Thandi Ntuli slayed at the National Arts Festival

Ntuli teamed up with DJ Kenzhero on the decks and a powerful young band to create a reinterpretation of Miles Davis’ seminal 1957 album, Birth of the Cool.
Ntuli teamed up with DJ Kenzhero on the decks and a powerful young band to create a reinterpretation of Miles Davis’ seminal 1957 album, Birth of the Cool.

The vibe at Thandi Ntuli’s Grahamstown show was unlike anything I’ve experienced at the National Arts Festival. It had that sophisticated aura of the past jazz age, as well as the rebellious side of the new era.

Thandi Ntuli – Rebirth of Cool

DSG Hall

5/5 stars

The vibe at Thandi Ntuli’s Grahamstown show was unlike anything I’ve experienced at the National Arts Festival. It had that sophisticated aura of the past jazz age, as well as the rebellious side of the new era.

When it comes to Thandi Ntuli, the 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz winner, I feel like I’ve been sleeping and missed much of her work, and it pains me. This woman right here might be the answer to a lot of problems with local music. Thandi truly delivered in her June 30 performance on piano alongside Linda Sikhakhane on sax, Sthembiso Bhengu on trumpet), Senzo Ngcobo on trombone, Benjamin Jephta on bass, Sphelelo Mazibuko on drums, and DJ Kenzhero on the decks.

They did a few original pieces from Ntuli’s catalogue, as well as some crafty covers of tracks like Kiss From a Rose by English singer and songwriter Seal; The World is Yours by American rapper Nas; and an enterprising rendition of Mayo by South Africa’s own DJ Speedsta.

If any of these artists were to hear their songs performed by Thandi and her band, I’m sure they would insist on collaborating with her – she’s that good. Her covers of other works weren’t forced and weren’t lacking in creativity – so much so that the songs had me on my feet and dancing along throughout. My only regret is that the set needed to be longer, as this performance has definitely been the party of the festival thus far.

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July 2020

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