By Edward Tsumele
To those who have been following the contemporary South African jazz scene, especially in the last 10 years, it should not be a surprise that jazz pianist, composer and academic Nduduzo Makhathini continues to climb musical heights in a rapid manner that he is doing.
The multiple award winning jazz man is clearly in a class of his own, especially when it comes to consistency in composing, recording his music, performances that never fail to impress jazzophiles, as well as continuing to dig deep into his culture to bring out that raw, a yet refined, fresh sound from his ancestors to share with the music loving public.
Clearly Makahthini came into the contemporary jazz scene with a mind of his own, a strategy of his own, and more importantly a self-determination that has seen him carve a distinct sound that is different from the rest of the sound that has been produced over the period in review.
This way, not only has he carved a brand for himself, but has earned many friends and fans, here and abroad, managing to spread his musical tentacles and spells to the rest of the world, including in the US, among other countries of the world where the art of jazz is appreciated and taken seriously.
And so when this week the jazzman was confirmed to be one of the top jazz artists of 2020, it never came as a surprise to many in jazz circles familiar with his trail blazing jazz career.
The South African US Blue Note Records signee, pianist, composer, healer, academic and producer, has recently released a music video for Umlotha and while enjoying the success of his incredible body of work, his latest album, Modes of Communication: Lettersfrom the Underworld has been listed in the top 10 list of the Best Jazz Albums of 2020.
The album has been listed alongside with Black Art Collective, fellow South African Ndabo Zulu and Aaron Diehl to name a few.
The thought provoking visuals for Umlotha depicts a man who is detached from his past and searching his way back home, while entering into dreams that show him the journey ahead. His journey is one that depicts preparation, invocation, healing and rebirth.
Umlotha, translated as ashes for in isiZulu defines the practice done by various African tribes and cultures of cleansing and healing which represents spiritual rebirth.
Besides performing, recording and composing, Makhathini heads the Music Department at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape.
Please find the link to the video below: