Jazz masterclass are primed for awards

Peddie-born singer Dumza Maswana and Fort Hare University music head Nduduzo Makhathini lead the pack of nominees for the inaugural Mzantsi Jazz Awards next month.

Dumza Maswana Picture: File

Makhathini and Maswana have both been nominated in the best male jazz artist, best jazz song, best traditional jazz album and best jazz album categories. In addition, Makhathini has been nominated for best international collaboration on a jazz album.

Legendary East London-born Tete Mbambisa is one of five finalists shortlisted for the lifetime achievement award. The board will decide between Mbambisa, Themba Mokeona, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Makhaya Ntshoko and Gilbert Matthews.

Makhathini’s wife, Omagugu, has been nominated for best female jazz artist.

Makhathini recently received a South African Music Award (Sama) for his latest work, Inner Dimensions, and Maswana received his first Sama nomination for his second album, Molo.

Maswana said he was humbled by the nominations. “This feels amazing and not to sound arrogant but it has been a long time coming. More than anything, it shows that I did the right thing on this album because everything was [done] according to what I wanted. There were no external forces telling me what to do, I followed my heart and sound,” he said.

Maswana said he was amazed that his song The Letter was nominated alongside Makhathini’s Sobantu. “Nduduzo produced The Letter and now he and I are nominated in the same category.

“These awards are special to me and every jazz artist out there,” Maswana said.

With its rich history dating back to the 1900s in the US, jazz is deeply rooted in the African rhythms and melodic structures. Makhathini said it was symbolic that the genre was having its own awards to acknowledge and celebrate musicians.

“South Africa has since contributed so much when it comes to the articulations and meanings of jazz today, whether through the jazz music that emerged almost parallel to that of the US or the South African music that developed in exile, especially in London in the 1960s. To think about what this music represents to me today being a ‘free’ citizen of the world and perhaps looking into what music is doing for us today in terms of negotiating notions of freedom and articulating ourselves as a people, I could not help but resonate deeply with this initiative.”

Makhathini said entering the awards came from a place of a collective memory and the idea of celebrating excellence, more than about winning.

“I also knew that the so-called big ‘artists’ were not going to enter since they are ‘over brand conscious’ and fail to support and elevate their own black-owned initiatives,” he said, adding that he hoped to help elevate the awards brand and “create an awareness about our people’s efforts and contributions”.

To vote for Makhathini in the best jazz album category SMS zajazz BA1 to 40439 and for Maswana it’s zajazz BA2. For best jazz song, Makhathini’s code is zajazz BS1 and Maswana’s zajazz BS2. —poliswap@dispatch.co.za

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