Aim not to sweat

By: Busisiwe Kubeka

It requires not much physical activity: just the tapping of the feet,
followed by the snapping of the fingers and the tuneless whistling
along with the leading instrument/vocalists; that is when you know
that you are hooked.

There is but only one man who can make you do that: Jonas Gwangwa.
The African jazz artist, who was in exile for most of his life,
released the album in June last year. The ten tracked album, Flowers
Of The Nation,
is dominated by upbeat cheerful tracks and has more
vocals compared to his other albums Sounds From Exile and A
Temporary Inconvenience.

The multi-instrumentalist has a talented way of bringing diverse and
flexible sounds to the album that one may not find it hard to easily
connect with the songs. He has a knack of producing great
introductions to all his songs.

The disappointing factor of course, is found in his tracks Kgomo,
Ledimo and Freedom For Some (Is Freedom For None)
. The vocalists
overpower each other’s voices and one tends to hear alto here and
there, drowning under the ever so high pitched soprano and the tena
struggling to break through. Although the lyrics are clearly
articulated, the lack of unity in voices makes them sound
unprofessional, like a bunch of amateurs.

Another turn down would be for the fans that are into calm, slow jazz
because they would find that Diphororo and Flowers of the Nation
are the only two tracks they would be accommodated with whilst the
rest of the album is fast paced.

Going on tours to England and attending New York’s Manhattan School
of Music, staying in the U.S.A for 15 years, one would say that with
such a curriculum, it is no wonder that he has been nominated for the
Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe awards, just to mention a few.

It makes sense why at African people’s celebrations like a 21st
after party, after tears (after the funeral), Sunday afternoon braai,
family gatherings, wedding receptions and shebeens they play
harmoniously sweet melodies produced from stringed, wind instruments,
not forgetting the percussion band.

So now you know what it is about Jazz that makes its listeners so
tranquil, leaving them with nothing but a sound mind. This album is a
definite recommendation to those that would like to go wild and try
out a different genre: it is easy on the ears and a fresh revelation
too.

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