27-28 September 2019
Joy of Jazz Festival
1 October 2019
University of KZN
3 October 2019
Chisholm Recital Room/UCT
5 October 2019
Sterling High School Auditorium
“You know what Duke Ellington said about jazz musicians? Damn jazz musicians, can’t play the same thing twice!” It’s a classic Abdullah Ibrahim anecdote, and one that strikes a major chord with Zachusa Warriors. Comprised of Kesivan Naidoo (drums), Malcolm Braff (piano) and Reggie Washington (bass), the trans-national jazz trio are dedicated to the (he)art of improvisation. “These cats are heavy, man – they’ve played with heavy cats and they’re heavy themselves!” says Naidoo. The Brazilian-born, Swiss-based Malcolm Braff, has been travelling the trans-disciplinary sonic spaceways for ages, having grown up in the Cape Verde Islands and Senegal before finding his rhythm in Switzerland. Over the past two decades he has re-imagined standards, penned polymorphous chamber orchestra homages to Ligeti, burned a sensual slow blues back into African filtered groove improvisations with djembe dervish Yaya Ouattara, chilled in the classical Indian hammams of Calcutta with trumpeter Erik Truffaz, and speculated on how to bring his Brazilian beat routes back into contemporary jazz with a free-mode authority… beyond any “soul jazz” straitjacket.
Naidoo has travelled a similar path. The South African-born, inveterately nomadic, percussionist honed his improvisational chops with a “who’s who” of South African jazz giants including pianist-saxophonist Bheki Mseleku, saxophonists Zim Ngqawana and Winston Mankunku, pianist Hotep Galeta and many more. As a youngster he even (in)famously managed to get ‘Mama’ Miriam Makeba to wait for him to catch a plane to Europe when he was performing in her band! Naidoo is a fiercely original leader in his own right. As anyone who caught his live performance with The Lights at Carnegie Hall at the Ubuntu Festival in 2014 will testify to, he is the missing link in South African jazz: between Abdullah Ibrahim’s metamorphosing sonic fictions, Mseleku’s holistic approach to rhythm and melody, and that allusive jazz groove. Most recently he’s been fleshing out his sound performing live and recording with such downtown NYC heavyweights as bassist William Parker and Swiss-South African combo Skyjack.
It’s this restless quest for collaboration and desire to pay homage to their improvisational forefathers that fuels Reggie Washington’s creative quest. The 50-something bassist earned his “heavy” rep touring with a roll call of jazz luminaries including Steve Coleman, Branford Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Chico Hamilton, Oliver Lake, Cassandra Wilson, Don Byron, Lester Bowie, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Archie Shepp, Rokia Traoré and more. The self-described “360-degree musician” has been mainlining jazz, funk, R&B, blues, world and experimental music as leader of his own bands alongside the likes of Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison, Marcus Strickland, Jason Lindner, Poogie Bell, Ronny Drayton and more. “My music is a healthy musical mix paying homage to the forefathers and exploring our craft by journeying down new roads to help pave the way for the future,” says Washington. “For me, our music must evolve and I feel I’m among the select group of musicians capable and dedicated to keeping music alive and strong. I am determined to bring more happiness through the music and share it with the World.”
After an impressive debut at the legendary Bird’s Eye club in Basel in 2018, Zachusa Warriors are bringing their exploratory jazz repertoire to South African audiences in September and October 2019. What can audiences expect live from this trans-national trio? An unapologetically exploratory jazz repertoire that remaps the missing links between the choral music of South Africa and the church sounds of Europe. Expect an ear-opening trip through the complexities of African rhythmical beat routes melded with a deep sensitivity towards the inner and outer limits of classical Indian modal mantra vibes.
*ZACHUSA – ZA, CH, USA: it’s a trans-national thing.