At around midnight, Lindiwe Maxolo sang the last song of her first of two shows at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown. We were all gathered at her feet in the Standard Bank Jazz Café a few hours following Nduduzo Makhathini’s twilight time gig at DSG Hall. The two wove a web of a wonderful theme to celebrate jazz as existence music.
Maxolo presented songs from her much anticipated record accompanied by a power house rhythm section of Sphelelo Mazibuko on drums, Nhlanhla Radebe on bass and Wandile Molefe on keys. Trumpeter, Sthembiso Bhengu was there as a sole horns man. Watched by an awestruck audience of music lovers, Maxolo issued with a brand of elegance that celebrates the sure divinity of human sensuality. Her songs about love dared never to be soapy. Maxolo delved dexterously into her mature melody and message all the while Molefe managing to churn a colourful cluster of cords on the keys to match Mazibuko’s explosive voice. Radebe locked the time to hold everyone’s passion together while Bhengu’s horn defied the physical effort one must master to make such beautiful music, but is this not the meaning of virtuosity? To master the senses in the service of great art! In a way this was the meaning of Maxolo’s gig. The human body as the source and site of life edifying beauty.
Earlier in the day, Makhathini had declared his gig to be to a kind of communion commemorating the comradery shared amongst his band mates. Makhathini and Ayanda Sikade share a music partnership that goes back almost two decades. He has also been playing with Linda Sikhakhane at least since his debut record, Mother Tongue.
The on-stage hearty exchanges shared with Makhathini, drummer Sikade and Radebe on bass made for rich enough rhythmic context for saxophonist, Sikhakhane to take audiences into other realms. Apart from tunes from his latest record, Ikhambi, which won a SAMA for Best Jazz Album, they played music charts from Listening to The Ground and some treatments of music from his forthcoming record, Modes of Communication.
The band played with a kind of passion that turned the bandstand into a portal, a space to connect and converse on an otherworldly level. Their long and languid notes, along with their open and often cyclical phrases sounded as charged as an episcopal benediction or the transformative ritual of healer turning hurt to hallowed hope. Makhathini’s music was decidedly interested in the spiritual.
Moxolo and Makhathini perform again tonight at DSG Hall at 20h30 and the Standard Bank Jazz Cafe at 22h30 respectively.