BY CityLife Arts Writer
In September 2021, multi award winning South African guitarist Vuma Levin was named as the Standard Bank Young artist for jazz. To this end he undertook to create a work commensurate with the scale of this achievement. The resulting product is his new album titled The Past is Unpredictable: Only the Future is Certain, out on renowned Dutch Jazz Label, DOX Records, on 19 May 2023.
This April, Vuma will be undertaking a tour of the Western Cape to coincide with the launch of the singles from the album, Yaka Yaka (17 March), Rites (7 April) and Wash’ uMuti (27 April).
Tour dates will include:
• 13/04 The Athletic Social Club (Cape Town)
• 14/04 The Commons (Muizenburg)
• 15/04 The Blue Room (Cape Town)
• 16/04 Jazz In The Native Yards (Khayelitsha)
The album was recorded across three cities, Johannesburg, Basel and Amsterdam. It features some of contemporary jazz’s most important local and international young voices, including but not limited to) Ben van Gelder (Netherlands, Saxophone) Xavi Torres Vicente (Piano, Spain) Bokani Dyer (South Africa, Piano) Shane Cooper (South Africa, Bass), Sisonke Xonti (Saxophone), Benjamin Jephta (Bass) and Matthias Spillman (Switzerland, Trumpet).
“Conceptually and aesthetically, the project utilises South African traditional indigenous musical practices and instrumentation as its basis. These are reread through the lens of contemporary South African jazz, popular music, innovations emerging out of the nascent new music, improvised and jazz scenes in Switzerland and the Netherlands and the orchestral dimensions of Western Art music.” Says Levin.
“The compositions are based on transcriptions of pre-colonial, traditional nguni-sotho choral and gourd bow music. As a result the instrumentation of the ensemble is entirely novel – traditional South African bow, percussion, vocals and lamellophone instruments are placed at the centre of jazz quintet, horn trio and string quartet orchestrations taking the listener on a sonic journey that traverses the rural areas and hinterlands of the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal, the townships of Soweto and Khayelitsha, the jazz theatres of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Basel, Geneva, Bern, Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the classical concert halls dotted throughout the European capitals.”
Aesthetic considerations aside, the 36 year old artist “Wanted the album to deal with what it means to be black and African in an age of globalisation, capitalism, pandemics and crisis. I wanted to explore how existential questions of dreams, love, loss, hope and fear, intersect with our status as political actors. Invoking temporality and its inherent mediation by society and the individual seemed the perfect metaphor for capturing all these themes. It has been an absolute dream come true to record this album across the three cities and two continents I have called home. Hearing my compositions rendered in this way is beyond anything I could hoped for and I am deeply humbled and grateful to everyone who was involved. I hope you find listening to it as precious as I found making it. “
He is delighted to be heading for the Mother City to perform songs off his new offering. “The tour of Cape Town in the coming week will see me play in a jazz quintet featuring Blake Hellaby(Piano), Darren English(Trumpet), Sean Sanby(Bass) and Jonno Sweetman(Drums). These are some of the finest, young dynamic musicians on the Cape Town jazz scene and in South Africa more broadly. I’m truly honoured to have them involved. We’ll be playing music from the new album as well as taking a journey into my sonic archive by playing older songs from my first and second albums.”
The Athletic Social Club R150
The Commons R120
The Blue Room R275 for the evening
Jazz In The Native Yards R150, R120 for pensioners and students.
BY CityLife Arts Writer