On the first Thursday of every month, various bands give free concerts in Greenmarket Square in the evening, as an extension of the City Hall Sessions (now City All Sessions). I was lucky enough to attend one on 5 September!
My friend and I joined the crowd that was spread out in front of the stage in the middle of Greenmarket Square. Native Groove Collective (NGC) was up first. This ten piece brass and percussion jazz band plays South African classics as well as original pieces, and they played on the ground of the square first, with their leader and trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni half conducting, half dancing, and then playing later.
There is just something so rich, full and satisfying about the sound of a brass band playing well. And playing our music. I could literally see the energy come out of the musicians, and I love watching the way people are drawn to them by surprise while walking down the street.
NGC is the brainchild of young trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni, a UCT graduate with a vision of bringing people, past and present, and jazz muso all-sorts together. “My intention is to create a platform for young artists to share and integrate their varied approaches to the art of performance”, he says. He leads the group and writes arrangements and original material for them. Including his experience across a range of genres, he has performed alongside the greats like Hugh Masekhela and Sipho Hotstix Mabuse. The NGC is a group of quite diverse musicians. Each musician in the band has his/her own musical pursuits as well as a commitment to the NGC. But they come together beautifully.
As the skies grew a little darker, IppyFuze came up on stage. It was a cold but still and beautiful evening, and there was a sense of nostalgia from the music, the people, and it seemed the city itself.
Ippyfuze is a hip-hop/jazz/rock/grunge/soul band. The number of slashes I’ve used in the last sentence is just the first part of their mystery, which sweeps me and my friend up through the meandering, soul bearing and often gruff voice of Siya Makuzeni, the vocalist. My first instinct in trying to understand it, that part of me that wants definition and common ground, was to receive it as grunge (this was before finding out about her trombone talents.. definitely an interesting mix).
Being one of my favourite rock genres and feeling the lack of grunge female singers in the city, I welcomed this as a much needed addition for us. But as her voice kept changing in different parts of the music, in a way that I’d go so far as to say was stylistically changing, and often, I was a bit confused, and even now I’m unsure whether to stretch my ears and mind for a mix of styles or call them on it as having a vocal style that’s a little all over the place. Having said that, standing out in the cold and listening to her voice, I think she may have been trying to do the brave thing and sing with a bad cold. The band was good at creating that gritty grunge sound. Overall, it was still music that involved the audience. It mystified us a little, and showed us some raw self- expression.
For more information on the series of concerts visit:-
– Marie-Claire De Villiers