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Nduduzo Makhathini Quartet at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz
Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini grew up in the lush and rugged hillscapes of umGungundlovu in South Africa, a peri-urban landscape in which music and ritual practices were symbiotically linked. The area is significant historically as the site of the Zulu king Dingane kingdom between 1828 and 1840. It is important to note that the Zulu, in fact the African warrior code, is deeply reliant on music for motivation and healing. This deeply embedded symbiosis is key to understanding Makhathini’s vision. The church also played a role in Makhathini’s musical understanding, as he hopped from church to church in his younger days in search of only the music. The legends of South African jazz are deep influences as well, Bheki Mseleku, Moses Molelekwa, and Abdullah Ibrahim. “The earlier musicians put a lot of emotions in the music they played,” he says. “I think it may also be linked to the political climate of those days. I also feel there is a uniqueness about South African jazz that created an interest all around the world and we are slowly losing that too in our music today. I personally feel that our generation has to be very conscious about retaining these nuances in the music we play today.”