From the quintessential postbop of Thelonious Monk to the otherworldly explorations of Sun Ra, Dave Matthews has a deep and abiding love for jazz. But his passion was first ignited when he heard such seminal South African artists as pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and trumpeter Hugh Masekela, after the Johannesburg-born singer-songwriter’s parents introduced him to their music. “I grew up listening to them from the time I was a small child: Hugh, Miriam Makeba and Abdullah, when he was still known as Dollar Brand,” said Matthews, whose syncopated guitar style and genre-leaping band attest to his eclectic musical tastes and upbringing.
“The music of South Africa is woven into the fiber and history of that country. It has a connection into South Africa in the way that Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan have a connection into what this country has become. My understanding of what jazz is begins with African jazz.”