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.