May 19, 2024

Moses KhumaloAn Interview With
Moses Khumalo
by Iain Harris

Moses is the brilliant young sax player whose flair and voice made him a fixture in the late Moses Molelekwa’s band. I first met Moses when he was fifteen. The Institute for the Advancement of Journalism was hosting an innovative radio documentary course, and had invited Finnish Radio’s Harry Huhtamaki to lead it. It was a course essentially on making audio films, and a whole bunch of musicians had been invited to work with a team of directors and technicians to score what would be a one hour documentary. Saxophonist McCoy Mrubatha (Sheer Sound artist with two albums) was in the mix, so was bassist Concord Nkabinde (Family Factory and regular session muso with, amongst others, Paul Hanmer and Ernie Smith). Moses was still at school and studying music at FUBA.

Already at fifteen he had a sound that perked the ears of McCoy, at that point a quickly rising star on the scene. It’s a massive statement on his skill that as a very young and completely unknown professional on the competitive scene Moses was invited to play in Moses Molelewa’s band, one that would become one of the most popular, progressive and brilliantly innovative groups in the country.

Since the death of Moses Molelekwa, Moses has quickly forged an innovative identity as an artist in his own right, lighting the Joburg scene with his energy and commitment to expression and exploration. He’s due to record an album with Sheer Sound next year. Look out for all the information and updates here on afribeat. And see below for a recent interview with Moses.

An interview with Moses Khumalo, Melville, September 2001

Growing up…

“I was born in Meadowlands. My family is a singing family. We sang church songs. When I was 8 I started checking the piano, but there were too many people playing piano so I switched to saxophone.”

Making a break…

“I heard a lot of jazz. I joined the ‘Soweto Jazz orchestra’, which toured locally and internationally and we even did a gig in West Africa. But when that disbanded I started jamming at a club next door to our school. Whilst I was at school I met Moses (Molelekwa) at Kippies and we jammed Mannenberg. He phoned me that week for a gig and I started playing with him regularly.”

Moses Molelekwa…

“Moses believed in every type of music. All his songs were different. They were never the same. We have to be versatile. I am still questioning about his death. He was a very spiritual person. He had a free and gentle spirit. I am really crying for his beautiful soul. I spend some sad times and ask why, what went wrong? It is still a shock to me, I really wish I was there. He was at the peak of his life. He had just opened up a company for the artists.”

The difficulties of the industry…

“It is frustrating in this industry. Promoters can really sadden your heart. Critics can really sadden your heart. People don’t appreciate what the next person is doing. We are not together. No proper unions. We need to better the whole industry. People don’t get happy in the community when you succeed. They look at you as the person you are not. And the media only concedes a person once they are dead. If someone has a project we should all push it. There are so many musos out there who don’t have jobs. The jam sessions are there for them. It is about the community, we are developing something for the community. When I turn on the radio could I hear at least 50% of our own music?”

Jazz for today?…

“I am seeing development in our music to a certain style that can accommodate youth. It’s getting to a point where everyone is enjoying jazz. I just see people trying to express themselves, to explain what they feel. Jazz is food for life it sells forever. We are still listening to stuff that was composed 100 years ago. Kwaito is gone in one month. This is something that must change. People should start respecting and realising the importance of the music. Our history is very important. I try and check out the history of our people.”

A new era, with or without distraction?…

“I really practice a lot, music is my career. I refrain from those things and spend time on the music. And it is for me to pass that information onto the youngsters. And I must make them feel important. We have to care and be one and try and better this industry. Assist each other, like in the olden days. It is about time for us as young artists to change the whole industry. Building the persons spirit – not destroying it by criticising. Respect.”
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