Nduduzo Makhathini

A pianist and pivot in the contemporary South African jazz scene, a spiritual and graceful human being. His already extensive discography had been lauded in his country and the continent. The rest of the world is next.

After debuting on Blue Note Records in 2020, the whole world got to know this beautiful spirit, while in the same year his Fender Rhodes graced the lp of Shabaka and The Ancestors. Just two years later, the legendary jazz label gave the pianist the honor to launch a brand new imprint: Blue Note Africa. He did so in unparalleled fashion…

Makhathini approaches music not only as a scholar, but as a deep thinker and active listener. He feels and communicates with and through his compositions. He explores African traditions, cultures and history, specifically drawing on his Zulu background. His latest album, In The Spirit Of Ntu, is a modern day critique on South Africa through the lens of old African spirituality – ‘ntu’ being the “power of life” and part of a larger cosmology which contain ancestors, dreams, time and space. This spirituality seeps through every note in Makhathini’s music.

His music burns, as did South Africa during terrible riots and acts of violence in 2021. Where Ibrahim Abdullah’s ‘Mannenberg’ became the soundtrack to the Soweto uprising and the violence during Apartheid, Makhathini wants to be more. He wants to become the fire that is burning throughout his country. He wants to be the people.

Nduduzo Makhathini’s insight on jazz is riveting. Check this conversation piece to learn more about this inspiring man.

On a Ntu note: remember Gary Bartz’ NTU Troop? Just as political, just as dope. Go dig!


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