Unity Band all revved up and ready to make whooppie at Sec’s

2017-10-12 06:01
The Unity Band who will feature at the Jazz in the Native Yards session on Sunday 15 October at Kwa Sec Ny 138 no. 52, Gugulethu from 4pm.

The Unity Band who will feature at the Jazz in the Native Yards session on Sunday 15 October at Kwa Sec Ny 138 no. 52, Gugulethu from 4pm.

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The diminishing of great jazz spaces like Straight No Chaser, Tagores and The Great Wizoo comes with the emergence of young and great musicians whose almost impromptu styles of playing keeps you on toe to the development of jazz in Cape Town.

One of the new acts on the Cape jazz scene is The Unity Band, which will feature at the Jazz in the Native Yards session, this Sunday, 15 October at Kwa Sec Ny 138 no. 52, Gugulethu from 4pm.

The band will be playing alongside McCoy Mrubata.

The band was formed by drummer Lumanyano Unity Mzi, Brandon Hendricks and Gideon Johannes in 2012 with the idea of exploring jazz beyond South African jazz standards and contemporary music, says Mzi.

“We were first a backing band for MXO, Andy Mkosi, Bukiwe Zinganto, Obie Mavuso, and Lingua Franca performing in different clubs and festival such as the Zabalaza Theatre Festival, Jam The Session, Mother City Live and had residency at The Taj Hotel in 2014,” explains Mzi.

The band later stopped performing due to band members focusing on their studies at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music.

“In 2017 I gathered a group of my friends at college for a performance class, with the idea of showcasing my original music and other compositions from South African jazz greats,” he explains.

This revival led to more regular gigs in Cape Town’s Jazz venues such as The Crypt Jazz Restaurant and the now defunct Great Wizoo.

The ensemble now consists of eight members.

Mzi grew up in a musical family with a father who played Reggae. His career started when the drummer in his father’s band was not available.

Lumanyano is largely a self-taught musician and has been playing professionally since the age of 14 in his father’s band.

He has toured and performed with some local and international musicians and ensembles including singers Sibongile Khumalo, Nomfundo Xaluva and Zoe Modiga.

He has also worked with the UCT Big Band, Darryl Andrews Big Band, Dena DeRose, Luciano, Gentlman and Nomadic Orchestra.

He is currently finishing his studies in jazz performance at UCT.

Bass player Stephen de Souza was born in Durban and later relocated to Johannesburg where he started his musical career at the age of seven.

He is a third year jazz performance student at UCT. Since moving to Cape Town he has performed all over the city and has played in a few projects, like the Darryl Andrew’s Big band, the Little Giant’s Big Band as well as his proudly Capetonian rock/ska band Money for Bali.

Vocalist Thandeka Dladla is fourth year student in jazz vocal performance UCT. Her professors and mentors include Amanda Tiffin, and John Davids.

Dladla leads her own quartet in performances in South Africa and is also a part of the UCT Jazz Voices.

Lonwabo Diba Mafani started playing piano at the age of sixteen. His first piano teacher was his brother, Sabatha Mafani who taught him the basics of piano playing. . In 2014 he was selected as the pianist for the Standard Bank National B Band directed by Brian Thusi and was re-selected in 2015 under the leadership of Mark Fransman. Mafani is also studying jazz performance at UCT.

Guitarist Dylan Fine started playing the guitar at the age of 13. His versatility and adept approach to an array of genres has seen him perform with a variety of artists in all of South Africa’s major cities and abroad.

Trumpet player Marco Maritz is doing his final year in jazz performance studies at UCT. Maritz has been playing around Cape Town with artist such as Mike Rossi, Mike Campbell Big Band and working as a session musicians around Cape Town.

Alto saxophone player Ofentse Moshwetsi is from Klerksdorp in the North West.

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