years’ by jazz critic Brian Morton.
Steve Watts has been the bassist of choice for many British jazz projects over the last 25 years. He was a member of influential big band Loose Tubes and has collaborated with Django Bates, Iain Ballamy, Julian Argüelles, Kenny Wheeler, Stan Sulzman, Jim Mullen, Joe Lovano, and Kirk Lightsey, amongst others. He is bassist for The Printmakers, a band featuring vocalist Norma Winstone and pianist Nikki Iles, which sets out to cross the boundaries traditionally separating jazz, folk and the contemporary music world whilst being united by a love of song.
Concerts SA Supporting Local Music
Concerts SA is a joint South African/Norwegian project housed under the auspices of the Stakeholder Hub within The SAMRO Foundation; it receives financial, administrative and technical support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SAMRO and Concerts Norway. By engaging with musicians, promoters, venue owners and audiences, the project aims to stimulate live music in South Africa by finding and implementing ways to create regular, sustainable performance platforms. Concerts SA 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 http://concertssa.co.za, follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ConcertsSA or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ConcertsSA.
Date: Sunday 9 July
Time: Doors open 1pm
Tickets: R100- at The Rainbow or Webtickets www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=409794326
Rainbow Restaurant
23 Stanfield Lane
Call 031 70209161 or e-mail nicola@therainbow.co.za

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