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Old Favourites in Thrilling New Guises

London November 2016

Hugh Masekela review – 4/5 stars

Robin Denselow
The Guardian

Ronnie Scott’s, London
At 77, Masekela still likes to surprise in this memorable return to the club he first played in the 80s.

‘This is a wonderful nightmare,” said Hugh Masekela, as he looked out at the Ronnie Scott’s crowd, “because nothing has changed.”

He first played here in the 80s, when he bravely insisted on a smoking ban. These days he concentrates on concert halls and festivals, so watching South Africa’s most celebrated musician return to this intimate venue 16 years after he last played here was a rare treat.

At 77, Masekela still likes to surprise. The set contained no songs from his forthcoming album No Borders; instead he concentrated on reworking old favourites.

Chileshe now began with a gently slinky township riff from his five-piece band, against which he demonstrated first his flugelhorn work and then his even more thrilling and versatile vocals.

When he moved on to Market Place, he switched from lyrical passages to bursts of rapid-fire scat in which he traded phrases with his remarkable guitarist Cameron John Ward.
Then came a thrilling treatment of Stimela, his pained lament for migrant workers, treated with train noises and other vocal effects, and a rousing, theatrical reworking of Fela Kuti’s Lady that switched from Afrobeat to a rock guitar workout.

There were no lectures about the state of the world or South Africa, but the finale was a reminder of earlier, more optimistic days, with a treatment of his Mandela tribute Bring Him Back Home that had the audience on their feet. It was a memorable return.

In Africa We Are All the Same

uganda-airtel-hm

New Vision
Steven Odeke

South African legendary jazz artiste Hugh Masekela jetted into the country Monday night ahead of the “Jazz It With Airtel” concert slated for Friday at Kampala Serena Hotel.

The jazz concert to also mark 20 years of Uganda’s saxophonist Isaiah Katumwa in the music industry will offer Masekela his second performance in the country, since 10 years ago.

“The last time I was in Uganda, I had a great time and wondered why I never came back. Was it about something I said?” he joked, at the press briefing held on Tuesday at Serena.

The jazz stars pose for a photo with representatives of the event sponsors

“Uganda is a beautiful country and having this kind of collaboration with musicians like Katumwa helps us bridge boundaries in Africa.

“We are the same in Africa. We are a product of Africa and we need to start thinking about our children and ensure they retain their African heritage.

“The problem we have now is indigenous phobia that was created into us by people who are not even participating in our fights. We need to recognise that we are fighting for boarders that that are less than 200 years ago and were not created by us. We had great kingdoms that have since disappeared,” he said.

Katumwa was grateful for the opportunity to perform alongside Masekela and vowed to deliver a performance that will meet the expectations.

“There is reason I am African and I think such moment take us to our roots. You could not talk about jazz 20 years ago in Uganda but today here we are. I am happy for this.”

The show, sponsored by Airtel, Pepsi, International University Of East Africa and Serena, is expected to start at 7:00pm and take attendees through a rollercoaster of jazz music.

Masekela, a multi-instrumentalist and singer is regarded as one of the greatest jazz artistes from Africa and is famous for songs like “Market Place,” “Coal Train” and “Run No More.”

Zimbabwe – Bra Hugh in Epic Performance

The Herald

South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela lived up to his billing and left the crowd crying out for more at an epic performance at the 7 Arts Theatre in Harare last Saturday night as he dished out some of his yesteryear hits that have anchored his legacy.There is no doubt that Bra Hugh as he has grown to be known over the years is in a league of his own, but the only undoing of the brilliant show was perhaps the small cosmopolitan but appreciative crowd at the up market venue.

While jazz music has a distinct following of the mature discerning music lovers, the entry charges of between $80 and $120 must have definitely affected the turnout considering the prevailing economic conditions.

The jazz maestro trumpeted his way onto the stage with the popular song Sossie and that set the scene for the evening as he took the audience through a musical journey that featured most of his great hits including “Stimela”, “Khawuleza”, “Happy Mama”, “Lady and Thanayi”.

Dressed in all back, the 76-year old jazz master was in good spirits, having received a doctorate in music from Rhodes University the previous day and jokingly said that he had been sent by South African students to bring back the remains of Cecil John Rhodes who was interred at Matopos.

Bra Hugh was saying this in apparent reference to the ongoing campaign to remove or destroy colonial-era monuments down south. While commending the youth for their activism, he said there were more pressing issues that needed tackling.

The night of jazz organised by Ngoma Nehosho also featured Victor Kunonga and the Peace Band whose presence on stage was very brief and a spirited performance by award winning afro pop ensemble Mokoomba.

The energy and vibe of lead vocalist Mathias Muzaza left the crowd in awe as they churned hit after hit bringing out some distinct sound that could easily be mistaken to be West African or some other modern day genre.

There is just something about the Mokoomba outfit that hails from the banks of the Zambezi River and the international flair that they have managed to bring to the group. They are definitely in a league of their own and their professionalism raises the Zimbabwe flag high.

Back to Bra Hugh, besides dazzling the audience with his trumpet, his versatility as a percussionist was striking on stage alongside the other four members of his group, especially for those familiar with his music. Forget about the language barrier, everyone was singing along to some of the lyrics with the Cape Tonian flair and even some of the empty seats were a blessing in disguise as people danced on without anyone complaining about blocking their view.

Considering that the jazz maestro has a significant following in this country that he claims to be his origins, the organisers should perhaps in future consider making him more accessible through lower cover charges and accessible venues.

It was not surprising that shortly after 11 pm many left 7 Arts grumbling that the show had “prematurely” ended as some sought alternative venues to wind down the night.

Bra Hugh is great and that does not take a jazz connoisseur to convince anyone, but even good things should be shared.

South Africa Ubuntu Festival Kicks Off at Carnegie Hall

Photograph by David Cogswell

Travel Pulse
David Cogswell

Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela headlined the first concert in Carnegie Hall’s series “Ubuntu: Music and Arts of South Africa” Friday night, Oct. 10, at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. The concert was entitled “Twenty Years of Freedom” and was a celebration and commemoration of 20 years of constitutional democratic government following the downfall of the apartheid regime in 1994.

Also sitting in for part of the night were South African singer songwriter Dave Matthews and Somi, a singer songwriter born in Illinois of immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda.

The Ubuntu festival was produced by the Carnegie Corp. and others with support from South African Tourism and South African Airways, which were well represented in attendance among the community of friends of South Africa that gathered for the performance and the commemoration.

The Ubuntu festival will also incorporate other arts events at venues throughout the city.

The opening concert was dedicated to the triumph over apartheid, colonialism and racial discrimination and the overarching theme of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a southern African philosophy of community and roughly translates to “I am because you are.”

The Musical History of Struggle

Putting aside the songs from Masekela’s recording career dating back to his 1962 debut album “Trumpet Africaine” and through nearly 50 more albums he has released since, he and Mahlasela dedicated the evening to a historical review of South African popular music during the apartheid era in South Africa.

It began with “Meadowlands,” a gentle swing song dating back to 1956 in protest of the apartheid government’s razing of the thriving black cultural center of Sophiatown and forcibly relocating its residents to a newly developed suburb in the township of Soweto.
Masekela provided a narrative of South African history and the struggle for freedom of the native peoples since the first European incursion with the Dutch colony at Cape Town in 1652.

“For 350 years of struggle our people were never intimidated by the system,” Masekela told the audience. “We lived our lives trying to defeat the system.” In 1994 the defeat was finally achieved with the fall of the apartheid regime and the adoption of a new constitution that recognized voting rights for all South Africans.

As one of the most music-driven cultures to ever emerge on the planet, South Africa not only commemorated its history in song, it drove its revolution with song, and Masekela and Mahlasela retraced an outline of the history of the resistance to apartheid through some of the most memorable songs of the period, including Masekela’s “Bring Back Nelson Mandela” and “Stimela”, Mahlasela’s “When You Come Back”, and Johnny Klegg’s “Asimbonanga”.

Somi sat in on a performance of “Pata Pata”, a song made popular by South African singer and once wife of Masekela, Miriam Makeba, and the Swahili song “Malaika,” also recorded by Makeba.

Dave Matthews sang one of his songs and joined in on some of the others, including “Asimbonanga”. He came back to the stage for an encore singing “Sugar Man”, the song by Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez, which was a big hit in South Africa while remaining unknown elsewhere in the world, including the U.S., as shown in the film Searching for Sugar Man.

Carnegie’s Ubuntu festival will continue through Nov. 5 and will include performances by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with Paul Simon sitting in, and a tribute to Miriam Makeba by Angelique Kidjo.

Photograph by David Cogswell

Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela

vusi_masekela

Live Review: The Egg, 7 October

9 October 2014
Metroland
Alexander M. Stern

For those of us who came of age in the ’80s, South Africa was the human-rights cause. College campuses were filled with signs urging divestment and condemning apartheid, the South African policy of institutional segregation. If you were in high school or college around the time the Boomers were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Love, it seemed like our generation missed out on everything . . . almost. We may not have had an unpopular quagmire of a war to oppose (we’d have to wait until the 21st century for that), but there was still South Africa. Sadly, the support of international business made it seem like their unjust system would never end. The idea that deliverance was just a few years away seemed as absurd as . . . well . . . the Berlin Wall coming down or the collapse of the Soviet Union. Prophets we certainly were not.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa, and to celebrate, legendary South African musicians Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela have embarked on a cross-country tour.On Tuesday night, Masekela and Mahlasela kicked things off in the Egg’s Swyer Theater. Performing before a near-capacity crowd, the two master musicians presented what Masekela described as a “cross-section” of music from the various cultures that comprise South Africa. As was fitting, most of the music was high-energy and positive.

Masekela is perhaps most famous in this country for his watershed appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 alongside Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, Otis Redding, and the Who, as well as his 1968 soul-jazz classic “Grazing in the Grass,” which Masekela played early in the evening. In addition to his mellow golden tone on the trumpet and flugelhorn—the latter of which was on display on Tuesday—Masekela also showed off his passionate vocals as well as contributing some tasty percussion. Masekela alternated between his horn and a spirited tambourine on several numbers, and also played the hell out of the cowbell. Christopher Walken was right: You’re really gonna want that cowbell!

While perhaps not as well-known in this country as Masekela, guitar virtuoso Vusi Mahlasela proved himself well-deserving of his equal billing. He opened the show with a solo number gorgeously performed on acoustic guitar. His intricate fingerpicking made an effective contrast to his versatile voice. Mahlasela whispered like the wind through tall grass and whooped like a bird breaking the stillness of the morning. He ululated and even performed some low-frequency overtone singing.

When the rest of the band joined for the second number, the atmosphere at once turned electric. Mongezi Ntaka played the electric guitar, employing the mandolinesque technique of rapid picking associated with township jive groups like the Boyoyo Boys and popularized in the West by Paul Simon’s Graceland album and groups like Vampire Weekend. Bassist Bakithi Kumalo—who actually played on Graceland—offered up his liquid fretless bass and funky slap technique. Percussionist Francis Fuster and drummer Ian Herman wove entrancing polyrhythms that had the audience grooving.

Many of the songs were in South African languages such as Zulu, and while Masekela and Mahlasela did a fine job of explaining the meaning and importance of each song, the message ultimately came through regardless of language or cultural context. Many of the songs were celebratory. Some were angry songs of protest. But all of it spoke to the unconquered spirit of the South African people, as well as reminding us that injustice has not retreated from the Earth. In a particularly affecting moment, Mahlasela spoke of the wisdom of forgiveness. After centuries of war and invasion, oppression and abuse, the South African people have enjoyed two decades of freedom.

“We’re not perfect,” Masekela observed, “But we’re not underfoot anymore.”

Carnegie Hall Kicks Off South Africa Festival

Photograph by Brett Rubin

Carnegie Hall is kicking off an ambitious, month-long festival dedicated to the music and culture of South Africa

The Wall Street Journal
Corinne Ramey

Apartheid.

The ghost of that word—its history, injustices and the need, for some, to move beyond it—is ubiquitous in the music of South Africa, a nation for whom music and politics are inextricably linked.

This year, the 20th anniversary of South African democracy’s beginning and apartheid’s end, Carnegie Hall wrestles with that legacy in an ambitious, month-long festival dedicated to the music and culture of South Africa. The programming ranges from jazz and classical to traditional and pop, and includes both South African stars—the male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and jazz greats Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim —and music rarely heard in the U.S., like that from the Cape Malay community, based in Cape Town. Paul Simon and Dave Matthews, who was born in South Africa, will also make appearances.

The festival, whose events take place at Carnegie and partner organizations including the Paley Center and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, begins Wednesday and runs through Nov. 5.

Geographically themed festivals have been a Carnegie mainstay since 2007; recent festivals have been dedicated to Latin America and Vienna.

Africa, however, “had been conspicuously absent from the festival map,” Carnegie’s director of artistic planning, Jeremy Geffen, said in his office, which houses a menagerie of beaded South African figurines.

“We wanted to look at an African culture that had a really broad diversity,” he said. “Not just in terms of the ethnic makeup, but in terms of the stylistic diversity that would support a really in-depth examination.”

South Africa fit the bill. Carnegie dubbed the festival “Ubuntu,” a Nguni word commonly translated as “I am because you are.”

“Ubuntu is about humanity, kindness, love, compassion, respect, unity,” said the singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela. “It’s also about forgiveness.”

Photograph by Redferns / Getty Images
Vusi Mahlasela. Photograph by Redferns / Getty Images

Mr. Mahlasela, nicknamed “The Voice,” is a longtime anti-apartheid advocate. “With African democracy we say, ‘Invite everybody,’” he said. “Not just important people and business people, like other democracy outside Africa. We don’t leave anybody out.”

But concert curating, unlike democracy, must leave out somebody.

“Right now there is so much effort in South Africa in giving voice to people who didn’t have it,” said Mr. Geffen, who was born in South Africa and cast his first ballot in 1994, from Los Angeles. “So they are extremely politically correct. If we had left this in the hands of South Africans, they would have gone much more evenhandedly through to make sure that everyone was given a shot.”

He added, “that’s where as an outside curatorial voice, you have the opportunity to shape something.”

Much of what Carnegie Hall has shaped revolves around the voice, to which Mr. Geffen said South Africans are uniquely attached.

Two classical sopranos, Pretty Yende and Elza van den Heever, make their New York recital debuts. In addition to traditional Western fare, Ms. van den Heever will sing art songs by South African composers, in Afrikaans.

“When I left South Africa in 1998, I found myself really longing for South African songs, for my own language,” said Ms. van den Heever, recalling the joy of finding recordings of South African soprano Mimi Coertse. “She’s in a great way responsible for me wanting to keep these songs alive.”

Programming at other venues includes art by William Kentridge and a concert of current South African pop stars at the Apollo Theater.

The festival is unusual for bringing a broad swath of South African music onto one of the world’s most hallowed stages, and commendable for going beyond black and white and including the mixed-race choirs of the Cape Malay community, said Carol Muller, a University of Pennsylvania ethnomusicologist who was born in South Africa.

“But it is an unbelievably male perspective,” she said. “Where are all the South African women?”

Angélique Kidjo. Photograph by Redferns / Getty Images
Angélique Kidjo. Photograph by Redferns / Getty Images

Of the 18 concerts presented by Carnegie, only three are headlined by women: those of the two classical sopranos and that of the Grammy-winning singer Angélique Kidjo, who is from Benin. (A Carnegie spokesman said its festivals don’t strive to be encyclopedic.)

Ms. Kidjo’s concert pays tribute to the South African singer Miriam Makeba, a civil-rights activist and Ms. Kidjo’s personal mentor, credited with spreading African music internationally.

“Music is the most powerful tool to empower people,” said Ms. Kidjo. “How much political speech makes anybody happy? What gives people more political empowerment than music?”

“Ubuntu: Music and Arts of South Africa” runs Wednesday through Nov. 5 at Carnegie Hall and other venues:
212-247-7800
carnegiehall.org

Photograph by Brett Rubin

Oppikoppi Can’t Get Enough of Bra Hugh

Photograph by Alet Pretorius

The Times
Andile Ndlovu

Photograph by Alet Pretorius

When Hugh Masekela finished his Oppikoppi set to rapturous applause, a member of his crew wrapped a champion’s belt around his waist as if he was an undisputed heavyweight boxer.

He certainly played like a champ, with the agility and enthusiasm to match the young crowd he was playing for on the James Phillips stage on Saturday afternoon.

His hit single Thanayi, which closed the show, was a favourite and when he had taken the bow, the loud chants of “we want more” prompted him to return to the stage for a sing-a-long chorus.

But it was not just the young adults who loved him. One man walked away saying, “I feel good. My heart is connected again.”

Unfortunately local hip-hop star Cassper Nyovest’s 7pm performance on the Red Bull stage coincided with that of headliner Aloe Blacc, who was impressive with just keys, drums, sax and a guitarist backing him. In fact the American singer-songwriter’s only misstep was when, slap-bang in the middle of Northam in Limpopo, he told the crowd he was pleased to be playing in Johannesburg, except he was 250km from the City of Gold.

Songs off his latest album, Lift Your Spirit, proved most popular, particularly Soldier in the City, Wanna Be with You, Red Velvet Seat, and the smash hit Wake Me Up, which he co-wrote.

Blacc spoke extensively about spreading love and happiness.

This was the popular music festival’s 20-year anniversary, and the lineup struck a balance between mature and young – from Cat Power and Springbok Nude Girls to PHFAT, The Muffinz and Spoek Mathambo.

On each of the three nights, the Red Bull stage hosted many a drunk reveller – most of whom landed on their backs on the slippery surface.

Proclaiming Joy, in Concert, on His 75th Birthday

The New York Times
Jon Pareles

Photograph by Robert Caplin for The New York Times
Photograph by Robert Caplin
for The New York Times

When Hugh Masekela celebrated his 75th birthday on Friday night, with a Jazz at Lincoln Center concert at Rose Theater, he recalled pivotal advice from Harry Belafonte, who was in the audience. In 1960, Mr. Masekela left the brutal apartheid of his birthplace, South Africa, to become a trumpeter in New York. He recalled that Mr. Belafonte, an early supporter, urged him to “put some of that stuff from your home into what you do.”

That’s what Mr. Masekela has done through the decades, carrying the rhythms, languages, memories, social consciousness and spirit of South Africa worldwide. His 1968 hit “Grazing in the Grass” introduced many Americans to the beat of South African township jive, and during his years as an expatriate, Mr. Masekela became a forthright symbol of the antiapartheid movement. He returned to live in South Africa in 1990, the year Nelson Mandela was released from prison; he ended Friday’s expansive concert with “Mandela (Bring Him Back Home),” a positive-thinking protest song from 1987.

Friday’s concert was full of South African rhythms and songs that pushed earnestness toward joy. Mr. Masekela played fluegelhorn with luminous clarity and his distinctive, gently jabbing phrases. Just as often he sang: about struggle, improving the world and finding love. His hearty voice, undiminished at 75, could unleash rasps, growls and whoops, applying them for both fervor and comedy.

Mr. Masekela made his messages clear. When he sang in Zulu exhorting mankind to respect the environment and end wars, he followed up with a translation. “Stimela” (“Coal Train”) began with a detailed narrative in English about the grim trains that carry African laborers to backbreaking jobs in the mines; the music gathered speed, mimicking the motion of the train itself and ending with Mr. Masekela screeching in falsetto like brakes and train whistles.

Yet Mr. Masekela is far more an entertainer than a lecturer. He had jokes, singalongs and dance moves, along with those South African grooves that have optimism built in to their major chords. His upbeat version of Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” made the song sound far more relieved than vindictive. His backup quintet — four South Africans, including the versatile guitarist Cameron John Ward, and a percussionist from Sierra Leone — rolled through the songs with dynamics that sounded as natural as they were well rehearsed.

Mr. Masekela had lent crucial approval to Paul Simon’s 1986 “Graceland” album, which was denounced at the time by some antiapartheid activists as a breach of the cultural boycott of South Africa; he joined Mr. Simon’s “Graceland” tour in 1987. Mr. Simon returned the favor on Friday, singing two songs from “Graceland” as reshaped by Mr. Masekela and his band, with the rhythms shifted toward jazz and Mr. Masekela’s fluegelhorn answering Mr. Simon’s vocals. They finished “You Can Call Me Al” with a reprise of the train-whistle finale of “Stimela.”

Another guest also seized the spotlight: the prodigious South African singer Sibongile Khumalo, between her sets at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s club next door, Dizzy’s. Her improvisation encompassed percussive scat-singing, curvaceous long lines, sharp-toned hints of traditional singing, and airborne, operatic swoops. Virtuosic, sophisticated and crowd-pleasing, it reaffirmed the kind of South African jazz that Mr. Masekela has done so much to disseminate.

Hay Festival, review: ‘the George Formby of South Africa’

Photograph by Clara Molden

Hugh Masekela, now 75, shows he has lost none of his passion in a golden performance at the 2014 Hay Festival

The Telegraph
Martin Chilton

Photograph by Clara Molden

Hugh Masekela grew up with all kinds of American musical influences as a teenager, from Benny Goodman to Lionel Hampton. But he also had some British influences, too, including George Formby, a Lancashire ukulele player, singer and comic actor who made his start in musical halls. Formby might seem a surprising role model until you see Masekela perform. The South African jazz musician is a born showman.

Masekela sings with a wild abandon; he sent flugelhorn lines plunging and soaring; he delighted the audience at the Hay Festival with a string of anecdotes, jokes and social and political statements. It was very entertaining.

Masekela turned 75 last month and the story of how, aged 13, he was inspired to become a musician after seeing the film Young Man with a Horn, in which Kirk Douglas plays a jazz trumpeter based on Bix Beiderbecke, is pretty well known. But, more than six decades on, he has lost none of his passion for music.

His patter was sometimes schmaltzy – “thank you, you people of Hay-on-Wye, we are going to make you go on tour with us from now” – but it also came with statements that reminded you of the courageous battles this long-time anti-apartheid campaigner had fought. “Humans have behaved very badly towards one another,” he said. “Let’s cut out all this colour thing and all the bull—- that goes with it.”

Masekela, who first came to England in 1961, when he studied trumpet at the Guildhall School, went off on an enjoyable riff about actually being from Inverness (“my real name is Gregory Scotty McGgregor the third . . . junior”) but the patter did not overwhelm the inimitable mix of American bebop idioms, rhythm and blues and South African traditions in the music.
There was a smashing version of Masekela’s own song Stimela, about the trains that carry migrant workers from their homes. He evoked the sound of the train in a piercing scream but you could sense the implication of human tragedy underneath, and his gravely voice, so guttural at the lower range, is still special.

A mention, too, for the band, whose skill gives Masekela the foundation to be at such magisterial ease. Masekela must know what a talent he has in Cameron John Ward, whose stunning stylistic range and sweet guitar licks were such a feature of the show. It didn’t stop the grand old man teasing the youngster, though. Masekela told the crowd, when introducing Ward, that they must not tell anyone they had seen Ward playing: “because he is on probation from the criminal school for boys and the police and his mother are still looking for him”.

The great thing about the Hay Festival is its variety. As Masekela was delighting fans in the Tata Tent, a mere 30 second walk away, in the Telegraph Tent, The Super Furry Animals founder Gruff Rhys was delighting audiences with a show of incredible imagination – while wearing a furry wolf head.

There was an irresistible sunny optimism to Masekela’s concert, with the audience either dancing in their seats or in the aisles, but for all the showmanship, it was his unmistakable golden flugelhorn tone that was so memorable.

Hugh Masekela entertains in Siparia

Newsday
Richardson Dhalai

The musical collaboration between legendary South African trumpeter, composer and singer, Hugh Masekela, and the Siparia Deltones Steel Orchestra has been described as a melding of musical forms that is destined to propel this nation’s musical genre further onto the world’s musical stage.

That was the general consensus following a free concert titled “Siparia to Soweto” at the Ellis Knight panyard, Railway road, Siparia last Saturday night. A number of songs by national musical icons such as the Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) and the Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) were given a musical make over by the five-time Grammy award winner and the southern based steel orchestra at the event.

Masekela, 75, who was given a standing ovation, not only enthralled the large audience with his mastery of the trumpet but also provided humourous anecdotes about his life. He told them he had been “first turned on to Trinidad music by a Bajan girl” some 54 years ago who had asked him whether he had ever heard about the likes of Lord Kitchener and the Mighty Sparrow.

“That became the soundtrack of our romance,” he said, as the audience laughed heartily.

Masekela said he first heard the Siparia Deltones in 2005 when they performed at the San Fernando Jazz Festival and revealed that he was impressed by their performance.

“This group came on and they were playing some really jazzy music and after they finished, I said ‘wow’,” he admitted.

He said eight years later, while at the St Lucia Jazz festival, he was invited to participate in a musical collaboration with the steelband. He had journeyed to Trinidad after this and spent time learning the “songs of the country.”

Masekela also revealed that he had spent six weeks in the “jungle of Fyzabad” where, in addition to learning about the music and the Trinidadian language, he had also learned how to “burn red jeps” that had taken residence outside the music studio. He also learned various preparations to control mosquitoes and bats, the latter of which lived in the ceiling.

“I have fallen in love with the music,” he said, adding, “and now I can understand what everybody is saying.” After another enthralling musical set, Masekela, who spoke to the audience in a conversational tone, said he had prepared for the rehearsals by eating lots of Julie mangoes saying they made him cry.

“I cry whenever I eat Julie mango, it is such a joy,” he said.

Masekela also revealed that he had discovered Trinidad’s other musical forms, such as chutney music, saying he had initially thought that chutney was “something I eat in my curry”. He then introduced a song set that included the tabla (drums).

“In this project, I tried to get as many facets of Trinidad culture,” he said, before introducing singer, Alicia Jagessar, who sang a parang with a jazz/steelband flavour.

The album, which was co-arranged by Deltones’ Carlton “Zanda” Alexander features 12 songs comprising classics from Lord Kitchener, the Mighty Sparrow, Baron (Timothy Watkins), the Mighty Shadow (Winston Bailey) and Daisy Voisin together with two songs composed by Alexander. Masekela was born in Kwa-Guqa Township, Witbank, South Africa and began singing and playing piano as a child.

He was given the Order of Ikhamanga in the South African National Orders Ceremony in 2010 by South African President, Jacob Zuma.

The Siparia Deltones, which was founded in 1962, comprises of 73 members, mainly students and have participated in several competitions.