|Masekela, Erskine stars of BGSU Jazz Week|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune|
|Thursday, 28 March 2013 10:07|
Inspired by American jazz, Masekela, on flugelhorn and vocals, took the sound of his native South Africa around the world. His blend of African, soul and jazz styles proved not only a potent musical statement, but also gave him a platform to protest the racist white regime that ruled South Africa.
Masekela will perform a Festival Series concert Wednesday, the day before he turns 74.
Growing up outside Johannesburg in South Africa, Masekela started playing piano as a youngster. He was inspired to take up trumpet when he saw the American film "Young Man With a Horn," based on the life of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke.
He played in a youth band and in the pit orchestra for "King Kong," a musical starring his future wife Miriam Makeba.
Later he formed what is credited as the first African jazz ensemble the Jazz Epistles with pianist Dollar Brand (now Abdullah Ibrahim). They performed extensively in 1959-1960, but in the wake of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and the crackdown by the apartheid regime, Masekela left his homeland, not returning until the government had fallen.
Fittingly when his homeland hosted the World Cup in 2010 he played at the opening ceremonies.
In the intervening years he celebrated both the joys of South Africa with songs such as his hit "Grazing in the Grass" as well as the fight against apartheid.
His 1980 hit "Bring Him Home" became the theme song for the international movement to free Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress.
Masekela also helped bring the sounds of South Africa to Broadway as co-creator of "Sarafina."
Last year he was reunited with Paul Simon and others including Makeba and Black Ladysmith Mambazo for a 25th anniversary celebration of Simon's Graceland tour, which culminated with a concert in South Africa's neighbor Zimbabwe.
An Interlochen Arts Academy graduate, he started playing with Stan Kenton at 17. He went on to play with the pioneering jazz fusion band Weather Report, and then Steps Ahead. Since then he has recorded with a wide array of musical talent and led more than 30 sessions as a leader, including several recently on his own label Fuzzy Music.
He appears on about 600 recordings.
He's performed with pop diva Joni Mitchell, played bebop and fusion, recorded movie soundtracks and soloed with symphony orchestras.
Jazz Week also showcases the work of BGSU students as well.
Scheduled concerts are:
• Chamber jazz ensembles, Monday at 8 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall.
• Vocal jazz ensemble, Tuesday at 8 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall.
• Masekela, Wednesday 8 p.m., Kobacker Hall. Concert tickets are $24 to $38. Contact http://bgsu.edu/arts or call (419) 372-8171.
• Erskine with jazz faculty April 4 at 8 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall.
• Erskine with Jazz Lab Band I April 5 at 8 p.m. Kobacker Hall.
All events, except the Masekela Festival Series concert, are free.
Peter Erskine videos & audio:
|Last Updated on Thursday, 28 March 2013 12:01|
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