Jazz World Trio celebrates International Jazz Day with concert and conversation

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Jazz pianist Witness Matlou PHOTO: THERESA FOSTER

Jazz pianist Witness Matlou knows the power of music on social change. It changed her life and gave her the opportunity to give back to her community while traveling the world playing and teaching.

The Johannesburg native’s early exposure and understanding of the power of music came about through the role South African musicians played in the fight against apartheid, Matlou told The Banner in a recent telephone conversation. . “Music has been used to really communicate a message in general,” he says.

Matlou also quotes how Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, while in exile in the United States during this time, used their music as “a platform to talk about the struggle, to raise awareness of what was going on. in South Africa “.

The composer, performer and conductor, whose work is influenced by traditional African, folk, jazz and classical music, is scheduled to perform with his band, the Jazz World Trio, Friday at 8 p.m. at JazzNOW: No Borders. The Jazz World Trio features Argentinian drummer, composer and educator Guillermo Nojechowicz; internationally renowned Swedish bassist Bruno RÃ¥berg; and Matlou. All three musicians are affiliated with Berklee College of Music.

The April 30 live virtual performance is a production by Boston public media producer GBH and JazzBoston, and will air from GBH Fraser Performance Studio. The concert is a celebration of International Jazz Day. Eric Jackson, longtime host of the “Eric in the Evening” radio show, will have a conversation with the musicians after the performance. The concert and conversation are free, but pre-registration for the event is required.

Matlou grew up in Tembisa Township. He says it was in church, especially the junior choir, that he began his musical education. But it was during his high school years that the aspiring musician fell in love with jazz music while hanging out after school at the Moses Molelekwa Community Center. His mentor Jerry Molelekwa, affectionately known as “Bra Monk” because of his love for Thelonious Monk, introduced Matlou to jazz and gave him a CD to listen to each week, which inspired his aspirations to someday perform professionally.

It wasn’t long before the Berklee College of Music in Boston stepped in. Matlou received a full scholarship to study music and in 2015 obtained a bachelor’s degree in performance, jazz compositions and a minor in philosophy. He then obtained a Masters degree in 2016 from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, where he studied with Grammy-winning musicians Danilo Pérez and Terri Lyne Carrington. After obtaining his masters, he was awarded a post-masters scholarship in 2017 at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute.

Matlou has toured professionally across Europe, Africa, Latin America and the United States and has performed at numerous music festivals including the Panama Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, as well as the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and Dizzy’s Jazz Club at Lincoln Center in New York.

Currently a member of the Harvard University Center for African Studies, Matlou has not forgotten his roots and how music has enriched his life. He has given back to the local community by teaching music to young people at several organizations in Massachusetts, including All Dorchester Sports and Leadership, the Moses Youth Center in Cambridge, and the Hamilton-Garrett Music and Arts Academy in Roxbury. He also worked with the Tony Williams Dance Company as a composer and musical director on the company’s “Urban Nutcracker”.


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