Guitarist and singer Sibusile Xaba hails from South Africa. He makes his own take on Maskandi (Zulu folk music) music, mixing it with the avant-garde. Nigwu Shwabada his new album. It translates as I Am with Shwabada, Shwbada being a spiritual lineage. Features an 18 minute improvised track recorded with saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings of Sons of Kemet and Shabaka & the Ancestors.
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Reviewing the amount of music I do would be loads more interesting if all vocalists were as willing to use as much of their voice as Sibusile Xaba. Your average singer does just that, sing. And while singing is nice, our voices can do so much! If you thought your synth could make loads of different sounds wait till you hear what that throat of yours can pull off.
Xaba has a wonderful singing voice, and on ‘Nigwu Shwabada’ he regularly uses it. ‘Makwane Lwande’ is one of his more straightforward performances, featuring him singing in harmony. It’s as lovely as harmony can be, but is made more powerful by the tracks that precede it. ‘Elihle’ has him opening and closing his throat, making his voicer big and small. The title track uses falsetto in the way Richard Dawson often does. And ‘Umnedi’ is a wonderful jazzy duet between his voice and his guitar, it’s fantastically experesive.
And what guitar playing! Just as expressive and playful as the singing, it mostly takes the form of finger picked triplets. He can be tender, as on gently strummed ‘Mvelo’s outro and he can cut loose. If you need proof listen to the startling 18 minute ‘Phefumula’ which pits Xaba’s voice and guitar playing against Shabaka Hutchings saxophone. Xaba plays his guitar every way you can imagine, while Hutchings goes a bit more free form than he has done recently. The two have a fine understanding, and have created one of the most exciting pieces of improvised music I’ve heard all year.
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