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South African Jazz Artist Nduduzo Makhathini Releases Highly-Anticipated Blue Note Records Debut

Listen to South African jazz artist Nduduzo Makhathini's new album 'Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds.'

South African pianist, composer, and healer Nduduzo Makhathini has released his Blue Note Records debut Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds. The 11-track album is characterized by Makhathini's trademark piano keys, hissing percussions that collide with expressive vocals. As is always the case with Makhathini's work, spirituality is a huge part of the album deals with humans' connection to the ancestors and the spiritual realm.


"I create this idea of a letter as a metaphor that there are constant letters that are sent to and from the ancestry dimensions, and we could engage those letters as some forms of technology," said the musician during a press junket at the Universal Music Group Joburg headquarter two months before the release of the album. "So that's more at a philosophical level. At a musical level, the album is really covered in quite a lot of ground in terms of the musics that exists within my culture. I was brought up in a semi-rural space. I used to herd cattle. You get bored while watching the cattle, and you start whistling. And so most of this music also tries to look at childhood and how that develops a kind of lens at which we understand life anyway, and how, in embracing childhood, we're able to understand ourselves better."

The album features the American alto saxophonist Logan Richardson with a South African band including tenor saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane, trumpeter Ndabo Zulu, bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell Le Pere, drummer Ayanda Sikade, percussionist Gontse Makhene, and vocals by Msaki as well as Nduduzo's wife Omagugu Makhathini, and background vocals by their children Nailah, Thingo, and Moyo.

Makhathini who, in the last six years, has released eight albums under his label Gundu Entertainment, which he co-founded with his wife Omagugu. Ikhambi, his SAMA-winning 2018 album was released under Universal.

Through the label, Makhathini got to sign with the iconic jazz label Blue Note Records through which he released debut Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds.

Stream the album below on Apple Music and Spotify. Revisit our interview with Nduduzo Makhathini here.



Interview

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

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