South Africa Notes
Friday July 29, 2011
I just returned from an exciting seven- day visit to Johannesburg, South Africa. Mr. Oupa Salemane from the JAZZ FOUNDATION invited me to bring my big band music augmented with strings and miscellaneous woodwinds for two fantastic concerts. There were two exceptional South African vocalist, Pu2ma and seasoned veteran, Sibongile Khaumalo. The highlight for me was being in the presence of the 91 year old Master musician, Dr. Yusef Lateef , whose compositions were demanding and deep! He wrote a stunning string quartet, which was performed beautifully as part of his presentation.
The best was a rare two performances in the majestic and beautiful Lyric Theater in the Gold Reef City Casino. The orchestra worked extremely hard and diligently putting together this power packed, diverse program. The second performance really jumped out of the box and “a good time was had by all.” Maestro Prince Lengoasa successfully conducted the huge orchestra through its paces through the diversified program. Be sure to check out my photos from this trip.
This was our first time to travel to South Africa. The people there are very cordial and respectful people. We were also fortunate to be in Johannesburg during the 93rd birthday of Nelson Mandela. There was a great buzz going around the city. We visited the Apartheid Museum, which was very heavy and deep emotionally. We were taken on a tour of the village of Soweto. This, too, was very educational and interesting.
Part of our activities sponsored by the Jazz Foundation was also to interact with young jazz students at Johnny Mekoa’s Music Academy of Gauteng. This is a greatly protected environment where dedicated jazz students from all around Africa come to study jazz. They make it possible even for the poorest students who have the desire to perform and learn about our music. There were some really impressive playing going on, too. Our standing ovation welcoming response was very gratifying. Sure felt like I was important! 🙂