When it comes to jazz musicians, South Africa has produced some of the world’s greats.
Jazz drummer and composer Vusi Khumalo is no exception and he’s recently released his second album Reasons for Seasons, which not only speaks to South African jazz culture, but has taken a global tone.
The album’s release follows his SAMA and Kora-nominated 2000 debut album Follow your Dream. His band Dondo won a SAMA in 2004 for best contemporary jazz.
Khumalo has been hailed as one of the country’s most accomplished jazz drummers by critics. His musical verve is inevitably rooted in jazz music, but he experiments with other genres creating what can be described as world music.
The two-disc album opens with Africa unite, featuring Lebo Mashile with spoken word. In urban poetic prose she calls for Africans to assess their reality as a people, their leaders and to unite.
In the song, Mashile says: “If we knew who we were we’d know who we could be. We’d own the land we live on, our rands and royalties we’d grow the stars we need to guide us, they’d know when to lead and when to leave.”
The album is not solely steeped in jazz – it also borrows from other musical genres such as neo-soul and even Latin-American music.
My Rhythm is an upbeat, feel good track with a hint of salsa, the wind instruments − trumpet, trombone and saxophone come together to create a sound that is reminiscent of Café del Mar. Revered jazz musician Marcus Wyatt also features with an enchanting fugal horn solo.
The title track is rooted in sultry skatting – the story is told in very few words. Vocals by Sipho Nkosiyani and Siya Makhuzeni take the listener on a journey where the story of waiting for life to fall into place is told. The instrumental takes you through different shades − from an upbeat tempo and then back into a delicate mood.
As an album, Reasons for Seasons weds other genres with jazz creating a world music experience, with brilliantly composed instrumentals and vocals. It’s a great album to listen to if you’re looking for something mellow.