(Skokiana. Pic by Maria Cristina Giampietri)
Skokiana's highly anticipated self-titled album will be launching at two events this month: March 26 at The Rainbow and on March 29 at the Centre for Jazz.
Skokiana will perform songs from the album, composed and arranged by Sazi Dlamini, recorded in Durban in 2011. The CD will be available for purchase at the events for R100, and will also soon be available online at iTunes, Google Play and other online streaming services like Deezer and Spotify.
Founded in 1991 as a quartet, playing in the jazz-influenced township tradition, the group’s original members were Sazi Dlamini on guitar, the late Leonard Rachabane on tenor saxophone, Bongani Sokhela on bass and Jabu Dube on drums. At the time they were all music students at the then University of Natal, Durban.
Over more than two decades Skokiana’s line-up has included outstanding musicians, among them: Maynard Mabatle, Geoffrey Tracey, Carlos di Stasi and Sithembiso Hlela (percussionists); Chris Mashiane, Dumisani Hlela, Nkanyezi Cele, Lebohang Mothabeng and Bonga Mzimela (drummers); Thami Mtshali, Phiwe Solomon, Njeza Dlamini, Mandla Zikalala and Sandile Cele (bassists); Mfana Mlambo and Dick Hathorn (saxophonists); Fezile Faku (trumpet and fluegelhorn); Dumisani Nxumalo (trombone) and Siphelele Dlamini (pennywhistle and flute).
Over the years the longevity of Skokiana has been sustained by student talent selected into UKZN’s music studies programmes. At the end of their studies, members invariably depart for Johannesburg’s musical horizons, thus making way for younger players of promise. Since 1996, Skokiana has fielded variably-sized groups (from trios up to17-piece big-band). Many such appearances have been documented.
Sazi Dlamini, who holds a PhD degree in musicology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, was born in 1960. He began school in 1967 at Dududu Bantu Community School and Magabheni Primary, matriculating from Amanzimtoti Zulu Training School, formerly known as Adams College, in 1979. A science degree undergraduate at the University of Fort Hare in 1980, his studies were disrupted as a result of student protests (and subsequent closure of the university by the army). From 1981 until 1987 he was registered for MBChB at the University of Natal’s Black Section (UNB), envisaging a possible medical career from which he was diverted as a result of his passion for music. His formal musical training include a Diploma in Musical Performance (Jazz) from the then University of Natal (1991), followed by a Bachelor of Music (1995) and Master of Music degree in Ethnomusicology (1997).
Sazi is ethno-musicologist, composer and unique performer in the jazz-influenced style of South African music whose initial recording, composing and performance career is documented in, among other albums, Zanusi (1989) and African Tributes (1992). To support a protracted student career (and fatherhood since 1991), Sazi simultaneously free-lanced as composer for children’s educational radio and television programmes including Takalani Sesame . He has recorded many original musical pieces that employ indigenous Nguni instruments such as bows, drums and flutes, which he has manufactured himself; as well as other African musical instruments. He is a versatile performer and mediator across a regional diversity of musical performance, with a long-standing involvement in the creative contextualisation of indigenous, popular and formal musical performance across cultures and genres of music.
In 2016 he accepted the eThekwini Municipality’s Living Legends Award, in recognition of his contributions to arts and culture, for his work in the preservation and promotion of indigenous KZN music genres such as maskandi, mbaqanga, isicathamiya and children’s musical performance, as well as theatre and dance, and his critical role in musical performance, education and social transformation.
Performances take place at 14h00 on March 26 at The Rainbow at 23 Stanfield Lane, Pinetown, and on March 29 at the Centre for Jazz at 18h00.