South African Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini to Release New Project “uNomkhubulwane” on June 7th, 2024 | LISTEN!

South African Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini to Release New Project “uNomkhubulwane” on June 7th, 2024

South African pianist, composer, healer, and philosopher Nduduzo Makhathini returns with the June 7 release of his third Blue Note album uNomkhubulwane. The transcendent three-movement suite features Makhathini’s trio with bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell le Pere on bass and drummer Francisco Mela. The suite takes its title from the Zulu name of “God’s only daughter and a manifestation of God’s very creation purpose,” the pianist explains. “She is also believed to be a mythical rain goddess, a regulator of nature, light and fertility.” A shapeshifting force, uNomkhubulwane can manifest in the form of an animal, or a hurricane or a rainbow — the lattermost of which, Makhathini says, symbolizes her “kindness and regulation of balance.”

The project’s three movements are a kind of pathway to embracing the spirit of uNomkhubulwane — three being a number of monumental power and meaning in Africa. “In Yoruba cosmology,” Makhathini says, “number 3 represents balance and harmony [characteristics of uNomkhubulwane]. Much broader African worldviews associate number 3 with endlessness, immortality and ongoing-ness through a triple state of being; before [ancestors], here [the living] and the future [the not-yet-born].” Three is indicated directly in the music of Makhathini’s new suite — in the trio format of the band, in time signatures, in a delightful triplet feel.

The suite emerged out of a “mother song” afforded to Makhathini during the initiation process he underwent to become a healer. There, he was immersed in water in order to encounter uNomkhubulwane, who gifted him this song. “The first movement ‘Libations,’” he says, “deals with collective black memory inside a state of protest against ongoing oppression[s],” adding that “this movement invokes an eternal state of black mourning that has made us lose our ‘voices,’ and even though we still cry, we do not have tears anymore.” The second movement, ‘Water Spirits,’ deals with vital energy and restoration — a proposal of “cleansing and summoning of essence.” The final movement, “Inner Attainment,” focuses on “freedom, hope and grace,” and the striving toward a transcendence that would bring abundance back to our current time and physical plane.

As always, Makhathini’s message is ultimately one of perpetual optimism for his people, and for all people. “Essentially, this offering is an invitation to humanity to cultivate ways of being that yearn for freedom and balance,” he says. “Here I invite you to a new mode of humanism that is oriented towards singing the songs of uNomkhubulwane.”

Blue Note Records

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