It’s more than just Jazz

And yet “it is just jazz” sings new comer Khethi. Very spiritual in her writing, Khethi brings a lot of questions to her audience through her music and interactions with them in between songs.  She has a lot to say, declaring that “she does not want my vote to be taken for granted.” It is easy to like her because one senses that her questions and statements are not forced, even if she does not always complete the question, leaving the listener to fill in the blanks. It is just jazz to do that, to pose the question whether it is in anguish, reflection or the mournful longing of a lover after a lost love.

She is unabashed in her expression, with joyful meandering sounds harking back to the unrestrained days of Sophiatown. With Woza moya, she invokes the spirits whichever ones are your cup of tea, losing herself in her music when her band is in flow and then surrendering herself to the reality of an audience before her and engaging them in brief monologues. She exhorts Africa to vuka and people to kula wena, themes that she returns to over and over again. Sometimes one thinks she is trying to say too many things in one sentence, such is her passion but it could also be the familiar effect when one expresses oneself in a language other than one’s mother tongue. So where Bob Marley would convey a whole message by simply saying “no woman, no cry” she attempts to explain too much by saying “I’ve got to exemplify.” Difficult words to sing which makes one focus on the words rather than the message. Lira, and Zahara have the same difficulty. What words to use to convey a strong message?

Her music is heavy on the bass but she allows all her band members to express themselves throughout her performance at the Soweto theatre.  The crystal clear sound in the auditorium took the audience on a wonderful journey of South African jazz and they responded with warmth and appreciation. It was visible during the performance and afterwards. Musicians are famous but not necessarily as wealthy as their fame suggests and it was good to see the revellers lining up to buy the CDs inevitably on offer after the show.

I was in a party of seven and all of them loved the performance, her voice, her band and her lyrics. So did I. The missus had bought the CD online weeks earlier and it was straight to SOWETO thereafter, a fitting end to the day after an afternoon at the derby. The SOWETO derby. BD

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