May 25, 2024

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Interview with Nduduzo Makhathini: This was my passion or not, I was born into it: Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist Nduduzo Makhathini. An interview by email in writing. – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Nduduzo Makhathini: – I come from people that valued songs. They sung as a way of making sense of their very own existence. Growing up, I sang rain songs, healing songs, prophetic songs, harvest songs and songs for rites of passage among many others. It all came from my family, the community and our extended community of landscapes, tree harming, streams and everything. So I didn’t get a chance to choose if this was my passion or not, I was born into it.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

NM: – Sound, like all natural things around me, has had its own journey. I follow the sound and through my observations and relationships with it, I evolve. I think I hear more, and sense more but it does end.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

NM: – I focus on musical ideas and I look for ways to be more in touch with my intuition. I don’t have sets of routines, I follow the spirit and in return, the spirit assist me with ability to interpret its sacred texts. It also possess me, and so I surrender.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

NM: – I think I change everyday. Sometimes the change is so small but change is a gift of being in the world. In jazz we refer to harmonic matrix as ‘changes’ which is the gift the cosmos has granted the art-form. So I really hope I’m changing.

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

NM: – I function in a mystical dimension, it refuses to be know. So I prepared at a human register, I write charts, organise rehearsals and deal with all logistical matters and health matters. Eventually, I submit and surrender all my efforts to the spirit world in order for a revelation to emerge. That is my preferred mode.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

NM: – It’s all one, it works as a network. All of it is a manifestation of wholeness.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

NM: – In ancient Africa these lines were always blurred, we think of it as a communal space. I try to approach my practice similar to how my ancestors did, and I hope they agree with my efforts.

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

NM: – There are just too many but thankful for each of them.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

NM: – Young people in South Africa are really interested in the music. Also the ‘jazz standards’ are evolving. But I still think it’s important to play the old ones as a ritual of walking in the paths that our foremothers/fathers walked.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

NM: – It’s all there, we are it and it is in us. Our cosmological understand sees no separation, we interact with the spirit worlds consistently. Coltrane was right and so he helped us.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

NM: – I would like to only be engaged in devotional music and nothing else.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

NM: – I am listening Princess Magogo a lot.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

NM: – Prophetic message from elsewhere in other worlds. I believe in the innerworlds.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

NM: – I want to move more inward.

JBN: – So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

NM: – No questions from me.

JBN: – At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview? 

NM: – I just look forward to reading this interview soon and sharing with the world.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Nduduzo Makhathini: The sonic shaman | City Press

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