Getting all that jazz flourishing again
Once known as the “Little Jazz Town”, a Komani-born internationally acclaimed jazz bassist is on a mission to revive the genre in the small town.
Mlungisi Gegana has opened a music academy where he teaches budding musicians for free. His goal is to build jazz musicians he hopes will play internationally.
Mlungisi township alone has produced a number of musicians with the likes of Stompi Mavi, Margaret Mcingana, Mongezi Feza, Tod and Pat Matshikiza, hailing from the area.
The Mlungisi township-born Gegana has shared the stage with a lot of national and international artists.
Last year, he started his dream of opening the Mlungisi Music Academy.
“The idea started in 2001 after seeing children at a friend’s house in Mlungisi playing instruments. I saw the need to nurture the talent. It came to me that as a professional musician I need to come home and start the school,” he said.
Gegana said in 2007 and 2008 he did music workshops in Komani and has been working on his plans since then.
“I wanted to involve government departments and local businesses but none came on board and I had to run the school out of my own pocket.
“Now I have 27 registered students between the ages of six to 27 and I still welcome those interested in learning music,” he said.
Gegana said he lived in Johannesburg and travelled to Komani to teach young people.
“When my brain focuses on something, I do it. I teach these students for free and I am doing what I love,” said Gegana.
He said music had changed over the years. His academy is not exclusively for budding jazz artists, as he also accommodates upcoming DJs who want to learn how to create melody.
“The only challenge they have is equipment as most of the students don’t have equipment at their homes. They only practise at the school. In order to master music you need to practise all the time.
“Most of my students came to me not knowing how to sit in front of the piano or even hold a guitar,” he said.
One of those is Yongama Msitshana. “I loved music and I have always been interested in music production. With the knowledge I get from the academy, I will be able to produce my own songs.
“This academy has changed my life and I am willing to share my experience with others,” he said.
Gegana said they do theory and practical and focus mainly on theory on Saturdays.
“I want to build people who will compete with the world and I don’t want to build something that will vanish in two days. I want to create an environment where musicians will feel at home,” Gegana said.
He said his students were dedicated. “What keeps me going is that I wanted to do this and I have my own equipment so there is no stopping this school.
“A friend, Thembelani Ntaba, comes in now and then to help teach the kids,” he said...