Eastern Cape songstress Pinise Saul serenades Sophiatown

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Pinise Saul in concert
Pinise Saul in concert

Vocalist Pinise Saul is one of the foremost living exponents of South African jazz, with a distinctive sound and approach forged from a combination of her rural Xhosa roots in Port Elizabeth and the influence of the vibrant township music scene of the ’50s & ’60s.

She started her odyssey of exile in Boston, where she performed with artists as diverse as Bob Marley and Patti Labelle before joining the well-established London South African jazz scene some years later.

There, like many of her peers, she worked across the scene: as teacher, organiser and composer, in South African and African music combos, in gospel, in pop-music session work as well as in avant-garde European improvising ensembles.

Dudu Pukwana's Sounds Zila featuring Pinise Saul on vocals. Recorded Live At The 100 Club, London, 16th January 1981
Dudu Pukwana’s Sounds Zila featuring Pinise Saul on vocals. Recorded Live At The 100 Club, London, 16th January 1981

It was here that she began to tour, compose & record with the band Zila, and Spear, led by fiery ex-Blue Note alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana and pianist Chris McGregor

Saul knows precisely when to belt out a chorus dead on the melody and when to bend and pull the notes to make them her own. Listen to her version of Hamba on the 1989 Pukwana masterpiece Cosmics Chapter 90 and you’ll hear a song surgically detached from the memory of Victor ¬Ndlazilwane and ¬reconceived.

More recently she appeared at Brecon, Cape Town Jazz Festival, and the SA-UK Seasons. Pinise was a key composing contributor and performer on two Adam Glasser albums: Free at First which won a SAMA Award in 2010, and Mzansi, nominated at the 2012 SAMAs. Since 2009 Pinise has been the vocalist with the ‘Township Comets’ a London based band exploring the music of Dudu Pukwana and more broadly SA Township Jazz.

Pinise performs in the newest venue in Jozi – Sophiatown the Mix on Saturday January 30, opening their regular acoustic Jazz Encounters, with Bheki Khoza.

The KwaZulu-Natal-born left-hand guitarist learned his first music at his traditionalist grandmother’s knee. He credits her musical ear with teaching him to recognise the chords that worked. Now Khoza has a bachelor of music degree from the University of Hartford and an impressive record as arranger, music director and producer, as well as a player with both maskandi and jazz voices. But in Joburg’s shrinking live scene he is heard on stage too rarely and his presence, as much as Saul’s, will make this show essential listening.

Eastern Cape songstress Pinise Saul serenades Sophiatown on Saturday January 30 at 20h00.
Venue: The Mix 71 Toby Street corner Edward Road
R110 advance booking and R120 at the door.
Call Rinkie for bokings
Bring your own cooler/snaks

With thanks to Gwen Ansell for the bios.

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