Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Oliver Mtukidzi: Nhava

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi’s expert hand at guitar and his gruff, grandfatherly bluesman’s voice have served him well over the past 30 years. Nhava, the elder statesman’s 48th release, does not find Tuku taking many chances, but when the music sounds this effortlessly good, why bother? Indeed, Mtukudzi is so comfortable on his own recording that he often coughs or absent-mindedly mumbles on tape; somehow, this is more endearing than sloppy, as the impressive music and its one-take-track delivery affects a rustic bond between listener and performer. This casual musical intimacy transcends bonds of nationality and language; the choral harmonies, a precise storm of drums and the resonant, almost percussive strings of Mtukudzi’s excellent backing band, the Black Spirits, are unmistakably African but universally appealing.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.