Great African guitarists collaborate

HARARE - Book Café today proudly presents an exciting music collaboration between two acclaimed African guitarists as they open the October International Jazz and World Music Festival.

The 2012 International Jazz and World Music Festival is organised by the Italian Embassy in Harare in partnership with Pamberi Trust.

The two acclaimed African guitarists; master maskanda/jazz guitarist Bheki Khoza of South Africa, and Zimbabwe’s rising star Victor Kunonga will present a dynamic collaboration which is now in its second stage after a first meeting in June this year.

Opening the show today  will be the delightful music of “township-style” Kwela Kings from the City of Kings, Bulawayo.

In Harare in June, Bheki was accompanied by long-time music partner, jazz pianist par excellence Mncedi Kupa in
support of the collaboration, which was backed by Kunonga’s backing band Peace.

The collaboration started with intense rehearsals from July 27-29 at Book Café, in which the South Africans and Zimbabweans became acquainted and explored each other’s music.

The performance on June 30 was extraordinary — an unprecedented meeting between the mbira-derived rhythms of Kunonga, and the maskanda Zulu tradition and its jazz interpretations by Khoza and Kupa.

Khoza’s strong and strident maskanda-style jazz led in some songs, superbly supported by jazz pianist extraordinaire Mncedi Kupa (SA), and the band Peace — young Zimbabwean musicians of Victor Kunonga’s backing band who stepped up to the mark, experimenting with maskanda time signatures, falling quickly into the maskanda groove and gaining a rich jazz experience along the way.

Kunonga led Khoza and Kupa into the mesmerising rhythms of his music, rooted in mbira but encompassing African influences from far and wide, which has touched and entranced Zimbabwean audiences.

They were fascinated and welcomed the experience, also quickly fitting into the Zimbabwean groove and helping to create a music rainbow of vivid colour and energy.

Khoza and Kunonga were on fire: creative juices were flowing, which resulted in a high-energy top-shelf music experience.
Kunonga said “It was an interesting and exciting afro collaboration. Bheki is a man of vast experience, and he imparted a lot to us.

“In turn we were also giving him a lot of insight into what inspires our music — obviously the time signatures of the mbira music, and the general fusion of instruments.

“Bheki gelled well with the band, the drummer and guitarist was very quick to pick up his vibe, which made a neat unit without wasting time on the unnecessary, but focusing on the nitty-gritties of what the music is all about.

“The impact of the collaboration on the band was huge, just that experience — even I do not have that much experience; there’s a lot of things you come to realise.

“The band Peace was happy and found the music very exciting. The songs were so interesting, and everyone was fully involved.

“At the end of the day, it was a very exciting mixture of the traditional and the modern approach to music. We learned a lot, and I’m sure they got quite a lot from us as well” said Kunonga.

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