JAZZ: Mthunzi Mvubu Quartet
Review by MZWANDILE MAMAILA
From the time in the 20th Century when the late Hugh Masekela reigned supreme to the present, jazz has played a huge role in telling South African stories. Mthunzi Mvubu reinvigorates the beauty of jazz for the new-schoolers with a lively modern sound.
It turns out that I share the same hometown with Mvubu, so I make my way up to the DSG hall to learn how a 34-year-old man from Ekurhuleni has succeeded in playing jazz for the past 20 years. We were schooled in hip hop and house music. A renowned jazz saxophonist and flautist from the east side of Johannesburg is not what you get every day.
Exiting that hall after the show, I realise my attitude towards jazz has changed: Mvubu reiterates the importance of prolonging jazz music, even in this new millennium starstruck by modern pop culture.
From finger twirling on the piano to smiles and cheers from the bassist, continuous “yhoo!” exclamations from the drummer, and an ecstatic and whistling audience, these gentlemen in the Mthunzi Mvubu Quartet put on quite a show. The joy I feel eclipses what I’ve felt during field festivals or clubbing, the music venues to which pop culture has accustomed us. I am suddenly exposed to a not-so-new way of enjoying music; the pleasures of live music in an intimate space with other people.
The artists flawlessly execute smooth transitions, setting the mood for the next song. I am hypnotised; it feels unreal. “You only witness this in movies,” I confide to a friend during a show, amazed by the beauty and feeling put into the music. This is not the ordinary jazz playing at your local tavern or in your old timer’s vinyl or cassette player. This is a new jazz sound that is relatable to everyone. No matter who you are, you will not go a minute without nodding your head to the rhythms.
Don’t limit yourself to what is popping in modern-day culture; expand your sound and expose yourself to this musical genius and the various jazz sensations that are keeping the culture alive.
Keep in touch with him on socials:
Facebook: Mthunzi Mvubu