It’s not often that you encounter music that takes you back to yesteryear that are executed brilliantly by artists of today. I’ve had that experience last night and there’s not enough words in the Oxford dictionary to describe how I felt. To see it come alive with such excellence and a bit of humour was really great and once again I wished I lived in that era.
What am I rambling about? The musical tribute to The Manhattan Brothers at the Soweto Theatre of course. I was invited to the opening show last and boy oh boy what a show it was. For those of you who don’t know who The Manhattan Brothers is, have a seat and let’s start this history lesson with Wikipedia:
The Manhattan Brothers
During the late ’90s a young group of talented rural Afro Jazz musicians from around Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, with the approval of Miriam Makeba and Joe Mogotsi, formed a tribute band called Junior Manhattan Brothers (JMB), a group of young stars who continued the civil rights activism begun by their predecessors. Led by well-respected Afro Jazz local legend Nkosinathi (Nathi) Hadebe, the group consisted at various times, of four to six “vibrant and awesomely talented” members, including Vusumuzi (Vusi) Madondo, Lindokuhle (Ndo) Makathini, Fanizile (Jeffrey) Nzuza, Bongani Mabaso, Lungisani Mhlongo, Thabo Motsamai — and following the passing of two founding members, reformed in 2012 to “take a stand” in memory of their mentors and beloved former members bringing in new members to compliment the existing lineup.Blending traditional, gospel, Afro Jazz, jive, doo-wop, swing ragtime and any other musical genre they could incorporate, with or without musical accompaniment they are able to collectively bring the house down in seconds.
About the show:
This show is aimed at honouring the long-forgotten kings of South African Jazz and popular music in the 40s and 50s. The role of The Manhattan Brothers are portrayed by local acapella group Complete that consist of founding members Bonginkosi and Happy Motha alongside Mluleki Chuma and Bubele Mgele. They’ve been together for 15 years and some of their accolades includes working with Hugh Masekela, Themba Mkhize and the SWR Big Band from Germany. Their soulful performances were meant to entice, seduce and then take you to church at some stage and they did just that. The role of Miriam Makeba are portrayed by the talented Mmatema Moremi who made history earlier this year as the first Idols contestant to host a one-woman show titled “Mmatema Moremi’s One Woman Show” at the South African State Theatre’s Opera Theatre as a solo artist with no opening acts and the theatre was filled to capacity. Not only is she an amazing singer but a brilliant actress as well. Her voice send chills down my spine every single time. This show is choreographed by seasoned performer Somizi Mlongo and every effort has been made to keep it as authentic as possible. The live band features the talents of the amazing Johan Mthethwa on piano and keyboard…at the same time, Thembinkosi Mavumbela on double bass and Tlotliso Ntabane on drums.
A Musical Tribute to The Manhattan Brothers runs at the Soweto Theatre from December 8th to December 18th 2016. Performances are from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. All tickets are R80 and are available by visiting http://www.sowetotheatre.com or calling 0861 670 670, as well as through Webtickets. For group bookings of 10 or more, please contact the theatre directly on 011 930 7461/2/3