Tumi Mogorosi presents Group Theory

The South African jazz scene is alive and kicking in doors all over the world. Their powerful rhythms and metaphysical approach seem more new and urgent as ever before. A full blown spiritual jazz renaissance is upon us.

Drummer Tumi Mogorosi dares to take the next step in this South African movement. You might have seen him as part of Shabaka and the Ancestors. On his latest project, he leads a nine-headed choir: Tumi Mogorosi presents Group Theory.

Hearing the heavily humming, almost heavenly voices of the choir, throws us back to another drummer in another time. A time in which jazz’ reforms were just about as radical and rabid as in the now. After flirting with a fiery form of singing by jazz singer and civil rights activist Abbey Lincoln on We Insist! and Percussion Bitter Sweet (1961), the illustrious drummer Max Roach went all the way in 1962 on his urgently titled album It’s Time.

It must have been one of, if not the first times that a full choir is used to accompany a jazz ensemble. The result is like a soundtrack to you ascending the stairs to the heavens above – but you’re actually still not sure if it’s going to be a heaven where you end up… It’s loud, evocative, almost spooky. Exactly how Roach wanted it to be. It’s urgent. Because it’s time! Time for change!

The same goes for Tumi Mogorosi’s Group Theory. The often wordless voices might even sound spookier than Roach’s did back then. Choirs in jazz are something wonderfully cinematic. As if you hear sirens singing at sea, luring you into the dark.

So, do you dare to come and see what’s hiding in the great unknown? And more importantly, do you dare to go home afterwards?