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Feya Faku - Live In Philly

Feya Faku 1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 7 pm

FEYA FAKU QUINTET

Rose Recital Hall, UPenn

3340 Walnut Street (4th floor)

Philadelphia, PA 19104

Free Admission 

 

Fezile "Feya" Faku was born in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Port Elizabeth is a town often referred to as a Jazz Academy that brought forth a great number of jazz musicians. He studied music at University of Natal with Darius Brubeck and graduated with a University Diploma in Jazz Studies. He has performed with a great number of South African musical legends - from Barney Rachabane, Thandie Classen, Duke Makasi, Pat Matshikiza, Basel Coetzee, Winston ‘Mankunku’ Ngozi and Bheki Mseleku to Abdullah Ibrahim. Among the generation that has followed them, he is considered one of South Africa’s leading jazz musicians.

 

Feya Faku 2In addition to leading his own groups in South Africa, Mr. Faku travels frequently to perform on international stages with global counterparts. He has participated in long-term collaborations with European musicians such as Dutch saxophonist Paul van Kemenade and Swiss drummer Dominic Egli.  He has also toured the U.S. with the South African all-star group “Uhadi” as well as with Zim Ngqawana and Kesivan Naidoo & The Lights. He has recorded four albums as a leader and numerous more as a sideman. Mr. Faku has participated in teaching and fellowship programmes teaching trumpet and ensemble work. In April 2006 he participated in a residency programme in Switzerland teaching and performing with the Swiss-South African Quintet. The University Council of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University awarded him a Council Prestige Award. In October 2012, he was Artist in Residence at the opening of the International Jazz School of the University of South Africa.

 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 7 pm

FEYA FAKU QUINTET

Rose Recital Hall, UPenn

3340 Walnut Street (4th floor)

Philadelphia, PA 19104

Free Admission 

 

At the time of this article's publishing, Feya Faku was in Switzerland. The Philadelphia Jazz Project, was unable to reach him by phone or email. However, we did connect with Boston-based pianist, John Kordalewski, who will be an integral part of the Feya Faku Ensemble. Kordalewski is a gifted pianist and composer. He is also the leader of the Makanda Project: A Boston-based big band dedicated to preserving and performing the compositions of the legendary, reedman, Makanda Ken McIntyre. The group performed here with us back in the fall of 2015.

 

We asked pianist John Kordalewski to talk about Feya Faku and the upcoming performance.


PJP: Can you briefly describe the musical direction of the Feya Faku Ensemble?

 

Feya Faku 3John Kordalewski: Feya Faku is one of the leading jazz musicians in South Africa, and this concert is both a chance for him to perform his music with a US band, and for us to experience his music.  There is wonderful jazz being played in South Africa today.  Feya's compositions have a unique character. One can hear traces of, for instance, mid-60s John Coltrane, but there's also a distinctive South African flavor. His tunes have beautiful melodies and rich harmonies.

 

PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?

 

John Kordalewski: A few years ago, I began a project arranging compositions by South African pianist Ndikho Xaba.  Ndikho is an old friend; he was a mentor and important musical inspiration to me in my "younger days."  He lived in the US in exile during apartheid.  In the process of developing this project I have been getting to know other South African musicians and people involved with South African music.  In general, I have been drawn to the jazz being played in South Africa today.  There is something very refreshing about it.  I am very interested in the possibilities for collaboration and mutual exploration between US and South African musicians.  My 13 piece group, the Makanda Project has been incorporating my arrangements of Ndikho Xaba compositions into many of our performances.

 

PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?

 

Feya Faku 4John Kordalewski: I think that's what we try to do in the Makanda Project.  The Makanda Ken McIntyre compositions we play were written anywhere from 20 to 50 years ago, yet they constantly push us to new places.  I'm 62 years old, which means I'm fortunate enough to have come up in a time when I had direct contact with original beboppers, as well as innovators from the 1960s such as Makanda.  From them I learned things about the meaning and spirit of jazz which I think are very essential, that I think we should not lose sight of.  So in the Makanda Project we are hopefully calling attention to a tradition while playing music that remains very forward looking in 2017.

 

In South African culture, respect for elders and ancestors is emphasized greatly.

 

PJP: Can you briefly describe your direction, your goals, as the creator/producer of the upcoming event? Why is it important? 

 

John Kordalewski: I would just add that since November 8, our work as artists in the US has taken on added meaning.  South African jazz can serve as a reference for this.  One of the things that made Ndikho Xaba's music so powerful when I listened to it in the 1970s was that he was, in a conscious and determined way, expressing a vision of humanity that was being denied and negated by the powers-that-be in South Africa, and calling attention to the need to oppose the apartheid regime.  We are in a similar situation with Donald Trump as "so-called President."

 

Feya Faku 5PJP: Tell us about the people working with you.

 

John Kordalewski: Lance Bryant is a tenor saxophonist who for the last several years has been a member of Abdullah Ibrahim's "Ekaya" sextet.  He and Feya also worked together in an earlier version of that group.  We were originally going to do the performance as a quartet, but Feya and I both thought adding Lance to the group would be perfect!  He has also been a member of my  group the Makanda Project.  His resume includes being musical director for the Lionel Hampton Orchestra in 1993-2000.

 

Chris Berger is a wonderful bassist from New Jersey who has been working with Lance. He has played with many great musicians including Herb Ellis, Jimmy Cobb, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Joe Lovano.

 

Warren Smith (drums) is a true master musician.  The breadth of his knowledge and experience is mindboggling.  He has played with a who's who of jazz musicians - including Sam Rivers, Muhal Richard Abrams, Kenny Burrell, Charles Mingus, and Miles Davis - and was a founding member of Max Roach's M'Boom percussion ensemble.  But it doesn't stop there.  He has performed in numerous Broadway shows; appeared on many Motown recordings, including all the hit records by Gladys Knight and the Pips; worked with pop musicians such as Barbra Streisand, Harry Belafonte, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin; and also worked with contemporary classical musicians such as John Cage.  As a drummer, he always seems to know the right thing to play to make the music as a whole sound good.

 

PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?

 

John Kordalewski: I don't feel as if I have a choice in the matter.  If I did, maybe I'd be doing something easier?

 

 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 7 pm

FEYA FAKU QUINTET

Rose Recital Hall, UPenn

3340 Walnut Street (4th floor)

Philadelphia, PA 19104

Free Admission 

 

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation.

 

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Tags : FeyaFaku NewBrighton SouthAfrica SouthAfricanJazz Uhadi DariusBrubeck BarneyRachabane ThandieClassen DukeMakasi PatMatshikiza BaselCoetzee WinstonNgozi BhekiMseleku AbdullahIbrahim Uhadi ZimNgqawana KesivanNaidoo JohnColtrane SouthAfricanflavor JohnKordalewski MakandaProject MakandaKenMcIntyre PaulvanKemenade DominicEgli NdikhoXaba LanceBryant ChrisBerger WarrenSmith

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation.