En­sem­ble touch­ing on be­ing born black

Cape Times - - LIFESTYLE - He­len Her­imbi

SHORTLY af­ter re­leas­ing their South African Mu­sic Award-nom­i­nated al­bum, Bhek­i­sizwe, Amandla Free­dom En­sem­ble are back with a new of­fer­ing that once again looks at the na­tion.

The band’s sec­ond al­bum, Born To Be Black, was re­cently launched in Joburg and Cape Town.

Founder and spokesper­son Mandla Mlan­geni is joined by Thebe Lipere (per­cus­sion), Os­car Rach­a­bane, Nh­lanhla Mahlangu, Sisonke Xonti (sax­o­phones) and Bry­don Bolton (bass).

For the launch events, the Amandla Free­dom En­sem­ble fea­tured guests such as vet­eran drum­mer Louis Mo­holo, Prof Salim Wash­ing­ton (tenor sax, bass clar­inet and flute), Andile Ye­nana (piano) and Siya Makuzeni (vo­cals).

Asked about the re­cruit­ment of Mo­holo, Mlan­geni said: “I’ve been twist­ing his arm ever since I met him – since about 2013. The first time I heard of him was around 2003 and I just def­i­nitely knew that this is where I want to be and who I want to sur­round my­self with. Many peo­ple wouldn’t think to call him. He’s in the big leagues. There’s also this ten­dency for young peo­ple to for­get the older peo­ple and chances are they can ac­tu­ally be in­formed and have a dif­fer­ent sen­si­bil­ity that would bring new life to the mu­sic.”

This mu­sic is a beau­ti­ful mix­ture of lov­ing one­self and also know­ing when to stop lov­ing oth­ers as can be heard on Sd­wedwe Rag. The sub­ti­tle of Born To Be Black fo­cuses on the con­scious soul.

“It’s bring­ing a life to mu­sic and bring­ing mu­sic to life in the sense that for a large part this rep­re­sents a uni­fy­ing voice. It’s a gen­er­a­tional mix of older es­tab­lished artists and younger mu­si­cians com­ing to­gether to cel­e­brate our mu­si­cal her­itage,” said Mlan­geni.

“There’s a ten­dency for South African artists to think we’re not ca­pa­ble but we’re putting our best foot for­ward and cel­e­brat­ing our­selves. We want to cre­ate spa­ces where it be­comes reg­u­lar for us to give our­selves love be­cause we know the re­sis­tance will be long, but while we’re do­ing that we need to nour­ish our­selves and re­mem­ber why we’re here. It’s about tak­ing pride in where we come from and cre­at­ing nar­ra­tives where we are our own saviours and our own heroes.”

This can also be heard on When Spir­its Re­joice.

About the song, Mlan­geni said: “Life is all en­com­pass­ing. The mu­sic I make is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what I’ve been through and where I want to see my­self from the fri­vol­i­ties of life. The sub­ject mat­ter is very wide-rang­ing. I have dif­fer­ent roles but in all those spa­ces, I still main­tain my essence as Mandla. There’s se­ri­ous­ness but there’s also time to boo­gie and time to self-re­flect.”

This is aided by the vo­cals of Zoe Modiga, who fea­tures on the 12-track al­bum. “I re­ally like Zoe’s voice,” Mlan­geni said. “There are 12 songs and she’s on five. I’m a huge fan of her work and she fea­tures on two of my al­bums.”

A huge part of the Amandla Free­dom En­sem­ble is the per­for­mance com­po­nent.

Whether it’s play­ing Cape Town venues for the orig­i­nal Born To Be Black se­ries a few years ago or the African Free­dom Prin­ci­ple se­ries of con­certs that saw Mlan­geni col­lab­o­rate with jazz veter­ans, the mu­sic comes alive when per­formed.

Mlan­geni said the group has big plans for this av­enue.

“The plan is to tour the project, take it abroad and show­case it on in­ter­na­tional stages,” he said.

“This is our sec­ond al­bum and my third of­fer­ing as a band leader so the next few months will be about es­tab­lish­ing a rap­port with other mu­si­cians.

“We want to en­gage our au­di­ences and make the mu­sic more ac­ces­si­ble be­cause the peo­ple who need to hear it are not hear­ing it. I want to take the mu­sic to places like Bara (Chris Hani Barag­wanath Hos­pi­tal) be­cause what if the next Miles Davis or Char­lie Parker will come from there? It’s all about liv­ing the mu­sic and tak­ing it back to the peo­ple.”

The Amandla Free­dom En­sem­ble’s new al­bum, Born To Be Black, is in stores and on­line now.

‘I want to take the mu­sic to places like Bara be­cause what if the next Miles Davis or Char­lie Parker comes from that part of our world?’

SWEET MELODIES: The Amandla Free­dom En­sem­ble in ac­tion.

FOUNDER MAN: Mandla Mlan­geni on the trum­pet.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.