By Fannuel Wallah, African Arts Council, 2013
On a cool Sunday afternoon on the 17th of November jazz fans and enthusiasts experienced a jazz show like no other at The Rich Mix in Shoreditch, London. We were blessed with the presence of the multi-talented, culturally diverse group known as Monoswezi presenting their new album titled The Village. The debut album is a collection of rearranged Zimbabwean traditional songs blended with a cool Nordic edge.
The group with its cross-cultural collaboration consisting of members from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Norway and Sweden gracefully strode onto the stage amidst a wild applause. One could plainly see and feel the audience appreciating the depth to which the richly talented Hope Masike delved into her soul to pour out her amazing essence in such abundance while also playing the mbira, Hallvard Godal’s clean and crisp saxophone technique, Calu Tsemane’s splashes of percussive colour and Putte Johander’s effective bass technique providing smooth linkages between sections. Erik Nylander’ss drum skills carefully balanced the tempo of the musical piece on show. The performance was filled with emotion and passion which captivated the audience to levels unknown. With a powerful sense of storytelling about African culture and the undeniable influence of the African tradition for example in the song ‘Mapfunde’ a classic traditional children’s song this album is both captivating and engrossing.
Monoswezi is indeed breaking new ground with its assured and sophisticated fusion of an African traditional sound with a Scandinavian jazz sound to produce relentlessly entertaining vocals and instruments. This group has created an intense, rhythmic sound that is quite rich and unique and as they performed their last song you could feel that the audience had witnessed one of the finest jazz shows around. What an experience!