All that Zimbabwean Jazz

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Title: Sunrise
Artist: Tanga wekwaSando

Tanga wekwaSando’s latest album, Sunrise confirms his status as the master of township jazz music.

It is a revival of township jazz of the old school and it carries Tanga’s unique signature sound.

The album is refreshingly cool, relaxed and jazzy. This work deserves a lot of respect; it is a collector’s item and must-have in personal libraries of all township jazz music lovers.

Author and township music critic Joyce Jenje Makwenda aptly summed up his style: “Tanga’s way of playing with words, mixing township slang, deep Shona and sometimes English, brings out a uniqueness which results in a serious subject matter being delivered in a lighter and sometimes comical, non-patronising way, without diminishing the impact of the message.”

Typical of the trailblazing pioneers that came before him, Tanga’s home-grown sound is a fusion of traditional African music styles like jiti, marabi and kwela with varied Western influences that include jazz, soul, blues and rock.

He creates a unique beat that he then blends with some expertly-penned lyrics to entertain and communicate certain messages to society.

Sunrise is a six-track album and Tanga explores themes of hypocrisy, emotional and physical abuse of women and children, money and love as well as patriotism.

The songs on the album are superbly structured with a great vocal style and feature a variety of instruments including acoustic guitar, piano, trombone and solid bass.

The album carries Mwoyo Chenai? a refreshingly cool piece that features a sweet acoustic guitar sound, great vocal style with skating and a well-timed trumpet.

Parudo nepamari is sung in the style of Louis Armstrong and it features forceful vocals and skating along with cool piano.

Zimbabwe is a beautiful rendition of the great classic from the 50s and Toseka is an up-tempo piece in the style called simanjemanje of the 70s.

Hausi Mwari Wake is a laid-back track with great acoustic guitar and polished vocals of old. It is a beautifully sung piece that would please the true connoisseurs of township jazz.

Mosi-oa-Tunya is a danceable tune that encourages the listener to honour Zimbabwean spiritual monuments by honouring them with indigenous names.

Tanga is an accomplished musician who has won a National Arts Merit Award in the best jazz artist category for the album Shungu in 2003 and was nominated for the prestigious All-Africa Kora Awards in the Best Artiste from Southern Africa in 2005.

He has recorded several hits including Mahobho, Wake, Nyenyedzi, Bhuhera, Stokononzi, Zuze naZuze, Vakomana vekwedu and Kwenya Kwenya.

He was born Tanga Ernest Kambadzo Sando in 1954 in Harare and he grew up in Highfield. He started performing professionally at age 11 and his musical contemporaries include Joni Papas, Jethro Shasha, Chris Chabuka, Elisha Josamu, the melodic jazz guitarist Louis Mhlanga and Bothwell Nyamhondera.