Jazz artist Malcolm Jiyane set to leave audience in awe at South African State Theatre this weekend

The multi-award winning jazz artist will share the stage with rapper and producer Marcus Harvey, Tree-O and versatile musician BONJ on December 17, 2022 on the Fringe programme of Mzansi Fela Festival.

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

It was one of those occasions where the crème dela crème of arts and culture vultures, musicians, writers, visual artists and academics found themselves at one place a few weeks after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

“Hi. I know you,” she said smiling in the darkly lit venue. Dark in complexion, I could barely recognise her immediately as she simply blended nicely into the dark night in the venue. And so it took me time before her identity dawned on me.  “I know you too,” I eventually said in embarrassment as I recognised the lady. She is a well-known academic at the Unive4rsity of Stellenbosch, who I usually frequently bump into at cultural events, particularly jazz concerts and festivals around Johannesburg.  Soon I was introduced by a writer friend to a musician, a jazz artist from the East Rand township of Daveyton. The musician quickly shoved a CD into my hands. He asked me to listen to it whenever I had time. As I composed myself to take in the infectious sound coming from the stage, I was disturbed by a greeting from another friend, a well-known poet I had not seen for ages.

It is then that in that darkly lit venue, I looked around more intently and realised there were so many people I knew in the venue. It felt like a reunion of sorts by people that had not seen each other for a long time. The fact that  the country had just come out of a long lockdown and the accompanying restrictions imposed by government to control the spread of the pandemic, made the situation for longing to be together more intense.

The point is the place was packed, and there was a lot of dancing, and the sweating bodies on the dance floor were in their element.  People enjoying themselves really when I and three other friends, two visual artists, a writer and I arrived at this Jeppestown jazz gig late last year.

We had all congregated at this culturally vibrant venue in a nondescript back street in Jeppetown to watch jazz muso Malcolm Jiyane in performance.  He was launching his latest album.

Mid this year, I had to leave a concert at Joburg Theatre before Malcolm went on stage as I had to rush elsewhere. I did not forgive myself for that for a long time, especially because when he went on stage, I was later told by those that remained, load shedding happened. But the audience stayed put. And so did Jiyane and his band continue to perform as If nothing had happened. The show went on and the audience did not leave until the last song. Such is the power of Jiyane’s performances.

The point is Jiyane has over the past few years emerged on the South African  contemporary  jazz scene as an important voice, a talent to watch and he is simple damn good at this thing called jazz.

It is for this reason that those that will make it to the South African State Theatre this weekend are sure to have a memorable event. Jiyane will be in the house, featured alongside other musicians at this year’s closing festival, Mzansi Fela.  Jiyane will share the stage with Tree-O, BONJ and Marcus Harvey to perform on the Fringe programme of this festival. Do not be deceived by the name of the programme, as there is nothing to suggest that Jiyane’s jazz prowess belongs to the fringe of jazz music in the country.

“The South African State Theatre (SAST) in partnership with AKUM Agency is proud to present the multiple award-winning Malcolm Jiyane Tree-O, SAMA-nominee BONJ, and rapper Marcus Harvey on SAST Fringe stage at the 15th Annual Mzansi Fela Festival (MFF) on 17 December 2022.

A generous sideman and bandleader, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Malcolm Jiyane stands at the vanguard of his prodigious generation of jazz musicians. His recent debut album Umdali is fast gaining him global notice among jazz critics and lovers alike. With the album, Jiyane as a frontman, delivers not only a major contribution to the canon – one shaped around dedications to key figures in his personal and professional life- but an honest snapshot of his personal circumstances at the time of recording, when he was dealing with the death of a band member, the birth of a daughter and the passing of his beloved mentor Johnny Mekoa, founder of the Music Academy of Gauteng, which Jiyane attended from a young age,” gloats the statement from the South African State Theatre.

But the musician is not alone on this programme.

“BONJ was born for the stage! With a powerful soul voice and incredible stage presence, she blends electronic music soulful melodies and groove. Undefined by genre, BONJ effortlessly moves between Pop, Gospel, Jazz, R&B, Soul, House & Kwaito. Whilst classically-trained in Jazz, it was the love of dance and soul that led to BONJ seeing two back-to- back radio successes with the hits ‘Til The Tide’ (2018) and later, with friend and fellow female force, DJ Zinhle with the track ‘Against The Grain’ (2019). Her debut album ‘A Journal’ was released in 2021 and was recently nominated for Best Pop Album at the 2022 South African Music Awards (SAMA) with songs from the album being featured on the film ‘Coming 2 America’ and the Netflix series ‘Happiness Ever After.’

Born in Alexandra Johannesburg, South African vocalist, rapper, producer, DJ and songwriter Marcus Harvey embarked on his musical career as a teenager under the stage name Hipnautik. He credits his mother, Brenda Fassie and Winnie Mashaba as sources of influence. He has released an 11-track debut album called ‘I Am Marcus Harvey’ which is available for streaming on various platforms and features such songs such as ‘Areyeng’, ‘Be Right Back’, ‘Send Me To My Love’, ‘Whatever You Want’, ‘Find Your Love’ and ‘Alright’. The album reflects the trials and tribulations of young people as well as issues of love and loss, with a strong sense of identity at its core.

SAST Fringe is a cutting edge music platform created by SAST to provide opportunities for working artists that have been on the fringe and depend on their artistic and technical talents for a living. It is dominated by musicians who are producing music to enter the mainstream or commercial scene. Now in season 02, the programme was established as Covid-19 relief measure when artist had limited working opportunities, and has since created mass employment for all working on the front and backstage since it was incepted in November 2020. This SAST Fringe instalment features in the MFF that is underway until 18 December,” concludes the South African State Theatre.

.Tickets for the event range from R150 to R250 at Webtickets, which is available at the SAST, Pick n Pay stores, and online https://bit.ly/3UVDb0T.

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