Tribute paid to the key master
DOZENS of musicians gathered at a memorial on Thursday to celebrate the life of Port Elizabeth jazz artist Siya Mdebele, 36, who has died after a short illness.
Mdebele, also referred to as Siyakeyz, was one of the original members of Take Note, a youth band that specialises in contemporary afro jazz.
He was admitted to Life Mercantile Hospital on February 8 shortly after performing at the Transnet Mossel Bay Dias and Port Festival. He died on February 22. At a memorial service at the Port Elizabeth Athenaeum on Thursday, Lefa Mosea said his friend would leave a void.
“He was my producer and pianist. All my compositions started with him. He had the ability to take the simplest idea I had and turn it into a masterpiece. He understood me.” he said.
Mdebele had been passion- ate about music since the age of 12 and received his first keyboard at 15.
He performed nationally and internationally, even alongside the late Hugh Masekela.
Former Take Note manager Thandile Petshwa said Mdebele had played the piano with sophistication and affection.
“Siya’s piano skills grew from merely trying to navigate chord progressions to beautifully and cleanly articulating notes.
He grew to be among the best improvisers who could masterfully change genres beyond jazz in PE.”
Mdebele’s wife, Unathi , said: “His music will live in our hearts forever. I will make sure his name never fades.”
A funeral service will be held at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton at 10am next Saturday.
MUSICIAN OF NOTE: Siya Mdebele performed widely