Staging an African musical intervention

2009-09-25 14:33

From next Thursday through to Sunday (1-4 October) a line-up

of various acclaimed artists representative of the African diaspora are set to

play at venues across Cape Town.

Kora maestro Toumani Diabaté will for the first time ever

grace a South African stage, demonstrating his Mali-inherited stylings that are

influenced by forays into global jazz, blues and electro.

Chicago-based 9-piece jazz troubadours Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

are billed to illustrate the  trajectory of jazz development from the

genre’s earliest days into dub and hip-hop, and Cameroonian outfit Franck

Biyong with his Massak Afroelectric Orkestra will bring their

Afrobeat-influenced electronica, soul and hip-hop. The list goes on, including

names like the Culture Musical Club (Zanzibar), Ras_G & the Afrikan Space

Program (El-Ay, Western Sahara), and Wanlov the Kubulor (Ghana). South African

contributors feature internationally celebrated “Queen of Ndebele Music”,

guitarist Nothembi Mkhwebane, Fong Kong Bantu Soundsystem, and jazz

vocalist/trombone player Siya Makuzeni.

These, and others, form part of the second annual Pan

African Space Station (PASS) 30-day “music intervention”, which started on 12

September and runs till 12 October, streamed live on the internet.

The live music component is currently underway and will

continue till 4 October, in Cape Town

and cyberspace. This component is book-ended by a 24-hour praise party called

Songs for Biko, and will wrap up with Songs for Bheki, a tribute to late

philosopher and musician Bheki Mseleku. Those tuned in to

can listen to live debates, sound art, speeches, interviews, and above all,

music. This incorporates the sounds of artists from across the world, from the

ancient to the most cutting-edge, and boasts a cross-cultural pan-African


PASS is the brainchild of the duo behind UK-based band The

Heliocentrics, whose sound critics have struggled to categorize. Loosely

described as progressive afro-beat jazz, Neo Muyanga and Ntone Edjabe work with

sound, space, situation, word and image.

The venture, they say, is an opportunity for Capetonians and

visitors to engage up-close with the rich and complex web of creative

expression that binds Africans across the globe. PASS is also an exploration

into “spacial and cultural ghettos” in the city and how to link them

physically, via the live venues, and conceptually, via the internet. Daily

sessions at the PASS studios on 44 Long Street are free and run between 7-9pm

and are curated by an array of established musicians, DJs and artists.

If you’re not in Cape

Town, or are unable to make it to the venues, go to

the website to check out the programme and catch the festival on live streaming


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