We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Late jazz maestro hailed as the 'best' in his craft

Manzini also given top award for composition

Musician Musa Manzini has died following a seizure attack.
Musician Musa Manzini has died following a seizure attack.
Image: Rogan Ward

Celebrated jazz artist and music composer Musa Manzini who died on Monday is lauded as one of the best jazz players in SA. 

Born in Inanda, Durban, Manzini died at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg following a seizure attack. According to a statement released by the family, Manzini has had problems with malignant brain tumour since 2006.

He will be laid to rest in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday. 

In his eminent career that saw him playing with some of the country’s music legends and performing on international stages, Manzini released five albums.

Close friend and fellow artist Selaelo Selota told Sowetan that Manzini was the one who convinced him to study and become a fully qualified musician. The two met in 1992 at Cotton Club in Hillbrow where many jazz artists used to play. A year later, the two met again at Emmarentia, Johannesburg, and Manzini reiterated that Selota must go to Cape Town. In 1994, the guitar maestro finally registered with the University of Cape Town (UCT).  

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the death of celebrated jazz musician Musa Manzini. Subsequent to the surgery of the first tumour, he had five more craniotomies, three to remove the tumour that had grown back, and three to deal with the hydrocephalus – an accumulation of fluid in the brain. Manzini made headline news in 2018 after he underwent an awake craniotomy, where he played the guitar while the surgeons removed the tumour,” the statement said. 

“When we met, we just clicked. We were both majoring in composition and arrangement at the university. We were inspired by the same jazz artists and we knew our strengths when it comes to playing. We studied orchestration and many people do not know that Musa could write music for orchestras,” Selota said.

“Through our relationship, I was instrumental to get him a recording deal at BMG to release his first album. We remained friends when we got professional space. He was part of my band Meropa that I founded in Cape Town and we used to drive in his old BMW to gigs in Ficksburg near Lesotho. He was talented and loved touring.” 

Though he was born in Inanda, Manzini moved to Cape Town in 1985 to live with his father. One of the achievements includes receiving the Professor Peter Klatzow Award for composition and orchestration in 1995. After graduating with a BMus degree, Manzini spent three years as a part-time lecturer at UCT.  

He played and recorded as a session musician with musicians like René MacLean, Winston Ngozi, Vusi Khumalo, Jimmy Dludlu and UCT Jazz Orchestra, among others.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.