June 13, 2024


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Zim Ngqawana: The Star, as “The most visible, hardest working younger man in jazz”: Video

25.12. – Happy Birthday !!! Zim Ngqawana has been hailed by Johannesburg’s leading daily paper, The Star, as “The most visible, hardest working younger man in jazz.” He is one of the new generation of South African musicians who are taking a fresh look at South Africa’s jazz and traditional music heritage. Zim made his mark at the historic Inauguration of President Nelson Mandela in 1994, where he directed the 100 person ‘Drums for Peace Ochestra’, led an elite group of 12 Presidential drummers and featured as a solo saxophonist.

This recognition came after a late start and some tough struggles. Born in 1959 in Port Elizabeth (in South Africa’s Eastern Cape), Zim was the youngest of five children who started playing flute at the age of 21. Although Zim was forced to drop out of school before completing university entrance requirements, his prowess won him a place at Rhodes University. He later went on to study for a diploma in Jazz Studies at the University of Natal.

Working with the University’s ensemble, ‘The Jazzanians’, he attended International Association of Jazz Educators Convention in the United States and was offered scholarships to the Max Roach / Wynton Marsalis jazz workshop and subsequently a Max Roach scholarship to the University of Massachusetts, where he studied with jazz legends Archie Shepp and Yusef Lateef.

Since his return to South Africa in the 1990’s, he has worked in the bands of veteran greats like Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela. He has also developed much time and effort into building up a number of small and large combos from the conventional quartet/quintet including his eight-piece band ‘Ingoma’ through to the ‘Drums for Peace Orchestra’.

Zim is committed to developing and creating an audience for new South African jazz, his music draws on influences ranging from South Africa’s folk and rural traditions to Indian and western classical music and the avant-garde. Grounded in his South African roots, the music is strongly percussive, improvisational and highly danceable.

For this reason, theatre and dance companies have been drawn into his music. Zim directed a quintet and composed several new pieces for the Free Flight Dance Company during their world premiere. Subsequently, he was invited to accompany the Moving into Dance Company on their European tour as principal percussionist. He has made several festival appearances in South Africa, and in 1993 he appeared as the guest artist with Paul van Kemenade and his ensemble at the Tilburg Festival in front of a large and enthusiastic Dutch audience.

In 1995 he toured the United States with his band ‘Ingoma’ and appeared at the historic Black History Week in Chicago. Zim has toured America, Africa and Europe, and has played with greats including Max Roach, Keith Tippett, Dennis Mpale, Andile Yenana, Herbie Tsoaeli, Kevin Gibson and Valerie Naranjo.

Zimology 5 time SAMA award winner. Founder of the Zimology Institute, Composer, Improvisor, Saxophonist, Flautist, Vocalist, Educator and Producer. He has worked with the likes of Max Roach, Yusef Lateef, Abdullah Ibrahim, Dave Burrell, William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Nasheet Watts, Donald Brown, Hugh Masekela, Mirriam Makeba, Jonathan Butler, Barre Phillips and many more around the world. He has composed on “Commission” for the Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 and for the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Wynton Marsalis. In addition he has also written scores for various film, TV productions and dance companies.

He has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival (Hague), Willisau Festival, (Switzerland), Tempere Festival (Finland), Vision Festival, Knitting Factory, Thelonius Monk’s 92nd birthday concert all in New York, USA, the Banlieu Blue and Lavillet Festivals, (Paris, France), Havana Jazz Festival (Cuba) including Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania.

He has also been an artist’s in residence at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tennessee), North Western University (Chicago, Illinois) and Kwa Zulu Natal University teaching in the jazz programmes and the Humanities. He has been nominated for the Yale University Fellowship Programme (Conneticut, USA). He has recently established the Zimology Record label and Production Company.

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