Siya Makuzeni // أحمد [Ahmed]

Siya Makuzeni // أحمد [Ahmed]

Saturday, 6 November 2021, 9.00pm

Named after bassist, oudist and composer Ahmed Abdul-Malik, the pan-European quartet takes fragments of its namesake’s compositions as a point of departure for highly focused improvisations. The concert also displays Siya Makuzeni who is a terrific trombonist with a plush, fat-bottomed tone, a deeply soulful vocalist, as well as a dynamic composer and an inventive arranger.

Live stream from Johannesburg / ca. 30 min

Siya Makuzeni / IppYFuzE
Jazz tradition has seen its fair share of instrumentalists whose vocal skills have sometimes eclipsed their primary instruments, including trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Chet Baker and bassist Esperanza Spalding. South African trombonist Siya Makuzeni should be added to this elite list. She is not only a refined soloist on the slinky brass instrument, but a talented composer, bandleader, and arranger, to say nothing of her remarkably soulful singing, whether tackling swinging balladry with her sextet or pop-rock in her group IppYFuzE. Over the last decade, she has become an international figure, with a seemingly limitless potential and endless curiosity. Rather than compartmentalizing each of her multi-faceted endeavours in specific projects, Makuzeni effortlessly draws upon her disparate interests in all of them, fluently enfolding ideas from jazz, soul and rock. As a singer, she can scat with the alacrity and force of Dee Dee Bridgewater or croon with the elastic precision of Anita Baker, and her repertoire craftily entwines post-bop grooves with an R&B backbeat.

Sphelelo Mazibuko drums
Dalisu Ndlazi bass
Sanele Phakhathi piano, keys
Sisonke Xonti tenor saxophone
Thabo Sikhakhane trumpet
Al Dirt Du Toit guitar

This concert is part of Jazzfest Berlin – Johannesburg
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Live concert in Berlin / ca. 50 min

أحمد [Ahmed]: “Nights on Saturn”
This explosive quartet is named for the great bassist, oudist, and composer Ahmed Abdul-Malik who famously worked with pianists Thelonious Monk and Randy Weston in the late 1950s. On his own, he developed a fascinating fusion of hard bop and Arabic music, and it is his work as a composer that the quartet celebrates. The group features the brilliant British pianist Pat Thomas along with French drummer Antonin Gerbal, Berlin-based Swedish bassist Joel Grip (who together have a ferocious improvising trio called Ism), and British saxophonist Seymour Wright. The quartet has released three galvanic albums thus far, each one utilizing an isolated Abdul-Malik riff as a point of departure, cycling through a simple pattern with obsessive ardor. On the latest recording “Nights on Saturn”, the group rips through sequences of swinging post-bop and maniacal grooves through which Grip and Gerbal hold down imperturbable rhythms for Thomas and Wright to dig into and tear apart, locating specific licks and deconstructing them from every conceivable angle. They achieve a hard-hitting strain of hypnosis, elevating listeners with a mix of furious energy and ecstatic focus.

Pat Thomas piano
Antonin Gerbal drums
Joel Grip double bass
Seymour Wright saxophone

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