Jazz fusion band is finding fame

2013-08-16 00:00

A FIVE-PIECE jazz-meets-poetry band from Pietermaritzburg is hoping to take its sultry sounds to the rest of South Africa.

ZCM, which plays both original songs and covers of jazz classics, has been building on a growing reputation for excellence since forming at the beginning of 2013, thanks mainly to its gigs at the Masons Mill Jazz Picnic, Cappellos and Sprytz.

The band consists of lead guitarist Zazi Mncube from Nhlazatshe; bass guitarist Bheki Khumalo and pianist Sandile Zulu from Dambuza; drummer Mzwakhe Shezi from Sobantu; percussionist Sandile (Ranger) Mtshali, from Edendale; poet Nonhlanhla (Mafire) Mabaso from Sobantu; and vocalist Thandeka Mthembu from Esigodini.

Mabaso said: “More and more people are loving our music ... I think we are the best band in Pietemaritzburg. Our aim is to bring jazz to life. We want to introduce jazz music to young people and motivate each and every soul who is touched by the message in our poetry and songs ... it’s overwhelming when a person in the audience comes up and says that we are speaking to them. We are touching souls.”

At the core of the band is Mncube, who has a recording studio in Edendale. “Zazi has been playing guitar for many years,” said Mabaso, who matriculated at Sobantu High School. “I think he’s the best in KwaZulu-Natal and I really wanted to play with him, so I approached him with the idea of collaborating with me on my performance poetry, in which I look at all aspects of human life — family, marriage, issues like rape.”

The partnership they forged has created a unique fusion of music and poetry.

As Mabaso recites the words, the band members play in the background.

They also perform plenty of original jazz songs and covers of music by the likes of Jimmy Dludlu and Jonathan Butler.

“We want to show young people that music can be educational, that it can teach them to grow as a person. Sometimes you can explain feelings best through music,” Mabaso said.

Mtshali, who is also the band’s manager, has known Mncube since childhood, but the friends only started playing together about four months ago.

“Zazi’s talent is amazing. He is the man with the magic hands. I’m still surprised every time I hear him play by how good he is. He’s a great musician and a great role model,” Mtshali said.

“He deserves to be so much more successful, but unfortunately, the Department of Arts and Culture and local businesses just don’t support local artists enough.

“That’s why so many of KZN’s artists leave. They have to go somewhere else to get the recognition they deserve.

“But we want to stay here in Pietermaritzburg to become the city’s band. We also want to take the band to a national level, even an international level, and maybe one day share the stage at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with Jimmy Dludlu.”

• Catch ZCM at Sprytz in Pietermaritzburg at 7 pm on August 25 and at Cappello’s in Pietermaritzburg from 6 pm on August 29 and from 3 pm on September 1.

• Inquiries: Nonhlanhla Mabaso at 076 070 4925 or via e-mail at zcmproduction@gmail.com

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