Rwandan music fever hits Gugs

Jazz in the Native Yards, in association with Slowlife, presents an exciting USA-Rwandan Afro-jazz and folk concert, featuring US saxophonist Jeremy Danneman and Rwandan singer Sophie Nzayisenga on Saturday June 2, at Kwa Sec NY 138 No.52 Gugulethu, from 3pm.

Based in New York, Jeremy also plays the clarinet. He is a composer, educator and the founder of Parade of One Inc, an international musical outreach organisation. His music has been featured in multiple films.

As an educator, he has guest lectured at high schools and universities worldwide. In 2015, his first album, Lady Boom Boom, was released on Ropeadope Records.

Sophie is a singer and one of the few professional female inanga players in the world.

The inanga is a 10 string zither-like instrument. Jeremy and Sophie will also be joined by Cape Town drummer, Liam Webb.

Liam played with the South Peninsula High School jazz band before he enrolled to study at UCT’s College of Music.

This collaboration is rare and first happened way back by chance, explains Jeremy.

“I first met Sophie when I went to Rwanda in 2009 to give street performances in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi,” says Jeremy.

“I had for years been fascinated by this rare instrument after hearing it on a CD from the Nonesuch Explorer Series called Burundi: Music from the Heart of Africa. As I was planning my trip, I became aware that inanga is the national instrument of Rwanda and voiced my interest in finding an inanga player to collaborate with there, so some friends introduced me to Sophie who at the time didn’t speak a word of English. During that trip we performed together at the Goethe Institute of Kigali,” explains Jeremy.

Soon began a four year quest to bring Sophie to New York City to perform and record with Jeremy’s band. The first obstacle was funding, which was done through Indiegogo and eventually a grant came from the Puffin Foundation.

“A more troubling and unusual hindrance was the USA immigration bureaucracy,” says Jeremy.

“My first attempt to bring Sophie to New York City failed when the State Department denied her a visa in 2013, after I’d already invested considerable personal resources in the project. In 2015, with intervention from the Rwandan government, the State Department finally authorised Sophie to travel to and from the USA.

“Some of the songs on the album Honey Wine are fully improvised such as the title track. Ibeseke is a song of Sophie’s, and the rest are compositions I assembled by studying the rhythmic patterns of classic inanga masters such as Joseph Sebatunzi and assimilating Western and other scales to the pentatonic inanga patterns.”

Tickets cost R80 cash at the door or R50 for students and pensioners.

For more information SMS or WhatsApp Luvuyo at 060 960 8935