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All that jazz: Mono Mkundu at 40

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On his latest self-titled album, Mono Mukundu @ 40, the talented producer, singer and guitarist presents a unique and compelling work of art. Though it may not strictly be classified as jazz, it definitely has an unmistakable jazzy feel to it.

The songs on Mono Mukundu @ 40 – produced by Clive “Mono” Mukundu and recorded at his Monolio Studios – are laid-back and augur well for easy listening. Multi-talented Mono absorbs many influences, musical traditions and trends.

He then expertly blends these using excellent musical arrangements to create a jazzy, soulful feel.

True to his deep Christian faith, Mono explores gospel themes, while commenting on some burning social issues in our society today.

The gospel-themed track Anosimudza Marombe (He uplifts tramps) is uptempo and jazzy, tastefully fused with a hint of mbira and Mono’s trademark electric guitar grafted on top.

On Mari Yangu (My Money) he combines excellent musical arrangements with a strong social message. The lead guitar and keyboard arrangement is remarkable while the bass is laid on solidly, thick and steady.

The song is about how black people in Zimbabwe do not want to pay for services rendered by fellow blacks, a tendency that the musician condemns.

Makorokoto (Congratulations) is a gospel song laid on a slow, jazzy, rhumba track with excellent guitar and harmonies.

In the song, which evinces his personal faith, he congratulates a person for being born again in Christ.
Mono ponders on the difficulties of finding a good and faithful wife today in the tune Wife Material.

The track features the superb vocal talents of Mathias Muzaza of Mokoomba. The music is wonderful and it combines a guitar style that is reminiscent of Jonah Sithole, a solid brass and some great harmonies.

Makandiona (You Found Me) has a gospel theme and veteran jazz musician Philip Svosve contributed the saxophone on this track. The track has an uplifting guitar solo in the true tradition of the jazz masters.

Other tunes on the album include Mukana (Chance) which is upbeat, Chipo Chevana (A Gift for the Children), which follows the African music tradition of call and refrain and Kugarira Maoko featuring Andy Brown.

Mukundu is master of the various African and Western guitar styles and has released six albums to date. His albums include Anosimudza Marombe (2002), Jesu Neni (2006), Poor and Famous (2007), Super Ngezha (2009) and Zivai Zvekuchema.

The multi-talented Mono is probably one of Zimbabwe’s most recorded session guitarists.

He is currently featured on more than 400 albums by Zimbabwean and regional artists, including Oliver Mtukudzi, Celebration Choir, Mahendere Brothers, Lufuno Dagada (South Africa) and Mau Mwale of Zambia.

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