Nduduzo Makhathini has released “Amathongo,” the second single to be revealed from the visionary South African pianist and composer’s luminous new album In the Spirit of Ntu, which comes out May 27. The album was introduced earlier this month with the lead single “Senze’Nina.”
Makhathini is currently on tour in the US and will play two nights at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City (April 29-30). See below for a full list of tour dates.
“Nguni people or even Bantu tribes take dreams seriously,” explains Makhathini. “This is of course due to their Ntu cosmology that views the world in a triangle: the living, the living-dead (ancestors) and the ones not yet born. Thus dreams and rituals become a site for parallel existence in all three planes all at once.
“A great Zulu shaman Credo Mutwa explains ubothongo (deep sleep) as the moment of being one with the Star Gods. “Amathongo” is thus an acknowledgment of the Star Gods that see the future. It is a deep surrender and agreement (ukuvuma) with the greater wholeness of being.”
In the Spirit of Ntu is Makhathini’s milestone tenth studio album, his second album to be released on Blue Note Records in partnership with Universal Music Group Africa following Modes of Communication (which The New York Times named one of the “Best Jazz Albums of 2020”), and the very first release on the newly formed imprint Blue Note Africa.
A central figure of the country’s vibrant jazz scene, Nduduzo Makhathini assembled a band consisting of some of South Africa’s most exciting young musicians including saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane, trumpeter Robin Fassie Kock, vibraphonist Dylan Tabisher, bassist Stephen de Souza, percussionist Gontse Makhene, and drummer Dane Paris, as well as special guests including vocalists Omagugu and Anna Widauer, and American saxophonist Jaleel Shaw.
Folding a range of concepts such as ‘minor and major rhythms,’ ‘guided mobility,’ ‘active listening,’ and ‘ritualism’ into the project, Makhathini draws on his background in Zulu traditions and intellectual curiosities to inform his engaging articulations.
“I’m grappling with these cosmological ideas as a way of situating jazz in our context,” he says. “I put out Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds using the letter as a metaphor for the sounds coming from the underworlds. Previously, I had released Listening to the Ground which encored into this idea of listening as knowing. In the Spirit of Ntu is living in that paradigm of listening to the things that emerge from the ground. Ntu is an ancient African philosophy from which the idea of Ubuntu stems out. Ubuntu says: ‘I am because you are.’ It is a deep invocation of collectiveness.”
Nduduzo Makhathini Plays The Following US & European Shows In 2022:
April 25 – Kuumbwa, Santa Cruz, CA
April 27 – Bing Studio @ Stanford University, Stanford CA
April 29 – Dizzy’s Club @ Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY
April 30 – Dizzy’s Club @ Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY
May 30 – Spoleto Festival, Charleston, SC
June 3 – Blue Room, Kansas City, MO
June 4 – Blue Room, Kansas City, MO
June 7 – Take Two at Public Records, Brooklyn, NY
June 9 – Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA
June 11 – Vermont Jazz Center, Brattleboro, VT
July 8 – North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands
July 12 – Jazz à Vienne, Vienne, France
July 15 – Nice Jazz Festival, Nice, France
July 16 – Albinea Jazz Festival, Albinea, Italy
August 6 – Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival, Ystad, Sweden