There is no freedom as bold as brass

2016-10-09 16:01

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Sunday afternoon. The shards of cloth and plastic caught in the razor wire along the top of the perimeter wall of the gully at the back of the Rainbow Jazz Club are bathed in soft, yellow sunlight that occasionally flashes off the broken bottles embedded in the concrete coating the row of aged red brick.

The stench of the drain on the other side of the gully is in a battle for supremacy with the aroma of grilling chicken pouring out of the kitchen extractor fan and a waft of what may or may not be Swaziland’s finest.

I’m seated on an upside-down plastic Amstel quart case. My paw is wrapped around one of its former occupants. There are beads of condensation running down the outside of the ingudu and onto my hand.

The gully has been something of an impromptu dressing room for musicians since the Rainbow opened. Today is no different, except that we’re in the presence of a legend – Louis Tebogo Moholo.

Moholo’s having a cup of tea and cooling off after two mad sets with the Amandla Freedom Ensemble (AFE).

The AFE have wrapped up their Born to Be Black tour with Bra Louis with the Rainbow gig. The AFE are cool. Hard. No rules. Assault GBH jazz. None of that one-two-three-four sh*t. Tune up? We’re tuned up already, baby.

The AFE landed in Durban from Maputo at 2.30am. They have lived up to their name. The six-piece has freely un-ensembled into a quartet for the gig. Bra Louis, trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni and pianist Andile Yenana, with Durban bassist Ildo Nandja standing in.

Bra Louis is 76 years old. Bra Louis was one of the Blue Notes. Bra Louis is one of the cats who put the free in free jazz.

“Let’s play, man,” Bra Louis bellows. The four of them tear the Rainbow apart. It’s full-tilt boogie, charging, free-flowing sound. Nobody notices the missing members – Bra Louis plays like five drummers in one.

Bra Louis interrupts his tea and rap about jazz and freedom to sign a bag of CDs that a collector, who flew to Durban from Jozi for the gig, brought with her for him to autograph. It’s a big bag.

Bra Louis finishes signing, turns back to his tea and his rap about jazz and freedom.

“Who says there are rules for jazz?” Bra Louis asks. “Trumpet should solo, then sax. The drummer should just keep time for everybody else. Do I look like some kinda timekeeper to you, man?”

Bra Louis picks up his cymbal case and heads off to get paid.

Read more on:    jazz

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