Family confirm death of acclaimed trumpeter Brian Thusi

Dr Nhlanhla Brian Thusi
Image: Tsheko Kabasia

Internationally acclaimed jazz musician‚ scholar and producer Dr Nhlanhla Brian Thusi has died.

His family confirmed that Thusi died following kidney failure at Durban's St Augustine’s Hospital on Tuesday night. He had been admitted on Monday after complications from a routine dialysis.

Thusi‚ 66‚ who was married to KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development Weziwe Gcotyelwa Thusi‚ recorded and performed with artists and bands including Hotep Galleta‚ Mbongeni Ngema‚ Darius Brubeck‚ Ladysmith Black Mambazo‚ Caiphus Semenya‚ Hugh Masekela and Sipho Gumede.

Family spokesperson Vukani Mbhele said in a statement: "A scholar and lover of arts‚ he performed at Soul Jazz Festival in Richards Bay‚ on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast‚ last Saturday‚ sharing the platform with Chris Walker and Regina Belle‚ delivering a thrilling performance as always.

"On Monday‚ he went for his routine dialysis‚ but later developed complications. He was then admitted to hospital‚ although not showing signs of being seriously ill. The following day he was put on life support and sadly passed on. As a family‚ we find it hard to accept that he is gone."

Mbhele said he was a loving husband‚ father‚ grandfather and community builder.

"He was very passionate about developing young talent and loved his craft‚ as he spent most of his time perfecting his talents. He will be sorely missed for his carefree attitude‚ always cracking jokes. He loved people‚ always socialising easily with anyone‚ no matter what social status they occupied."

Dozens of music lovers and his colleagues paid tribute to Thusi on social media‚ including jazz aficionado Kiru Naidoo who said he was listening to Ukhozi FM and the generous tributes being paid to him.

The trumpeter‚ who was born in Umlazi‚ started playing brass instruments at the age of 10‚ taught by his late father‚ who was a religious minister and was based in Port Elizabeth at the time. His jazz talent was discovered by the late SD Ngcobo‚ a former principal of Ohlange high school‚ Inanda‚ north of Durban‚ who identified Thusi's jazz talent.

Thusi‚ who performed in Australia‚ Nigeria‚ Namibia‚ Zimbabwe‚ New Zealand‚ Botswana‚ France‚ Germany‚ USA‚ Spain‚ England‚ Ghana and Japan‚ trained young SA brass musicians for the 2000 Sydney Olympics‚ where they performed in the official opening of the Games with other young musicians from all over the world.

He co-produced his debut album Future Talk‚ which was launched in 2009. In 2010 it was nominated for a Sama as the best traditional jazz album. He recorded two more albums‚ Bonga and Thokoza. He is survived by his wife‚ his children Mongezi‚ Songezo‚ and Bahla‚ his two brothers and three grandchildren.

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