When it comes to music, Zim Ngqawana is no pushover. He’s an internationally acclaimed jazzman and a heavyweight in his homeland, with a sound that’s profound!
So I took it seriously when I received a hand-delivered package from him.
Inside was ‘Fine Art’, the independently released, debut CD of a young artist – a composer, multi-instrumentalist and poet from Cape Town. But the real prize lies in the piano playing of this meditating 21-year-old.
Preferring to listen before reading the sleeve notes, I sought the perfect space, and in the solitude, found something very fresh, but also familiar. I instantly heard Zim, only to later discover that the first track, ‘Zimology’ is actually a tribute to the teacher and mentor of this artist.
With the second track, he again honours his musical heritage –as it opens with an unmistakable Abdullah Ibrahim catch-phrase. Then, out of this rich foundation follows the third track, which erupts with the blossoming sound of Shepherd.
Succulent and subtle, strong and understated, his touch is sometimes as light as angel wings, or as solid and earthed as the Mother City’s mountain – with precision he caresses the keys and speaks piano!
Savouring each of the tracks, it was the traditional “Die Maan Skyn So Helder” that took me to heaven. Here he sings, appropriating an ancient melody and affirming the African in the Afrikaans language.
This is followed by ‘Love Poem’, another favourite, whereby he recites a poem instrumentally – the words of which can be found on his website.
He deconstructs Western jazz forms like bebop and swing, integrating them effortlessly with the Cape jazz idiom, Goema, and an essentially modern African sensibility.
Explaining the title of the Album, Shepherd says:
“My concept is summed up in this poem of mine:
fineART is the soil in which the seed of creativity manifests itself
this is music from home
why wouldn’t it be?
why shouldn’t it be?”