3 March 2016

Tanzania: Jazz Sessions Colour Dar Music Nite

Coming from France to have two concerts here, turned out to be a lot more than the Samy Thiébault Jazz Trio had expected. This they realised, even before climbing on stage, for the first of these performances. Soon after arrival here last week Monday, they found out their host, the local French Embassy, had made some additional arrangements for them.

Now two days after their arrival, they were to have a workshop, with student musicians of the Muda Africa (MA) music school in the Mikocheni suburbs of Dar es Salaam. It turned out that the visitors were so impressed with what they saw, at this workshop that they started looking for a way of bringing it on stage. The opportunity to fulfil this desire actually came last Thursday, at the Alliance Francaise here in the City Centre.

It was then that the visiting trio had the opportunity of hearing how the MA students handled what they had taught them. They also got the opportunity to join the students for one jam session, as a way of welcoming them on stage, then the visitors were left to continue with the repertoire they had prepared for local music lovers, before leaving the country on Friday evening.

When the 'Daily News' got a chance to talk with Thiébault, he admitted having a special love for such concerts, where nothing is planed but musicians coming together to play music with "love and happiness".

This is why, he added gives people like him extra pleasure doing their work. Having heard the visiting Jazz saxophonist say this opened a desire to know what the MA young musicians could be getting for such musical encounters.

The music school's Project Manager, Carola Kinasha, helped fill the gap. "We encourage our students to fuse what they have traditionally, which is theirs with different types of music. So whenever we get an opportunity to have somebody, who is playing something which is not basically Tanzanian, we like them to learn from these musicians.

This is the second Jazz trio that has actually done this kind of thing with them," Kinasha explained earlier this week. According to her the establishment's teachers believe such opportunities, to get into a jam session, gives their young musicians the chance to experience something new because they don't teach Jazz there. However, they do get the opportunity to listen to some Jazz recordings but not actually the chance to be taught Jazz per say.

Therefore, for the establishment it's a great opportunity to have people, like Samy and his trio from France, to give them a little extra, in terms of knowledge and exposure in music.

Having their young musicians learn to fuse their music with others, Kinasha says is also important because it's not possible realistically to play a Makonde tune, for example the way it was played in the past and still capture a big crowd with it.

But if this same piece of music is taken and mixed with what other people are used to, it becomes easier to not only take the music further but attract a bigger audience.

"For me, I believe that even in music there is revolution and it does not just come out of nowhere, you have to work on it," she added then gave an example of the late Huko Zawose.

She pointed out that when the late Zawose started playing Gogo music they were only using four types of Zeze, with one to four strings, which he would play like a violin. Then when he started going outside and meeting other people, he still wanted to maintain his Gogo style but started to create something bigger, which is now known as the famous "Zawose Zeze", which has more keys and can be plucked.

This made it easier for him to work with people like Peter Gabriel. Put another way, Kinasha maintains working with fusion gives the musician more room. This she maintains is the kind of revolution local musicians should be looking at.

Playing locally styled instruments is good but it is necessary to be able to play them with instrumentalists from other countries. It is necessary to think outside the box and let oneself go and learn other types of music to get more room to create for a wider audience.

She admitted liking and enjoying traditional music in its raw form but this needs to be improved. When it comes down to Jazz, she laughed and reminded the 'Daily News' that it came from right here in Africa.

Therefore, when one listens to certain instrumentation it can be heard to be a developed form of what is here now. Although she is very appreciative of musicians coming from Europe, she would also like to see some coming from other countries in Africa for a similar opportunity. Before leaving the country on Friday evening Thiébault told the 'Daily News' he felt much more than happy.

He referred to the experience as being "very rare" for him to share a stage with musicians, who have "very different professional curves with the rhythms, melody and overall sounds".

"I learnt a lot of things in an atmosphere of love, while sharing beautiful music," he added. At the end of their repertoire on Thursday he and his drummer, Philippe Soirat, joined three musicians from the Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA): Mohammed Issa Matona on alto saxophone and violin, Adel Dabo on electric bass and Quanun player Gora Mohamed Gora.

Together they gave a recitation of Siti Bint Saad's "Asha Rejea" at the end of the performance. In fact the acclaimed French saxophonist even had a solo during this presentation.

He told the 'Daily News' afterwards such feats are possible once the musicians concerned know and follow the basic rules of music. However, he also admitted that he was only able to do something like a Jazzman, which might be found acceptable but if he had the time to learn more about Zanzibar music, it would have been a very different solo.

Thiébault said he will be taking back to France the willingness to come back here, so that he can be around people, who are "very much intense and sincere" about their music. On this note the DCMA Artistic Director, Matona, said he is going to re-emphasize to his students in Zanzibar the importance for musicians to listen until they hear one thing, which will get them into the song and keep them in it.

"The other thing is the importance for those capable to organize such events on the Island, so musicians can get the chance to play, which will lead to growth of the music and employment for the musicians," Matona added.

Apart from taking back to France a suntan, the visiting drummer, Soirat told the 'Daily News' he will tell those there he met people, who have a great feeling for music. On the other hand the young quanun player, Gora, said he felt extremely good because he was able to meet and play with highly professional musicians, which he was not expecting could happen.

From the above expressions it can be seen that it was not only the Samy Thiébault Jazz Trio, who were brought here especially to grace the celebrations of their embassy's third edition of the French- Tanzania Circle (CFT), who found the time here memorable.

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