A musician of fine pedigree

2012-02-10 13:10

MiCasa has emerged as the hottest dance band of the moment, largely thanks to These Streets, the delightful scorcher of a hit with its signature trumpet.

The trumpeter, popularly known as Mo-T (23), born Moshe Kgasoane in Alexandra, is simply carrying on his family legacy.

His father is Banza Kgasoane (62), the founding member of the platinum-selling Alexandra Brass Band and his grandfather, Henry Kgasoane, owned the marabi Big Henny’s Band back in the 1950s.

It was in the Alexandra Brass Band that Mo-T, as a young child, found his feet. It was a good training ground that prepared him for a solo career.

As a 10-year-old bugle player in the Scouts’ Pathfinders, Banza himself was taught the trumpet by David Ramohanoe, who played the instrument in his father’s band. Banza went on play with Zakes Nkosi in his band and then with Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse in The Beaters before they became known as Harari.

He joined The Jazz Monitors Quintet and later the blues singer Ken Modise. He also teamed up with Ntemi Piliso in the Alexandra All Stars, which was later called the Jazz Pioneers.

Banza also played with Jack “Big Voice” Lerole and also featured with him on Kotopo music show on the then TV3. His career peaked when he joined Mango Groove and travelled the world with them.

In 2001, with the help of Condry Ziqubo and Thami Mdluli, he founded the Alexandra Brass Band, whose sound was dominated by a mean brass section of tuba, trombone, trumpet and saxophone playing church hymns and choruses, and then began a career decorated with gold and platinum discs for the various volumes they released.

This glittering success seems to be carried on by Mo-T, what with MiCasa’s debut album selling more than 25 000 copies in six months.

Music is central in the Kgasoane household in Kew, north of Joburg. Mother Patsy is a gifted soprano who sings at the local Uniting Reformed Church in Alexandra, while Mo-T’s younger sister, Matau, is taking guitar lessons.

Banza says to the untrained ear, it’s not easy to tell, but there are differences between him and his famous son’s playing styles. “It’s in the phrasings of his solos and the tone, and how he improvises. He’s got his feel, and I think if he mixed it with my style it will rhyme beautifully.”

Mo-T believes that his father’s influence permeates his sound. “If you listen to Milicent (MiCasa’s song), you will realise the style is quite close to my dad’s. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.”

Banza interrupts: “We used to have two trumpets in the house, one was perfectly fine while another was an old scrap.

Once my wife and I came home and we were greeted by the sound of a trumpet coming from the house and we thought the house was spooked, only to find that ­five-year-old Moshe is playing.

He used to fight me over my trumpets, demanding to play, and each time I flew out of the country he would cry so bad at the airport people would stop to stare. I am not surprised to see him where he is today.”

But Mo-T doesn’t plan to bask in his father’s shadow. “When we worked on our album, I wanted my own identity, obviously with influences from my father. For example, when I recorded Heavenly Sent, I dug deep into his style of playing jazz. I think the way I played it is how he would play it.

“I never want to be in a comfort zone, so I constantly challenge myself and listen to how other trumpeters play. Music changes and one has to keep up so I listen to players such as Blue Mitchell, Donald Byrd, Luis Aquino, Rick Braun and Hugh Masekela.”

The elder Kgasoane, who is recovering from an eye operation, says he still shares his insights with his son. “He mustn’t be based on one type of music, at least he knows gospel, marabi and mbaqanga. He mustn’t be drunk by fame.”

And Mo-T says he is unfazed by the fame and the overnight success of MiCasa.

He plans to pay tribute to his father with a special performance featuring him on the next album, while Kgasoane senior mulls over a collaboration effort of father-and-son in the future.

MiCasa came together organically at the end of 2010 and released their debut album last year, instantly garnering several MetroFM Music Awards nominations.

They have performed at all the major cities in the country and neighbouring states, and are hoping to capture the overseas audiences.

Vocalist JSomething has amazing vocals while Dr Duda lays awesome beats, but it’s Mo-T’s live instrument that gives MiCasa the je ne sais quoi, ensuring that the Kgasoane legacy is preserved for years to come.

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