Jazz icon Ntsamai passes on

ONE of the country's jazz stalwarts, Shep Ntsamai of the African Jazz Pioneers, has died. He was 79 years old.

ONE of the country's jazz stalwarts, Shep Ntsamai of the African Jazz Pioneers, has died. He was 79 years old.

Ntsamai helped found one of the most enduring jazz outfits in the country, the African Jazz Pioneers, which in its fold also had the late Ntemi Piliso.

Hei died on Friday at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg after suffering from a heart-related illness.

Ntsamai had a long and fruitful association with jazz music, having learned to play the saxophone in 1952. He played for bands such as the Metronome Jazz Combo, Savoy Havana and African Swingsters, a group he played with until 1960.

He, however, is especially known for his role in the African Jazz Pioneers, whose genesis was located within the culturally vibrant 1960s.

Big bands were the in-thing then, with Dorkay House being the nucleus of jazz music in the country.

Ntsamai leaves a wife, four daughters and three sons. He will be buried at the Lenasia Cemetery, south of Johannesburg, on Saturday.

The funeral service will be held at Naledi Hall, Soweto, from 8am to 10am, after which the funeral procession will leave for the cemetery.

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