Ntando, Alexio put up polished, flawless act

HARARE - There were fireworks at the Book Café on Saturday night when singing sensation Ntando Bangani and Zimbabwe’s soulful singer Alexio Kawara put up a polished and flawless collaborative act.

The duo’s collaboration headlined the closing gig for Book Café events which were part of the Jazz and World Music Festival.

Blending afro-pop, soul, reggae and township jazz, Ntando and Alexio blended so well and their sound rose to unexpected heights, to the delight of the packed Book Café.

While Ntando is not a household name in Zimbabwe, his Saturday performance will introduce him to a multitude of music fans in Zimbabwe.

With his deep Zulu traditional sound and exceptional voice that articulates heartfelt expressions of love and loss, Ntando blended well with Alexio’s vibes, the result was an exciting treat for fans of both artistes.

As Zimbabwe’s urban, soul troubadour, Alexio’s music was masterfully intertwined into Ntando’s traditional compositions.

Before the Saturday gig Alexio remarked of his collaboration with Ntando: “I think we are under the same class, maybe not the genre.but we basically have the same fan base; people who appreciate real music.”
Ntando and Alexio’s collaboration was part of a larger project by Pamberi Trust, African Synergy Trust (SA) and it’s partners Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Doen Foundation.

The showcase opened with the Nama award-winning Afro-pop, Afro-jazz favourite Willis Wataffi Afrika whose 13 years as a performer on many different stages in the region was evident.

A thrilling experience for the fans was when Willis was joined on stage by Mehluli Moyo, the duo popularly known as Afrika Revenge, a band they started in 1998 but later split opting for solo careers.

In the afternoon, Book Café presented eight jazz fans with a spectacular “Jazz Showcase” featuring some of Zimbabwe’s premier and emerging Jazz musicians.

The afternoon gigs turned out to be enjoyable with fans relaxing and enjoying an outstanding delivery of jazz’s many different interpretations.

Among those who performed on Saturday afternoon were Dudu Manhenga and Color Blu, Kelly Rusike and Jazz Invitation, Pablo Nakkapa, Josh Meck & Mawonero, Sunsets, Jazz Regiment, Richie Lopes and popular new outfit, BlaQberry with Filbert Marova.

The artistes delivered a great celebration of freedom of expression through jazz with something for everyone.

There were two more stunning music collaborations between South African and Zimbabwean artistes which took centre stage during the festival.

From South Africa came the revered Zulu maskanda guitarist Bheki Khoza (to collaborate with Victor Kunonga), hip-hop-jazz pioneers Tumi & The Volume (with Chiwoniso Maraire).

Following on the wave of success of the 2010 and 2011 editions, the Embassy of Italy in partnership with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Pamberi Trust this year organised the festival.

Italian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Stefano Moscatelli said apart from several musical showcases and collaborations, there were also workshops for school children, young musicians and dancers.

“On October 19 an entire day at the Celebration Centre was dedicated to Harare’s school children. The artistes ran several different workshops for a large number of young musicians and dancers,” said Moscatelli.

Many other workshops, film screenings, discussions and music skills-sharing workshops were held at the Book Cafe during the festival period.

The ‘‘October International Jazz and World Music Festival’’ has expanded to include not just artistes from Italy but featured more local and regional artistes and witnessed more musical genre fusions, plus the introduction of a dance performance.

The event ran for five days, from October 17 to 21. The format of the 2012 Festival gave local artists several occasions to perform and promote cultural exchange with the international ones and will create new platforms for further opportunities.

Concerts were held every evening at the Book Café during the Festival, with three additional concerts at different venues, on October 19 at Celebration Centre, on October 20 at the Italian Club and October 21 at Mega 2.

This year also featured a dance performance, on October 18 at the Celebration Centre, by an Italian dance company.

Tumbuka, Zimbabwe’s well known dance group opened the show accompanied by the Drum Café.  

Artistes from Italy included Down Time Quintet, the well-known Giovanni Falzone Quintet and the Artemis Dance Company.
Regional artistes including Khoza will also be coming from South Africa and Mozambique.

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