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Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Jazz's definition is expanded at this spirited annual event in South Africa

Afrika Mkhize, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Chano Domínguez, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Jill Scott, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Jimmy Dludlu, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Robert Glasper, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Zonke, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Joe Lovano, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Louis Moholo, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Matthew Garrison (left) and Jack DeJohnette, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Ibrahim Khalil Shihab, 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Robert Glasper, MF DOOM and Casey Benjamin (from left), 2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival

The South African drummer Louis Moholo spent his set at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival drawing thick, arching lines of sound and inviting the audience to read between them. He worked in multiple dimensions, drums rolling and spreading out, his quintet building dark mists of harmony that somehow felt devilishly optimistic-even when they made a minor chord, or no particular chord at all. The songs reached into various aspects of South African tradition, but the group’s treatments demanded vigilance, pushing past those traditions and renewing them.

Toward the end of the show, Moholo, 73 years old and a standard-bearer of South Africa’s long, fruitful flirtation with American jazz, got up as the band played and started stalking the stage. He doubled back on himself and hissed into his bandmates’ ears, treating listeners’ attention like a dog on a leash. All of a sudden he shouted, “No, no, baby, no!” and Fany Galada, the band’s vocalist, answered, “Yes, baby, yes, yes!” The audience puzzled, and laughed. The group fell to a simmer and Moholo dropped back onto his stool. He called out for “Yakhal’ Inkomo,” a cantering South African jazz standard, and almost before the band could collect itself he was igniting the drum kit with something between a rock beat and a swing rhythm. (It was a lot like the quivering glide that you’ll hear on classic Pharoah Sanders records.) Moholo sent shocks through his cymbals without striking them very hard.

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Originally Published