Kunonga proves his class

HARARE - Not so long ago, African jazz legend Hugh Masekela described Victor Kunonga’s music as “a fresh, dynamic international sound rooted in African rhythms; musically very superior”.

Kunonga’s endorsement by the straight-talking Masekela was probably one of the reasons why a fairly big crowd thronged the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa)’s ZOL Main Stage on Saturday afternoon to witness the Kwedu singer’s collaboration with Iranian musician Ramin Khalatbari and his son Abed.

And what a show it was!

The Wedza-born Kunonga, backed by the talented Peace Band, kick-started his performance with the delightful track Kubuda Ura, off his latest 12-track album Kwedu that derives its potency from scintillating guitar work.

The song is arguably one of the most skilfully arranged Zimbabwean songs ever.

After the fast-paced start to his concert, Kunonga continued to impress the bumper crowd with a varied play list gleaned from his four albums Kwedu (2015), Handinete (2011), Uyo (2006) and Such Is Life-Ndanyengetedzwa (2003)

It was an impressive showcase of originality and experimentation with diverse African rhythms in which Kwekwe-born lead guitarist Norman Masamba justified once more why he is so highly-regarded on the local music scene.

The only low point of Kunonga’s show was when he collaborated with the Iranians.

Though they blended fairly well, the collaboration was somewhat out of sync with the rest of Kunonga’s robust and lively performance.

But as spectacular as it was, Kunonga’s concert on the ZOL Main Stage was not the only impressive one among performances by Zimbabwean artistes on Hifa stages on Saturday.

Rookie Afro-pop duo Tinashe Makura and Chashe Musarurwa McTaggart delighted a packed Lay’s Global Stage despite being fairly knew on the Zimbabwean music scene.

The duo-which produced the 2014 hit Zvekupenga (We Go Together) — won a lot of new fans with their inspired performance.

Chashe and Tinashe, who are under the music direction of New Zealander Anton Morgan who runs the TwoAm Studio in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are a breath of fresh air among the country’s crop of upcoming musicians most of whom are playing Afro-fusion music.

The other Zimbabwean star performer on Saturday afternoon was the Bulawayo house outfit Djembe Monks who delighted fans in the Coca-Cola Green.

The young band, made up of Ndumiso Tshuma (DJ Black Cee), Emmanuel Nkomo (Rootz), Ngqabutho Ncube (Slimzar) Wa Afrika) and Khotso Nare aka Torturedrum, delivered a dish of moving rhythms underpinned by catchy basslines.

To the untutored ear though, Djembe Monks’ music seemed samey and monotonous.

If they are to take their blossoming music careers to the next level, then they have to infuse variety into their productions.

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