Three KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) jazz legends will be celebrated this Friday 10 December at Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre, KwaMashu, North of Durban starting at 14h00.  These are Bhekisigcino Luthuli, Khulekani Bhekuyise Maphumulo and Sithembiso Ntuli.  Atlas Duma from Sagiya Foundation is the curator of this event which has been held since 2016.  This much anticipated concert will feature musicians that are mastering their own sounds in Jazz, Afro Jazz and Afro Soul Mthobisi Mthalane, Bongani Nkwanyana, Royalson, Nicky Shange and Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble.

Luthuli, Maphumulo and Ntuli will be showcasing their music compositions in collaboration with the iconic ensemble Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble as members of this band that recorded their signature album “Ezintabeni”.  The event is supported by the KZN Department of Arts and Culture.  It will be streamed on 19 and 26 December.  In 2019, Sagiya Foundation in collaboration with The Bat Centre, Rainbow Jazz Restaurant and The Playhouse Company honoured Moses Sefatsa, Adolph Kunene and Jerry Kunene for their contribution and preservation of KZN Township Jazz.

Trumpeter Bhekisigcino Luthuli

Trumpeter Bhekisigcino Luthuli is a student of the late George Lee, a versatile musician who has played with Theo Bophela and is a music teacher.  His career has seen him participating in Maloke Jazz Workshop in Alexandra Township, John Davis Jazz Workshop and Bheki Khoza Jazz Wokshop.  He got his first trumpet lessons and instrument from Michael Blackburn a brass instrument technician.  He further received tutorials from Jerry Kunene’s son Sfiso who is a trumpet.  Luthuli’s first band was called Rise which comprised of Sthembiso Ntuli, Jabu Zwane, Aaron Nzama, Bheki Khoza, Peter Martin and Zithulele Dlamini.

He had several stints with musicians Hilton Schilder, Mandla Zikalala, Nhlanhla Magagula, Mcedisi “Black” Kupi, Nkanyezi Cele, Sazi Dlamini, Bhako Xaba, Mlungisi Gegana, Khaya Dlamini, Mazwakhe Gumede, Barney Bophela, Mzamo Zungu and Octavia Rachabane (daughter of the late Barney Rachabane).  Luthuli also played with Nqwelo Africa led by Theo Bophela (father of Barney Bophela).  Members of Nqwelo Africa were drummer Mbhani Khumalo, guitarist Jacob Philander, bassist KB Maphumulo, saxophonist Moses Sefatsa, vocalist Nonhlanhla “Lady D” Dlomo and Atlas Duma who joined the group as a drummer at a later stage.

Bassist Khulekani Bhekuyise Maphumulo, popularly knows as KB Maphumulo, worked with the late Theo Bophela, Phelelani Mnomiya and many local jazz artists.  In 1993 Maphumulo joined Ukusa Arts Programme as a student, which was operating at UKZN where he started improving his keyboard playing techniques.  In 2002 he started teaching at the very same Ukusa Arts Programme.  In the same year he formed his own band called KB Menu which was initially a guitar only group.  Later the group became a quintet made up of drummer Atlas Duma, pianist Mthethwa, vocalist Sibongile Mthethwa and himself on bass.

Saxophonist Sithembiso Ntuli

Saxophonist Sithembiso Ntuli is a product of University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).  He has played and recorded with numerous acts including Sipho Gumede, Madala Kunene, The African Jazz Pioneers, UKZN Jazz, Skokian just to mention but a few.  The well-travelled Ntuli is very much at home playing Marabi Jazz.  His first lesson in saxophone began in 1978 where he was taught by Joseph Cele who was impressed about how quickly he mastered the instrument.  Cele introduced him to Rhythm Aces where he played tenor saxophone.  This is where he encountered Moses Sefatsa, Mike Mvelase and many other artists.

After playing for small combo from Chesterville, he gained entrance to the UKZN where he studied jazz under the directorship of Darius Brubeck.  He became a member of Natal University Jazz Connection which comprised ofDarius Brubeck on piano, Lulu Gontsana on drums, Sazi Dlamini on guitar, Feya Faku on trumpet and flugelhorn, Mark Killian on keyboards, Lex Futshane on bass and himself on tenor saxophone.  This ensemble travelled extensively touring America and Europe playing at festivals before recording an album titled “African Tributes”.  Later he joined the African Jazz Pioneers and The Peace Train Project.

Bassist Bongani Nkwanyana has performed with many well-known and established South African musicians including Busi Mhlongo, Wendy Mseleku, Tu Nokwe, Mercy Phakela, Ali Katt, Mbongeni Ngema and more.  His musical career has seen him performing in countries such as Germany, Eswatini, Botswana, Senegal, Namibia and many others.  He met the late Sipho Gumede who was so impressed and asked him to join him as his backing bassist.  Nkwanyana played with Gumede until the latter passed on in 2004.  He featured prominently on the hit albums his mentor released under Sheer Sound.

Bassist KB Maphumulo

Pianist, composer, arranger and musical director Mthobisi Mthalane has a Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music from UKZN which he obtained in 2007.  In 2018 he obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of South Africa (UNISA).  Mthalane has performed at Sagiya International Jazz Day Celebration, Durban Jazz Festival, Christmas Celebration Concert, Tribute Jazz Concert at The Playhouse Company, Jazz Sundowners at The Playhouse Company and Ayishe World Music Festival.  He was invited to play piano welcoming guests at the Consulate General of USA.

Royalson, whose real name is Andile Zindela, was a Youth Ambassador of Ethekwini Municipality Youth Office in 2019/2020.  He acquired Certificates of Music Tuition from The Bat Centre and KUMISA.  In 2018 he was a nominee for Live Your Dream Awards.  His singles “Ucabhayiyane”, “KWIHI” featuring Gabriel Youngstar, “Uzongithola” with Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble were streamed in radio stations SAFM, Ukhozi FM, Vuma FM, Gagasi FM, and all KZN community radio stations.  Royalson has performed at Durban Jazz Festival with his band, Ugu Jazz Festival with UJE, Horn Hang Up Concert with UJE, Playhouse Drama Theatre, The Bat Centre, and Rainbow Restaurant.  He is currently promoting his single “Undabazabantu”music video on TV channels and YouTube.

Vocalist and composer Nicky Shange moved from Johannesburg to Durban in 2015 to embark on a solo career.  She has made several live performances in and around Durban, much to the delight of audiences.  Her band consists of prominent and well travelled musicians most notably Bernard Mndaweni who is her musical director and bassist.  Nicky has been writing songs since 1993 and refuses to be boxed into a specific genre because of her versatility.  Her music consists of African rhythms, soulful sounds, and jazz.  In 2016, Nicky was the lead singer in a project called Forest Jam Orchestra.  The project consisted of musicians from Switzerland, Mozambique and South Africa.  The group performed live at Kaya FM abs toured South Africa and neighbouring countries.

KZN Jazz Legends Concert Promo

Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble is a musical outfit from Durban, formed out of musical influences of ‘Umkhumbane Settlement’, currently known as Cato Manor, west of Durban.  Senior members of the band learned their trade in Umkhumbane and plied their trade in Durban YMCA and ‘eMathilamini’ (Trams Durban Bus Depot), which were the only musical venues available to them during the fifties.  The band is set up on Marabi music style with strong big band influence.  Their repertoire is dominated by music of the late 50’s mixed with big band selection and UJE members’ compositions.  UJE has decided to rescue this music style before it fades away.  UJE fans also enjoy original compositions by various musicians of UJE.  The music style of UJE also brings you back to the vibes of Sofia Town and District Six.

UJE participated at the jazz stage of ESSENCE Durban Festival 2016 at the Playhouse Opera Theatre.  They were also part of the Dim-Dep World Environment Celebration Programme at the Playhouse Theatre in the same year.  They often participate at Hazelmere Dam Jazz Festivals, Ugu Jazz Festivals, Umlazi Jazz Festivals, Durban July Handicap.  Their debut album titled “Ezintabeni” which was officially launched at Rainbow Restaurant and Jazz Clubreceived a nomination for South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) in 2017.  All UJE members received certificates of recognition from UKZN Centre for Jazz and Popular Music for their contribution to the development of African Jazz Sound.

Tickets to the concert cost R200.  To make a booking, please call +27 67 738 5301.  The concert will be streamed on 19 and 26 December.  Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre (where the concert is taking place) is at 25 Giya Road, KwaMashu.  Like and follow Sagiya Foundation on Facebook.  Follow them on Instagram @sagiyafoundation and  visit their website