Jazz in the Cradle sings its songs of freedom

With "Songs of Freedom" as its theme, the third Jazz in the Cradle event is set to take over the amphitheatre of the Nirox Sculpture Park in Krugersdorp. Taking place on October 27, the music, food and art show aims to celebrate musical legends whose songs ushered South Africa into it's present-day democracy.

Following the previous show's musical tribute to saxophonist Zim Ngqawana by musicians such as bassist Herbie Tsoaeli, sax player McCoy Mrubata and Feya Faku on trumpet, Songs of Freedom will also include a mixed bag of artists.

Besides music, Jazz in the Cradle will also feature pop-up restaurants such as the Whippet Pulled Pork Bar, the Jo'burg Culinary School and celebrity chef Reuben Riffel.

The show's musical director and pianist Nduduzo Makhathini talks to the Mail & Guardian about Songs of Freedom, his music and why he chose to bring jazz musicians such as vocalist Gloria Bosman, cellist Kutlwano Masote and bass player Thuto Motsemme together this Sunday.

It's your second time in the role of musical director for Jazz in the Cradle, what influences your musical direction for each show?
I work around a theme for the show and the story behind that theme. The musical ideas and arrangement are all my idea. Monna Mokoena (from Gallery Momo – one of the event's producers) gave me this music platform and I've decided to run with it.

What do you aim to achieve musically in Sunday's show?
I want to capture the mood of the past and present musical scene in South Africa, by having young, contemporary artists perform songs from back in the day. By creating my own take on classics, I've interpreted songs for the band to play.

Why did you go with the theme 'Songs of Freedom'?
The theme is to celebrate the legacy of South African musicians and to preserve their music. I feel as though politicians such as (Nelson) Mandela and (Oliver) Tambo get celebrated for their role in the struggle, while musicians like Abdullah Ibrahim and (the band) The Blue Notes get left out. That's why we'll be playing songs by the late Miriam Makeba, The Blue Notes and Abdullah. But we'll also celebrate some international artists who've played a part in global struggles, such as Bob Marley and Abbey Lincoln.

What process did you go through to choose this band?
Firstly, Gloria Bosman is a musician I have always wanted to work with. I admire her music – that's why I've chosen her as the special guest. And secondly, cello player Kutlwano Masote is brilliant and has a classical music background. While the rest of the band is like family to me, we usually work together.

Will you be performing in the band on Sunday?
Yes I will. But hopefully for the next show – after Songs of Freedom – I will only be directing the music and not playing it (laughs).

What are you working on besides Jazz in the Cradle?
I'm preparing to open for [US saxophonist] Branford Marsalis at the Lagos Jazz series in Nigeria next month (from November 27). And in terms of album recordings: following playing on Herbie Tsoaeli's African Time, I appeared on Jimmy Dludlu's new live album, which is set to come out at the end of the year. Besides that I've been working on my albums Sketches of Tomorrow and Mother Tongue, which are yet to come out. I also produced Mbuso Khoza's Zilindile, which won a Metro FM award (for Best Contemporary Jazz Album).


Tickets for Jazz at the Cradle are R270 on Webtickets and R300 at the gate.
Songs of Freedom starts at 2.30pm and the park will be open from 11am.
For more information, visit www.jazzinthecradle.com.

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