Jazz with pop and soul

Nathi Gcabashe. Pic. Antonio Muchave. 30/11/2007. © Sowetan.
Nathi Gcabashe. Pic. Antonio Muchave. 30/11/2007. © Sowetan.

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

Mention the word jazz and visions of old men playing tarnished horns come to mind.

But times have changed and both jazz artists and their audiences are getting younger.

Artists such as Nathi Gcabashe are refreshing and reshaping jazz by incorporating pop in their repertoire.

Gcabashe, 28, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, has just released an inspiring album called Soze.

He defines his sound as contemporary Afro-jazz.

He has assembled a team of experienced musicians such as Khaya Mahlangu on flute, Hugh Masekela and Mandla Buthelezi on trumpet, Tlale Makhene on percussion and Bex Roberts on trombone. He also uses top guitarist Fana Zulu and Themba Mkhize and Randall Scheepers on keyboards.

Other contributors are Bheki Khoza, Joel Klein, Themba Mokoena and Kunle Ayo, among others.

Soze was recorded live and it took a year to complete.

His singing style hints at pop proclivities. His beautiful voice rides over a melange of rhythms, from contemporary, soul, Afro-jazz and Afro-pop.

"It has been my dream for eight years to have a solo album. Things did not work well at first, but I am satisfied with the way it ended," Gcabashe says.

He composed most of the songs on the album. He says his album is about happiness, sadness and motivation.

His title track, Soze, is dedicated to his sister who died of HIV-related diseases.

"I wrote the song for all the people who are infected and affected by HIV."