Nduduzo Makhathini

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Nduduzo Makhathini is one of the most important musicians in South African jazz. He’s made eight albums as a leader so far, and is also a member of the group Shabaka and the Ancestors, led by Shabaka Hutchings, who was on this podcast way back in January 2018. Makhathini was in New York in September to perform with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which is when this interview was recorded. We were supposed to meet in person at the Jazz at Lincoln Center offices, but that didn’t happen, so we talked by phone the following day, which is what we’re discussing at the beginning of the interview, when he’s apologizing. Makhathini has just signed with Blue Note, and will be releasing an album through that label early next year.

In this conversation, we talk about his music, his spirituality, about South African jazz — not only legends like Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim but also the current state of the scene. We talk about his friendship and collaboration with Shabaka Hutchings, and about the issue of representation, of having to be a stand-in for all of South African jazz. He’s a very, very interesting guy with a tremendous breadth of knowledge, and I think you’ll really enjoy this conversation.

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Music heard in this episode:

Nduduzo Makhathini, “Amathambo” (Ikhambi)

Nduduzo Makhathini, “Umthakathi (1st Movement)” (Ikhambi)