23 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Masters Lifts Brand Higher

Upcoming jazz crooner Jean Masters' latest album, "Misi Haifanane", is a good musical project that clearly shows her determination to push her brand further. If anything, her latest album also exhibits her deep-seated passion in music, in addition to her high level of ingenuity, something you cannot miss from her two albums.

From a novice who started off as a mere backing vocalist for the late musician, Joe Masters, Jean's profile is undoubtedly growing particularly in jazz, judging by her performances during several sessions of the Women in Jazz Festivals that have been held in the last few years.

Her latest album opens with the title track, "Misi Haifanane", featuring the granddad of Zimbabwe's music, Oliver Mtukudzi. Listening to the track, you can't help but marvel at the distinct and highly intoned voice of Tuku, which blends well with Jean's voice, that has greatly improved from the time she released her debut album "Africa".

On the track, Jean chides herself for neglecting her childhood friends, during the time when her life was at its zenith.

From the laid back, soft and mellow track, the tempo increases on the next celebratory track "Africa Day", a song she penned for the annual event celebrated across Africa on May 25.

Her versatility in both lyrics and instruments is aptly captured in the seventh track, "Tomson", which features rising contemporary musician Mukudzei Mukombe, aka Jah Prayzah.

As has become the norm, Jah Prayzah's beat is fast paced and danceable while his diction is quite impeccable.

To complete the collaborations list, Jean brings back the track "Chipo Changu", which she did with dendera crooner Suluman Chimbetu on her previous album, "Africa", as a bonus track.

In the song, her voice is distinctly mellow and easily blends with Suluman's acoustic guitar, while creating room for the dendera musician to sing clearly, without interruption.

The album also comprises tracks like "Mai Ndavashungurudza", "Mandigove", "Usamanikidze Rudo", "I Don't Wanna be Alone", "Shanje" and "Africa", a bonus track from her debut album.

Although she has not yet attained the standards of international female jazz divas like Nina Simone and Ella FitzGerald, or that of the late South African Miriam Makeba, her voice intonation is quite refreshing and full of energy.

Born in Harare in 1988, Jean first tried her hand in music four years ago, with the JM Seasons Band, a move that was initially met with resistance by her parents.

However, her persistence finally paid off, after her parents allowed her to practise with the band, after they realised that she had a passion for music.

Barely a year after trying her luck in music, she went on stage during the band's many tours and fans immediately took a liking to her suave voice.

Her music is very expressive and one can almost detect the sadness, joy or even laughter in her lyrics, without necessarily gauging her facial expressions.

Jean has got an awesome stage presence, and is able to move along with her fans, whenever she is dancing

The album was recorded and mastered at KBN Studios, while the music was arranged by Knowledge Nkoma.

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