South africa – Iridium Jazz http://iridiumjazz.com/ Tue, 23 Nov 2021 05:56:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://iridiumjazz.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/default1-1.png South africa – Iridium Jazz http://iridiumjazz.com/ 32 32 The little giant from South Africa who took an epic jazz journey https://iridiumjazz.com/the-little-giant-from-south-africa-who-took-an-epic-jazz-journey/ Tue, 23 Nov 2021 05:56:26 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/the-little-giant-from-south-africa-who-took-an-epic-jazz-journey/ While preparing for a jazz concert on November 13, 2021, I learned of the passing of my South African soul music brother and childhood idol, Barney Rachabane. He was 75 years old. The words of American alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy crossed my mind at that moment: When you hear music, once it’s over, it’s gone, […]]]>

While preparing for a jazz concert on November 13, 2021, I learned of the passing of my South African soul music brother and childhood idol, Barney Rachabane. He was 75 years old. The words of American alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy crossed my mind at that moment:

When you hear music, once it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You will never be able to capture it again.

The words echo my feelings about Barney – a little giant, whose unique music and sound I learned in my youth, and who has become essential in my later years. Reflecting now, after his passing, I think musician Kevin Davidson’s academic article, which reviews Barney’s stylistic traits, appropriately captures his contribution to the South African musical landscape. He views the deceased artist as a master at capturing the emotions of the listener, helping to shape a definitive African sound.

In this tribute, I deliberately avoid categorizing Barney’s music into a genre. After all, when Chris Walton and I asked him about his musical composition for our book Unsung, he replied:

I’m pretty versatile, I could play anything. I also played in The Buddy Holly Story; it was a rock and roll musical. I could play mbaqanga, and I did a lot of sessions with all kinds of music: classics, soundtracks, whatever. I played the transverse flute, the soprano and alto saxophone, the tenor saxophone. So I work a lot in different areas of music.

Now that he’s passed away, the tributes will continue. Scholars will delve into the details of his life story and his life’s work. They will establish the exact dates of the recordings, correspondence, performances and interviews. They will map associates, influences and antipathies. Final collections, bootlegs and archive fragments will be published.

Detail of the cover of the Sweet Matara album, 1976.
Black music

Paradoxically, it is at this point that Barney will be lost in the story – the real story in which he died and lived. It will be part of the obligatory jazz experience and the world of respectful quotes, lineages and footnotes. His music might, with luck, not suffer the same fate.

Penny whistle on saxophone

The township of Alexandra in Johannesburg was one of the first sites of black resistance to white minority rule and apartheid in South Africa. It was also an important cultural center. It was here that Barney was born in 1946 into a working-class and music-loving family. He admired the great jazz musicians of the time, such as saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, and from an early age he started playing in a street orchestra.

Barney worked actively against apartheid but made the decision to star in Paul Simon’s controversial Graceland project, which brought him a lot of money and made him famous. He would play with the greatest and tour the world.

The romance of street musicians in a legally separated South Africa resonates with the stories of the many street musicians of all genres around the world who are harassed daily by authorities – only to ingeniously return to a better disguised corner of the world. public domain .

An old man in a suit and tie blows a saxophone on stage, bright lights behind him.
A former Rachabane.
© Courtesy of Rafs Mayet

The encounter with the saxophone was, according to Barney, a key to directly unlocking the many recordings of American jazz, then part of the American cultural exercise of soft power over all nations threatened with Soviet ideological influence. Barney sees it as his vocation to imitate this music in a long self-taught adventure, while finding ways to adapt it to what he calls “our music”. He said to Walton and I:

I put these American phrases above our mbaqanga. I still do it now, I have fun doing this… We have an African identity, but the American influence has been too strong… You hear African music, you hear American solos on top, all the time, if you like it or not. It’s just natural, you know. This influence has been there for years.

The long experience

Barney’s long experience took him on a cosmopolitan journey, an epic journey that included a closeness to working with, but never absorption into, the various experiences that then attempted to distill new music suited to the South African experience. from the eclectic sources of South Africa the post-1959 jazz boom (which began with the revolutionary musical King Kong) and the Broadway musical. Barney’s discernment is evident in the many recordings he did not make during this time, as much as in the ones he did.

Rachabane jamming in a Johannesburg jazz club.

His project has often covered the clichés of episodes of Paul Simon. But Barney’s eclecticism, unlike that of Simon, was a delicate experience to explore the transition from street performance to the special condition of recorded jazz. Barney tried to avoid anything that aspires to a mainstream without falling into idiosyncrasy. In this respect, his musical project most resembles that of the composer and pianist Igor Stravinsky, whose starting point was also imitative collage but whose tenacity forced him to find more and more minute degrees of freedom in the detail.

A relentless rebellion

In this time of mourning and praise, we should pay homage to Barney Rachabane in a way he would expect, paying an unprecedented level of attention to the music he loved and lived for, without prejudices of academic dogmas and jazz, leaving the circumstances of his music to the antique dealers.



Read more: Remembering Zim Ngqawana 10 years later, a singular force in South African music


It was under these circumstances, then and now, that his music was his constant, silent, subversive and relentless rebellion against conformism and apartheid, and an expression of his creative African spirit. The last words belong to him:

If you play the whistle (you can) just take the saxophone and play it. I can play a song immediately… I felt the pain during apartheid but I didn’t want to run away from it. I wasn’t a threat either way, although I was also very militant, you know. I loved being here.


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For Barney Rachabane, jazz was a way of life: New Frame https://iridiumjazz.com/for-barney-rachabane-jazz-was-a-way-of-life-new-frame/ Thu, 18 Nov 2021 05:50:40 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/for-barney-rachabane-jazz-was-a-way-of-life-new-frame/ When the South African media finally notices the passing of saxophone hero Barney Rachabane on November 13 – at the time of writing, 36 hours later, only one newspaper did – they will undoubtedly highlight his participation in 1987. to Paul Simon Graceland project. For Rachabane, and many other South African musicians who participated in […]]]>

When the South African media finally notices the passing of saxophone hero Barney Rachabane on November 13 – at the time of writing, 36 hours later, only one newspaper did – they will undoubtedly highlight his participation in 1987. to Paul Simon Graceland project.

For Rachabane, and many other South African musicians who participated in the project, it was Graceland who have brought their sound to stages, audiences and international collaborations; it was an important professional opportunity.

But it is a big mistake to present this opportunity as what “made” them. Simon was brought to these artists by savvy local producers as they were already stars on South African stages. They were stars because they came from the people and created music that spoke to the people and to the people.

This was certainly the case with Rachabane, who was part of the generation that shaped the sound of modern South African jazz.

August 18, 2014: Barney Rachabane at his home in Soweto, Johannesburg. (Photograph by Madelene Cronjé)

Rachabane was born in Alexandra Township on March 2, 1946. His father was a bus driver and also played the piano. Alex, the first township to settle on the outskirts of Johannesburg, was declared freehold in 1912 and famous for its political activism and complete lack of street lighting, earning it the title “Dark City” . It was also home to notable senior jazzmen including Zacks Nkosi and Ntemi Piliso.

In the early 1950s, Rachabane was just one of dozens of little Alex boys who admired these conductors from afar, climbed on top of each other to watch their performances through the windows of the community hall and ended up having the courage to offer to carry their instruments – for pennies, or just for the honor of walking alongside them or sneaking into the show.

At the age of seven, Rachabane and two of his peers acquired penny whistles and became The Little Bunnies, a street band around the corner, whistling, as the late National Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile titled an essay, “For pennies”. The nickname “Bunny” has long followed Rachabane.

“Whatever your turn of mind,” writes Kgositsile, “the lyricism and anguished sometimes bluesy happiness of this seemingly casual music touches your sensibility… sometimes robust, sometimes twirling, always brutally moving and demanding, [it] has all the ingredients of township life.

Join life

By the time Rachabane was a teenager, Nkosi and Piliso both noticed his enthusiasm and talent and began to invite him, he recalls, to perform “at weddings. I was still in school so I could only play on weekends… In the townships, music was life… the only way to play was to join the old people and play alongside them to find out more.

Rachabane’s heroes were American players on LPs and national icons such as Nkosi and Kippie Moeketsi, “the closest thing to anything I listened to on record.” I always thought I wanted to be like this man… In the late 1950s, at Selborne Hall, I would be in all these [Township Jazz] shows playing the whistle and that’s where I listened to the wonderful play of Kippie behind the curtain.

Around 2003: Barney Rachabane at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, with Bongani Sokhela on double bass. (Photograph by Rafs Mayet)

Rachabane was nonchalant about his own transition from whistle to alto sax and clarinet. “It was very easy; you don’t need anyone to show you. Just grab it and play it, ”he told music specialist Chats Devroop.

But while it was true that several other penny whistle childhood stars, including “Little Lemmy” Mabaso, made the same transition, not all of them were, a few years later, hanging out with the jazz elite. modernists from Dorkay House in Johannesburg, experimenting with fast and risky local bebop sounds.

Photographs from this period show a still surprisingly young Rachabane playing with his peers and elders, the cream of the crop: trumpeter Dennis Mpale, pianist Tete Mbambisa and more. By 1964, at just 18, he was considered accomplished enough to replace his hero Moeketsi in drummer Early Mabuza’s quartet at the Castle Lager Jazz Festival.

Circa 1964: From left to right, Dennis Mpale, Barney Rachabane and Ronnie Beer at the Thibault Square Recording Studio in Cape Town. (Photograph by Ian Bruce Huntley)

He went on to work with the Big Five of Mabuza, and with several groups led by Tete Mbambisa, including the Big Sound and the small band the Jazz Disciples in Cape Town, which he said he found a little more “laid back” town. than Johannesburg. in terms of the application of apartheid.

Rachabane featured in some of the landmark recordings of the late 1960s and 1970s, creating both intense modern jazz like that of the Soul Giants. I remember Nick and music that was more oriented towards popular trends. In his own group, Roots, with Mpale, Jabu, the son of Zacks Nkosi and Sipho Gumede, he explores jazz fusion. He worked on the early Beaters, Harari, recorded bump jive and even mabone (sax jive) with the Sound Proofs.

He developed a distinctive saxophone voice and his own stage image, straight out of the street fashion of the Canton of Joburg – often a plaid shirt and almost always a poor boy’s cap. From a player of not much over five feet tall, the sound of the sax was surprisingly large, round and warm, characterized by a reed cry that, when heard, remained in the auditory memory forever.

A homebody on tour

Life was tough in the late 1970s and 1980s for musicians. Censorship, small audiences and onstage segregation, curfews, violence and states of emergency forced players to travel and take on whatever meager work they could find in any genre, or stay at home, make up and starve. “The guys couldn’t really make the money,” Reed said. He has never dissociated himself from the struggle against oppression, participating in the 1982 Medu Festival of Culture and Resistance in Botswana.

But he loved his home and his family. “I felt the pain during apartheid,” he told Devroop, “but I didn’t want to run away from it. He described the time as a time when he was “very militant” but “I did not go abroad. I just stayed here and accepted the whip… I stayed here at home and played and practiced. Of those who endured exile, he said: “I think they were very brave to do it. ”

Rachabane recorded two more albums as a leader, blow barney blow in 1985 and Barney’s path in 1989. Between Graceland, a project with which he stayed for 20 years.

Time on the road with Hugh Masekela following Botswana Techno-Bush the recording gave him the opportunity to travel and interact with his previously missed American jazz peers. Simon hailed him as “one of the most moving saxophonists in the world; one of the best I’ve ever played with. Rachabane remembers a conversation with American reed Michael Brecker: “[He] used to say ‘this is unique, man’. He never hears anyone in the world playing like we play. Even if you try to play American tunes… you still have our flavor. We were born with… it’s just different.

Around 1964: Barney Rachabane at the Thibault Square studio. (Photograph by Ian Bruce Huntley)

The tour was a mixed blessing. Rachabane has told numerous reporters that he is still regularly homesick and can’t wait to be back. And he didn’t idealize New York: “A very difficult place to live. I could never have imagined jostling myself in this place. Arrrgh! Very hard… You will see a guy sleeping in the park and he has his saxophone – the sweepers are jazz players – and people are cold… ”

International opportunities continued, including a partnership in 1990 with pianist Darius Brubeck and bassist Victor Ntoni at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with Afro-Cool Concept. He displayed a different musical character in an intense and contemplative relationship with trumpeter Bruce Cassidy in Conversations. More recently, he had the opportunity to reunite with Mbambisa when the pianist went on a review tour of his Big Sound concept including musicians from the UK. He will also appear as a guest on South African stages, performing as well, if not better, than ever before and ultimately receiving some recognition for the role he played in creating that distinctive jazz sound at home and in the world.

At the end of 2020, the Fredericksburg label remastered Roots for reissue. The horns, relegated to the background on some tracks of the original, now sounded loud and clear. Rachabane was thrilled that the album was back in circulation, but As-Shams record archivist Calum MacNaughton said he was more interested in talking about “his home and his family.”

Undated: Barney Rachabane in full flow. (Photograph by Siphiwe Mhlambi)

The saxophonist had worked hard to keep this together over the years, and that was his pride and joy: three daughters (the youngest, Octavia, is a jazz singer) and a son, Leonard, also a saxophonist, who has passed away. tragically young. . Today, grandson Oscar continues the saxophone tradition. Rachabane had met his wife Elizabeth Nini when he was 14 and they had been together for 60 years. He told Devroop: “I still love him so much.” Elizabeth died on July 30. Eyesight problems and his devastating grief over this loss have contributed to his growing fragility this year.

In his personality, Rachabane was very different from the fiery Moeketsi whom he had admired so much at the time. He just quietly continued his musical work, with the fire confined to his sound, and was prosaic about his accomplishments. But he had regrets. He told me when I interviewed him that “history is not written anywhere. There have been albums and now you don’t even know what they were. The history of our jazz has been thrown away… ”

That this was not the case in his own life, quite remarkable. Hamba kahle.

January 20, 2021: A recent photograph of Barney Rachabane at the time of his album Roots has been relaunched. (Photograph by Calum MacNaughton)
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Original Jazz Malcolm Jiyane Plays It Forward: New Frame https://iridiumjazz.com/original-jazz-malcolm-jiyane-plays-it-forward-new-frame/ Wed, 17 Nov 2021 05:09:03 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/original-jazz-malcolm-jiyane-plays-it-forward-new-frame/ For a while, musician Malcolm Jiyane has been jazz’s worst-kept secret. He had been on the radar of serious fans for almost 10 years, first as the fearless and original teenage trombone voice from the Gauteng Academy of Music to Benoni, then on voice, bone, piano and the canvas – he’s also a visual artist […]]]>

For a while, musician Malcolm Jiyane has been jazz’s worst-kept secret.

He had been on the radar of serious fans for almost 10 years, first as the fearless and original teenage trombone voice from the Gauteng Academy of Music to Benoni, then on voice, bone, piano and the canvas – he’s also a visual artist – at Steve Kwena Mokwena’s Afrikan Freedom Station in Westdene, Johannesburg. He quickly gained respect, including from his older jazz peers such as bassist Herbie Tsoaeli, who featured Jiyane on his African Time album. But that very originality meant less space for his genre of music on major commercial platforms such as festivals.

This has changed, however. In 2020, Jiyane led the Spaza ensemble, improvising the soundtrack for the documentary Soweto Uprising. Uprize, which has attracted considerable international attention. In the week we speak, they’re preparing a video for The Guess Who? party in Utrecht. And on November 12, his first album as leader of the group Tree-O, Umdali (the creator), launches in vinyl.

Jiyane was born in Benoni, in a difficult family situation. He spent time in Kids Haven, a home for orphans and other children in need, in his early teens and it was there that he met the late trumpeter, activist and music school principal Johnny Mekoa. Mekoa brought the large group from his Gauteng Academy of Music to Kids Haven to perform, hoping to recruit any kid interested in music. Jiyane has recounted on several occasions how he felt when he heard the band perform. Bag groove: “And my hair stood on end.”

After hearing Mekoa blow, Jiyane wanted to study the trumpet. But Mekoa “found out I smelled of cigarettes” and warned him, saying that smoking was bad news for a horn player’s lungs. Still, the teenager’s interest in brass continued, “and there was a friend of mine who studied trombone at the same school and also stayed at Kids Haven. He was lazy to practice, and on the weekends when he wasn’t around I would pick him up, open him up, and try to do what I had watched him do. Since that time, I have never looked back.

A long time to come

Jiyane’s long-term relationship with the Afrikan Freedom Station has helped Umdali. Mokwena, the founder of the cultural space and the gallery, wrote the album cover notes. In these, he recalls how Jiyane and his Tree-O outfit debuted when he first opened the venue in 2012. Jiyane returned, even after that first show was bombed, and the two have worked patiently through often disappointing door holds to build an audience. Tree-O was still on display – now a big crowd favorite – when the place closed to relocate in 2019.

Andrew Curnow, co-founder of Mushroom Hour Half Hour (M3H) label, said they were finalizing a new Tree-O album in early 2021 when sound engineer Peter Auret told them he already had an album. Jiyane’s complete record on her hard drive, recorded in 2018 in a session hosted by Mokwena.

Left: The leaflet for Umdaliis the launch. Law: Umdalidigital album cover. (Images courtesy of Mushroom Hour)

“The first track he played for us was Umkhumbi ka Ma. We were flabbergasted! [Although] the recordings were raw and hadn’t been mixed yet, they sounded good. We all immediately knew we had to release this music before the album we were on [currently] registration.”

Curnow describes rushing to edit, mix and send Umdali for mastering within three weeks. In addition, he says, the label is actively researching other unreleased tracks from Jiyane.

We cannot predict what it will be. Although Jiyane’s musical passions started with jazz, they now extend to all genres, from folk music to classical and avant-garde. “I believe there are more uncharted waters,” says the trombonist. “Just like the universe, we are still discovering new stars. So art is also a never-ending story.

Between tradition and innovation

Umdali has only five tracks, each carefully chosen from among Jiyane’s myriad of compositions, he says, “to work with the artists I had on hand” and pay homage to the personalities who have helped shape his life and his music . What makes all of the tracks so intriguing and distinctive is the way the frontman walks a cutting edge musical line between South African jazz tradition and innovation.

M3H label co-founder Nhlanhla Masondo says Jiyane perfectly escapes what he calls “the trap” of South African jazz. On the one hand, the voice of the music is unique and its quality immediately recognizable, although both are difficult to pin down in words. On the other hand, some musicians go to such lengths to capture that uniquely South African sound “that they end up being very… cornball.” The music ends up being banal and unoriginal. Of course, it will stand out with its national character, but it will be totally crazy … [But] in Malcolm’s case, you can hear the long line that this music comes and continues … It is both old and brand new.

Masondo says that Jiyane’s originality, which is rooted in the South African jazz tradition, is “old, because the lineage is unmistakable… These are South African grooves. Yet the sounds are as fresh as the Jazz Epistles or Heshoo Beshoo or Batsumi must have sounded when they were released. The music does not stay in an amorphous South African but clearly belongs to Malcolm, who is South African, and his colors are revealed. As Jiyane says: “As an artist, you are always shaped by your space. ”

Malcolm Jiyane distinguishes between South African jazz tradition and innovation on his new album. (Photograph by Tseliso Monaheng)

One place where the lineage rings particularly loud is in the tribute track, Ntate Gwangwa walk, written for the late Jonas Gwangwa who had been among the first patrons of the Mekoa school. “When I started wanting to learn more about trombonists,” says Jiyane, “most of the masters of this instrument that I studied came from abroad: JJ [James Louis] Johnson, Curtis Fuller, Albert Mangelsdorff and so on.

“But then I started looking for what this continent had in terms of jazz trombonists and I came across Bra Jonas. His music exploded my soul. Jiyane remembers hearing Gwangwa’s words Flowers of the Nation like another chilling moment in his musical journey. “From that point on, I knew I had to study it. As a trombonist, composer and arranger, I hold him close to my soul. I believe in her music, she speaks to me in a language that is my source of life.

Ntate Gwangwa walk evokes the deliberate, bluesy solos and call-and-response conversations with the band that Gwangwa used in his own compositions, including a perfectly vintage trumpet contribution by Tebogo Seitei. “I dedicated this song to [Gwangwa] purely because of the beauty I found listening to his music, ”says Jiyane. “I love it.”

Advancing the music

He continues: “There is a Zulu saying, indlela ibuzwa kwaba phambili (it is always best to seek advice from those who have walked the path before you). So this whole generation of Bra Jonas, Bra Johnny, is a source of knowledge… Studying their archives allows you to create your own.

The sense of mission that Jiyane admired in Mekoa continues to give her direction in her life. “My schooling ended in the 6th year, because my grandmother did not have the means to take care of all [my] siblings alone. Without Bra Johnny, there wouldn’t even have been a music school in Daveyton Township. The lack of outlets for creative expression in poor areas “pains me deep in my soul because it is still happening in 2021”.

Associated article:

  • The Brubecks, jazz and the fight for justice

One of Jiyane’s dreams is “to use what is in me, this gift, to create change in our country… I would like to open a music school in KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga, where my mother lives. Every time I visit this place I observe how helpless and bored young people are. No leisure facilities, no libraries, nothing. After all, I wouldn’t even have become a musician if Bra Johnny hadn’t responded to his call to do something.

Malcolm Jiyane’s album spear Saturday November 20 at 4 p.m. at 17 Madison St, North Doornfontein, Johannesburg.

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With a book and an album, Jeremy Pelt pays homage to the pushers of the limits of jazz https://iridiumjazz.com/with-a-book-and-an-album-jeremy-pelt-pays-homage-to-the-pushers-of-the-limits-of-jazz/ Wed, 20 Oct 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/with-a-book-and-an-album-jeremy-pelt-pays-homage-to-the-pushers-of-the-limits-of-jazz/ Pelt, whose quintet will perform the project’s music at Scullers on Friday, decided to attempt something similar, in which prominent black musicians speak candidly about the race and tradition of jazz with a trusted peer. He began interviewing musicians, including Warren Smith, usually doing it at home. Then COVID struck, unexpectedly making the project easier. […]]]>

Pelt, whose quintet will perform the project’s music at Scullers on Friday, decided to attempt something similar, in which prominent black musicians speak candidly about the race and tradition of jazz with a trusted peer.

He began interviewing musicians, including Warren Smith, usually doing it at home. Then COVID struck, unexpectedly making the project easier. With the concert halls closed, Pelt and his subjects had more free time to talk.

“There’s that aspect for sure,” Pelt confirms over the phone, preparing dinner the way he does and still a bit jet-lagged from a recent tour of Europe. “I think I might have had about 30 interviews before the pandemic hit, and then like everyone else I switched to Zoom. And everyone was already somehow used to being able to do that. . . . So I just said, ‘Alright, just let me corner them.’

“And they were all very easy going because, two things: we all have egos, so you don’t have to breathe a word for someone to talk about themselves. And second, I have a sort of respectability there, so they can trust me to wear it, especially in the tradition of “Notes and Tones.”

To date, Pelt has conducted 80 interviews, 15 of which include “Griot: Examining the Lives of Jazz’s Great Storytellers, Vol 1”. It has sold 1,000 copies so far, he says, and plans to publish four more volumes.

The book elucidates the state of jazz and race relations a few generations beyond the “Notes and Tones” era, with Pelt, 44, conversing one-on-one with a mix of old and new, among which René Marie, Wynton Marsalis, Terri Lyne Carrington and JD Allen. Two of the artists – Robert Glasper and Ambrose Akinmusire – are younger than Pelt himself.

“I literally met Jeremy the first night I was in New York City,” recalls Akinmusire, 39, who arrived from Oakland to begin studies at the Manhattan School of Music. “I landed, took a cab to the dorm and saw he was playing. I went down and we clicked. He was a great mentor to me at times, especially in New York, really caring for me during those early years.

Akinmusire is excited about Pelt’s book.

“I think jazz research is important,” he says. “It’s always really cool to have a different point of view, especially when the point of view comes from a more informed source. It’s a nice extension of what Art Taylor did.

Pelt, who graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1998, got more from his interviews than from a book. His album “Griot: C’est important! – released in February – consists of a spoken intro by Pelt, audio clips from eight of the book’s interviews and new Pelt compositions derived from seven of these clips.

“I sort of hear things in a cinematic way, if that makes sense,” Pelt explains of how his subjects’ lyrics led to the music he wrote. “I was a film music major in school, so I guess it goes hand in hand. But I hear things in this direction. So whatever kind of vibe it gives me, that’s where I pretty much start.

“So for ‘Don’t Dog the Source’ I wanted something that was really on the inside, but also on the outside – that’s why there wasn’t any real chord accompaniment. Whereas something like ‘A Beautiful [Expletive] Lie ‘was supposed to be very beautiful, that’s why I added a harp. Very dreamy, but ultimately it’s a lie because of the story being told. And so on.”

The last two quotes from the album come from Warren Smith and Akinmusire, two men deeply rooted in the tradition of jazz but open to pushing its limits.

Smith, 87, says he was discouraged from taking an interest in classical music by a racist teacher and then performing in the pit orchestra shortly after for “West Side Story.” Over the course of his career, he has performed with a wide range of stars and limit pushers, from Nancy Wilson and Quincy Jones to Max Roach and Anthony Braxton.

Akinmusire has established himself as one of the most adventurous composers of his generation, incorporating string quartets and rappers into his own music and collaborating over the years with Steve Coleman, Mary Halvorson, Roscoe Mitchell and Jen Shyu. Her quote snippet has to do with how the contextualization of the music in the story it is made in turns it into more than just notes and inspired the album’s final song, “Relevance.”

Was Pelt signaling something important by bringing these two musicians together – so distant from each other but so similar in their musical disposition – at the end?

“You pretty much imagine something that’s not the case,” Pelt replies. “Every time I put things in order, it’s more about how it sounds and where I feel good.

“But it’s good.” He’s laughing. “When you say it like that, now that you mention it, I can sound like a genius. “

JEREMY PELT QUINTET

At the Scullers Jazz Club, October 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets from $ 30 to $ 45. scullersjazz.com


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Malcolm Jiyane: Review of Umdali – South African Jazz That Affords Life | Jazz https://iridiumjazz.com/malcolm-jiyane-review-of-umdali-south-african-jazz-that-affords-life-jazz/ https://iridiumjazz.com/malcolm-jiyane-review-of-umdali-south-african-jazz-that-affords-life-jazz/#respond Fri, 15 Oct 2021 08:00:00 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/malcolm-jiyane-review-of-umdali-south-african-jazz-that-affords-life-jazz/ Eince Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim formed the Jazz Epistles in the 1950s, South African jazz musicians have reworked the American genre. The country sound combines the chromaticism of the bebop with a deeply swayed lope; in his economy of phrasing were anthemic melodies. Multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Jiyane is fully in this tradition. Mentored by trumpeter […]]]>

Eince Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim formed the Jazz Epistles in the 1950s, South African jazz musicians have reworked the American genre. The country sound combines the chromaticism of the bebop with a deeply swayed lope; in his economy of phrasing were anthemic melodies. Multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Jiyane is fully in this tradition. Mentored by trumpeter Johnny Mekoa, whose big band he joined at the age of 13, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, Jiyane has since made a name for himself as a pianist for the Johannesburg-based collective Spaza.

Malcolm Jiyane: Umdali album cover. Photography: Mushroom hour half hour

His expected debut as a conductor, Umdali, is at first glance a minimal affair, spanning five tracks and 45 minutes. Yet he channels the familiar subtle depth of Ibrahim’s music, as if pulling silk threads to unravel a tapestry. Senzo seNkosi is a tribute to Jiyane’s former collaborator, bassist Senzo Nxumalo, moving from an orchestral fanfare of horns and vamping touches to a downtempo chorus, which lights up for a delicately phrased solo by saxophonist Nhlanhla Mahlangu. Umkhumbi kaMa continues on the same beat, referencing Herbie Hancock’s jazz-funk in her rippling bass, while drummer Lungile Kunene’s groove gets more and more frenetic on a horn triplet chorus.

Jiyane’s talent as an arranger and instrumentalist is highlighted in the second half of the record. Channeling Ibrahim’s beloved composition Mannenberg to Ntate Gwangwa’s swagger Stroll, he rocks between trombone and keys while solo to complement his swing with a spiritual call and response reminiscent of gospel. The closing track, Moshe, sees Jiyane’s own voice take on the fiery melody as percussionist Gontse Makhene and drummer Lungile Kunene mesh together for a thrilling momentum.

The ensuing interaction between the solos, vocal harmony and the band’s melody is 10 minutes perfectly constructed. Like the light of the sun breaking through the clouds, Jiyane’s compositions contain an ineffable and invigorating hope: a sense of deep ancestry that also runs through her breath and her fingers.

Also released this month

Danish / Honduran artist Xenia Xamanek channels DJ Python’s downtempo dancefloor dub on their latest album Delirio Real (Uumphff). An unpredictable mix of synths, drum machines and songwriting on the guitar makes for enigmatic listening. hungarian producer Humiliate mixes West African and Brazilian rhythms with a satisfying and refined efficiency on Laroyê (Oshu Records). Tunisian artist Houeida Hedfi reconfigures Arabic folk compositions with ambient orchestration on his first film Rivers of the Soul (Phantasy Sound).


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What would summer days be without jazz and cocktails? https://iridiumjazz.com/what-would-summer-days-be-without-jazz-and-cocktails/ https://iridiumjazz.com/what-would-summer-days-be-without-jazz-and-cocktails/#respond Wed, 13 Oct 2021 09:50:50 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/what-would-summer-days-be-without-jazz-and-cocktails/ #CourvoisierMoments – an award-winning jazz and cognac cocktail. (Image: Instagram Photos / Ramsy) She dances barefoot, wearing the prettiest high waisted dress. Dressed in a suit and moccasins, he is at the height of his energy and his movements, their two heads bowed, soft smiles on their lips. The famous image of Malian photographer Malick […]]]>

#CourvoisierMoments – an award-winning jazz and cognac cocktail. (Image: Instagram Photos / Ramsy)

She dances barefoot, wearing the prettiest high waisted dress. Dressed in a suit and moccasins, he is at the height of his energy and his movements, their two heads bowed, soft smiles on their lips. The famous image of Malian photographer Malick Sidibe is in black and white but the energy is in technicolor.

You can almost imagine that they are dancing the tsaba-tsaba, and you can hear the music they are vibrating to. Something reminiscent of the days of The Jazz Epistles, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Dorothy Masuka … some of the names that are the basis of South African jazz music. A sound influenced by the rich cultural heritage of the people of the nation and of course by African and African American music.

These musicians in turn influenced the birth of new names such as Thandi Ntuli, Bokani Dyer, Sisonke Xonti, Mandisi Dyantyis, Nduduzo Makhatini, Benjamin Jephta, the Brother Moves On among others who have perpetuated the music of the 50s to create a new and the particular sound of jazz and the jazz tradition.

It’s that same sound that brings guest Tumi Morule out of his seat and spontaneously begins riffing at Bokani Dyer on the keys, on the roof of Southern Sun Hyde Park during a #CourvoisierMoments event. Then a young couple sets out on the dance floor. She wears heels and a canary yellow dress with fluttering pleated panels when turned by her vividly dressed partner wearing a shiny fedora, waistcoat and moccasins.

These are #MomentsCourvoiser – an invitation to celebrate and appreciate the finer things in life, and to truly savor life’s joyful moments through music and food.

Award-winning jazz artists Bokani Dyer and Sisonke Xonti alongside DJ Kenzhero and Tha Muzik are part of the musical program supported by Shilungwa Mhinga, to create an upbeat and uplifting modern jazz musical tapestry.

Dyer’s latest album, Kelenosi, is a genre-defying offering. Composed and recorded during confinement, it explores and offers interpretive jazz, electronic dance and afrobeats. As he taps the keys and improvises at the microphone, the sun is finally breaking through the clouds on this rainy Saturday afternoon.

Muzi Mtshali aka DJ Tha Muzik, known for playing house rhythms influenced by funk, jazz and hiphop with Afro and Latin sounds hops on the decks to change the tempo.

Along with music maestro Kenneth Nzama aka DJ Kenzhero, he is the co-founder of Obrigado evenings inspired by Latin African music and bossa nova and a show called What is Wrong with Grooving, an audio documentary that has studied various socio-political problems based on poetry. and music compiled by the duo. The now-defunct show paid tribute to trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, Masekela, among other jazz greats. Tha Muzik and Kenzhero are an integral part of modern Johannesburg musical culture.

Courvoisier daytime opportunity reimagined

The set of elegantly dressed revelers, rooftop setting and music combine to create an intoxicating cocktail. In fact, it is this particular recipe that inspired the creation of two Courvoisier cocktails, and reinvented for a contemporary audience. Fresh and vibrant while remaining true to its heritage roots, the Gala and the French Twist are joyful, generous and sophisticated at the same time.

And as the tunes mellow, the sun sets gently over Sandton’s skyline, and cocktails give way to goblets of Courvoisier VSOP on the rocks. Music is a unifier; and jazz music creates community. South African jazz puts you under your skin and has the ability to be completely transporting through its global influences and interpretations, to take you on a mad rush with its trance rhythm and to instantly make you feel at home at the same time. thanks to the instrumentation and the unique marabi sound. Explaining its social impact in an interview with IOL, Makhatini said, “Jazz is a genre that relies on the surrounding conversations of surrounding energy fields.”

He was referring to the role he has played in the lives of black South Africans since the 1950s and 1960s; how sound developed to reflect the times and evolves as it is touched by artists who have now pioneered and continue to redefine the sound of 21st century jazz, one of the forms most dynamic African art, to quote writer and music researcher Gwen Ansell.

This article is sponsored by Courvoisier produced by BrandStudio24 for News24.


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Zanzibar to host the first Mashariki Jazz and Folk Music Fest https://iridiumjazz.com/zanzibar-to-host-the-first-mashariki-jazz-and-folk-music-fest/ https://iridiumjazz.com/zanzibar-to-host-the-first-mashariki-jazz-and-folk-music-fest/#respond Thu, 30 Sep 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/zanzibar-to-host-the-first-mashariki-jazz-and-folk-music-fest/ The new live music festival will feature emerging and established artists including Msafiri Zawose (Tanzania), Makadem (Kenya), Lily Kadima (Uganda) and Siti and The Band (Zanzibar). The others are TaraJazz (Zanzibar), Wanawake Waridi (Zanzibar), Mopao Swahili Jazz (Tanzania), Sandra Nankoma (Uganda), Tofa Boy (Zanzibar) and Fadhilee Itulya (Kenya). Organizers say the festival will feature indigenous […]]]>

The new live music festival will feature emerging and established artists including Msafiri Zawose (Tanzania), Makadem (Kenya), Lily Kadima (Uganda) and Siti and The Band (Zanzibar). The others are TaraJazz (Zanzibar), Wanawake Waridi (Zanzibar), Mopao Swahili Jazz (Tanzania), Sandra Nankoma (Uganda), Tofa Boy (Zanzibar) and Fadhilee Itulya (Kenya).

Organizers say the festival will feature indigenous and contemporary music from the region while encouraging, nurturing and showcasing young talent.

“This festival aims to be a platform where musicians are well paid, whether established or not,” Mashariki festival co-founder John Kagaruki told Music In Africa. “Normally, concerts are organized by promoters or organizations with high overhead costs and do not necessarily offer fair remuneration to artists, especially in Africa. We are grateful to have found a sponsor willing to cover the artists’ fees.

Anna Kattoa, member of Wanawake Waridi, said: “We see this festival as a platform that can take musicians’ careers to the next level. When emerging artists and top professional musicians come together, great networks and collaborations occur because you can interact with music that you might never have heard of otherwise.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to support the Dhow Country Music Academy in Zanzibar, which is facing a financial crisis. While the school has received support from international donors and diplomatic missions over the years, it now faces an uphill battle to keep its doors open. The institution plays an important role in the teaching, preservation and promotion of the music of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

“DCMA not only teaches and promotes traditional culture and heritage through music, but it is also home to a community of young musicians who are looking for alternatives to make a living as creatives,” Kattoa said.

Festival tickets are available here.


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James Brandon Lewis, Chris Hoffman and Poets for Jazz Poetry Month – In person or online https://iridiumjazz.com/james-brandon-lewis-chris-hoffman-and-poets-for-jazz-poetry-month-in-person-or-online/ https://iridiumjazz.com/james-brandon-lewis-chris-hoffman-and-poets-for-jazz-poetry-month-in-person-or-online/#respond Wed, 29 Sep 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/james-brandon-lewis-chris-hoffman-and-poets-for-jazz-poetry-month-in-person-or-online/ Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and cellist Chris Hoffman present an evening of duets, featuring original compositions and live improvisations. James Brandon Lewis, also a poet, will read his work and collaborate with poets Mr. Soledad Caballero, Joel Dias-Porter and Allegheny County Youth Poet Laureate Danielle Obisie-Orlu. Featured Poets Joël Dias-Porter (aka DJ Renegade) was born […]]]>

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and cellist Chris Hoffman present an evening of duets, featuring original compositions and live improvisations.

James Brandon Lewis, also a poet, will read his work and collaborate with poets Mr. Soledad Caballero, Joel Dias-Porter and Allegheny County Youth Poet Laureate Danielle Obisie-Orlu.

Featured Poets

Joël Dias-Porter (aka DJ Renegade) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was a former nightclub DJ. He was 5 times individual finalist at the National Poetry Slam and Haiku Slam champion 1998 and 1999. In 1995 he received the Furious Flower “Emerging Poet Award”. Performances include the Today Show, SlamNation, on BET and the movie Slam. A member of Cave Canem, he has a book “Ideas for Improvisation” to be published by Thread Makes Blanket Press in Spring 2022.

Danielle Obisie-Orlu is a Nigerian-American student, actress and poet who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a qualified speaker, receiving accolades in speech, theater and debate. She attends the University of Pittsburgh and has a double major in International and Regional Studies and Political Science, with minors in Sociology and French. She is dedicated to promoting environments of intersectional community, belonging and empowerment. She is passionate about migration, belonging and international human rights law; partners with ARSYE to empower young migrants and refugee voices; and is a student leader on her campus.

Mr. Soledad Caballero is Professor of English and Co-Chair of the Gender and Women’s Sexuality Studies Program at Allegheny College. Her scholarship focuses on British Romanticism, Travel Writing and Interdisciplinarity. She is a Macondo Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, has been nominated for three Pushcart Awards and won the Joy Harjo 2019 Poetry Competition sponsored by Cut-throat: A Journal of the Arts. Her debut collection, I Was a Bell, won the 2019 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Prize and will be published by Red Hen Press in 2021.

There are two ways to watch the program: in person at Alphabet City or live online. If you come live, you can also dine at the hotel restaurant 40 North.

Please scroll down to view the Covid-19 Safety Policies for Indoor Programs @ Alphabet City, including the proof of vaccination required.


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SA: Joy of Jazz will organize a drive-in festival https://iridiumjazz.com/sa-joy-of-jazz-will-organize-a-drive-in-festival/ https://iridiumjazz.com/sa-joy-of-jazz-will-organize-a-drive-in-festival/#respond Wed, 22 Sep 2021 15:51:43 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/sa-joy-of-jazz-will-organize-a-drive-in-festival/ The Jazz Drive-In concert will kick off with a jamboree performance by Croatian singer Ziza Muftic. She will be followed by Gloria Bosman with saxophonist McCoy Mrubata, trumpeter Feya Faku, pianist Paul Hanmer, bassist Herbie Tsoaeli and drummer Justin Badenhorst. Bosman’s concert will pay tribute to jazz and opera singer Sibongile Khumalo, who would have […]]]>

The Jazz Drive-In concert will kick off with a jamboree performance by Croatian singer Ziza Muftic. She will be followed by Gloria Bosman with saxophonist McCoy Mrubata, trumpeter Feya Faku, pianist Paul Hanmer, bassist Herbie Tsoaeli and drummer Justin Badenhorst. Bosman’s concert will pay tribute to jazz and opera singer Sibongile Khumalo, who would have turned 64 on September 24.

On September 25, Steve Dyer will perform songs from his album Genesis of a different world album alongside Bokani Dyer, Sisonke Xonti, Sthembiso Bhengu, Romy Brauteseth, Lungile Kunene and Leagan Breda.

The festival will enter a crescendo on September 26 with performances by Vuma Levin, Nduduzo Makhathini, Thandi Ntuli and Mark Fransman.

“We dared to organize the best of South African jazz and improvise a way to celebrate jazz music during this difficult time,” said T-Musicman CEO Mantwa Chinuamdi-Mutshinya.

“This is in line with the spirit of jazz and the values ​​of our new festival and our company as organizers to find a solution to a global challenge created by the pandemic. We seek to build on the legacy initiated by our founder, Peter Tladi. We believe our people will join in this celebration of creative imagination and resilience. “

Tickets for the event start from R200 per car, with no more than four people allowed in a single vehicle.


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“Jazz for me is like oxygen” – an interview with Sam Nhlengethwa https://iridiumjazz.com/jazz-for-me-is-like-oxygen-an-interview-with-sam-nhlengethwa/ https://iridiumjazz.com/jazz-for-me-is-like-oxygen-an-interview-with-sam-nhlengethwa/#respond Wed, 22 Sep 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://iridiumjazz.com/jazz-for-me-is-like-oxygen-an-interview-with-sam-nhlengethwa/ Sam Nhlengethwa has been making paintings and collages since the 1970s. Born in 1955 in Payneville, a mining town east of Johannesburg, the artist studied at the Mofolo Art Center in Soweto, then at the Johannesburg Art Foundation with its founder Bill Ainslie; Along with painters David Koloane and Kagiso Patrick Mautloa, Nhlengethwa was co-founder […]]]>

Sam Nhlengethwa has been making paintings and collages since the 1970s. Born in 1955 in Payneville, a mining town east of Johannesburg, the artist studied at the Mofolo Art Center in Soweto, then at the Johannesburg Art Foundation with its founder Bill Ainslie; Along with painters David Koloane and Kagiso Patrick Mautloa, Nhlengethwa was co-founder of Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in 1991, which provided space and resources for black artists in the city. Since his teens, Nhlengethwa has also been obsessed with jazz music, frequently incorporating images of performers and record covers in his paintings, textiles and collages. On the occasion of his last exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in London, Nhlengethwa spoke to Apollo about his unwavering passion for the world of jazz.

Many visual artists cite jazz as inspiration, you seem particularly devoted to jazz and its personalities – as they appear on record covers, posters and on stage. What does this music mean to you?
Jazz for me is like oxygen. It completes my life. I grew up listening to jazz music played to me by my two older brothers; from the age of 15, there was jazz in the house. It became a part of me – as I was going through high school, then I decided to go to art school, and I found jazz to be my tool. I find it very embarrassing and strange if I paint in my studio without listening to it.

The show in London is my biggest on the jazz theme, and I consider the way I worked to create these pieces as kind of a collaboration. Without all the composers, the actors themselves, the photographers who provided all of the wonderful images from the archives, the collages I make wouldn’t exist.

Ode to jazz hubs (2021), Sam Nhlengethwa. Courtesy of the Goodman Gallery

The exhibit includes collages of record covers, concert posters and performance images, but there is also an installation that is a replica of your living room, complete with an LP player. Is jazz a private passion or does it also have a public function?
I’d say it’s public – but, selfishly, I’m making it private. This installation in the show reflects me in my free time, when I’m not working, sitting on a comfortable sofa and calmly listening to jazz.

But jazz is also public, of course. When I do works of art inspired by European or American musicians like Miles Davis or Ron Carter, it’s a little different than doing painting or collage with inspiration from [the South African musicians] Todd Matshikiza, Miriam Makeba or Hugh Masekela – because I know their fight. Some of them had to leave the country for political reasons – it all gets a bit touching when I approach jazz from South Africa.

Installation view of 'Sam Nhlengethwa: <a class=Jazz and Blues at Night’ at the Goodman Gallery, London, 2021.” width=”730″ height=”487″ data-img-id=”966970″ srcset=”https://apollo.imgix.net/content/uploads/2021/09/GoodmanGallery_Installation_28.08.21_0006.jpg?auto=compress,format&w=730&h=487 730w, https://apollo.imgix.net/content/uploads/2021/09/GoodmanGallery_Installation_28.08.21_0006.jpg?auto=compress,format&w=150&h=100 150w, https://apollo.imgix.net/content/uploads/2021/09/GoodmanGallery_Installation_28.08.21_0006.jpg?auto=compress,format&w=300&h=200 300w, https://apollo.imgix.net/content/uploads/2021/09/GoodmanGallery_Installation_28.08.21_0006.jpg?auto=compress,format&w=900&h=600 900w” sizes=”(max-width: 730px) 100vw, 730px”/>

Installation view of ‘Sam Nhlengethwa: Jazz and Blues at Night’ at the Goodman Gallery, London, 2021.

You spoke previously of jazz as being above all an art of “interpretation” – the same could be said of your paintings and collages. How are visual arts and jazz music connected, for you?
Jazz and the visual arts are like the head and tail of a coin. There are musicians who also practice artists – Miles Davis was one; Joni Mitchell was also a great painter. In this spirit, the collages that I make with jazz covers are a way of paying tribute to the artists who made them, but also to the musicians who chose these images for the cover of their album, who were inspired by them. So there is a very strong relationship between visual art and jazz. Especially here at home in South Africa – photographers, musicians and artists are so close to each other, all under one umbrella.

Miriam Makeba (2021), Sam Nhlengethwa.  Courtesy of the Goodman Gallery

Myriam Makeba (2021), Sam Nhlengethwa. Courtesy of the Goodman Gallery

Jazz aficionados and art lovers alike also share a certain urge to create collections – part of the vast record collection you’ve amassed over the years is on display at Goodman …
Yes, it was not that easy! When I started collecting, I lived with my parents. Every once in a while, when I went to a record store to buy something, when I came home I had to hide it, because for my mother it didn’t make sense for me to go and feed my passion – I could have contributed or donated this money to my family. So it was very difficult. But like I said, jazz has been a part of me for so many years.

I had in my bag – I still have some – an A5 sketchbook, and I would go to jazz clubs, sit in a corner and draw the performers. We often went to [the jazz club] Kippies on a Friday night. Once, on a Saturday night, in front of a restaurant near my studio, there were guys walking in the streets. I opened my bag, realized I didn’t have my sketchbook, so on the back of an envelope I made a sketch – I still have this sketch. When I pulled out my sketchbooks [for the exhibition], I realized that I had done and seen so many, sketched so many musicians, over the years.

Sextet (2021), Sam Nhlengethwa. Courtesy of the Goodman Gallery

What’s the biggest concert you’ve attended?
It was about three or four years ago, in the south of France, at a place called Saint-Émilion where I was a passing artist. I saw Charles Lloyd – he was playing with kids, but it was such a beautiful show. Two or three days later there was a gig there – Kyle Eastwood, playing with Jean-Luc Ponty. I saw Richard Bona, I saw Stacey Kent… I have been blessed all these years to see the best musicians. In Cape Town, I saw Hubert Laws, Ron Carter, Nina Simone… yeah, I saw a lot!

Art Blakely (2021), Sam Nhlengethwa.  Courtesy of the Goodman Gallery

Blakely Art (2021), Sam Nhlengethwa. Courtesy of the Goodman Gallery

‘Sam Nhlengethwa: Jazz and Blues at Night’ is at the Goodman Gallery, London, until September 25.


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