Former Standard Bank Young Artist and two-time SA Music Award winner Tutu Puoane is back to seduce local and international music lovers with her multifaceted new album, iLanga.
The award-winning South African songbird, who is currently based in Antwerp, Belgium, says iLanga (The Sun) consists of “new songs and old songs with fresh arrangements”. [GARD align=”center”]
“This is not your usual jazz album,” the 35-year-old singer confides. “You’re going to be able to put on your dancing shoes and get down to this one.”
It’s an eclectic album, full of surprises, explains Puoane: “There’s your usual jazz material, which people kind of expect from me, but there’s also some groove-oriented pop and soul material, which is quite new for me. This album has a little bit of a different taste from what I usually do.”
iLanga features Puoane on vocals, complemented by the considerable talents of the European jazz quartet she leads, consisting of Ewout Pierreux on piano/Rhodes, Nic Thys on electric bass and Jasper van Hulten on drums and backing vocals. For this sextet recording, they are joined by Wietse Meys on saxophone and Carlo Nardozza on trumpet.
The title track of the album, iLanga, is also the first single released to local radio. Composed by Pierreux and with lyrics by Vus’umuzi Nhlapo, it features the multi-talented Kabomo alongside Puoane on vocals. Acclaimed vocal outfit Africappella are also featured guest artists on the album. [GARD align=”center”]
Another standout track on the album, Take Your Love and Keep It, was composed by the legendary Steve Kekana.
Puoane, who was named the Young Artist for music in 2004, has just clocked up a successful performance at the 2014 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg. She is now returning to Belgium to embark on an extensive nationwide tour in October, November and December, accompanied by her trusty band, and hopes to return to South Africa to perform next year.
It’s been an eventful 13 years since Puoane – who grew up in Mamelodi – completed her vocal studies at the University of Cape Town’s music college. She turned down the offer of a major recording contract to grab a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered by Dutch pianist Jack van Poll: the chance to go and study in the Netherlands to develop her skills as a jazz vocalist and performer.
She has never looked back since. Puoane has gone on to rack up an impressive international performance résumé, including Italy, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Luxemburg, Switzerland and Belgium, to which she relocated in 2004. Her South African performance roster includes the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2008, where she blew away the audience with her voice, charisma and irresistible mix of jazz, soul and African music. [GARD align=”center”]
Having honed her talents and earned respect from European musicians and audiences alike, she released two albums with her European band – bagging a SAMA in the process. Subsequently, she collaborated with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra on a tribute album to the late Miriam Makeba, titled Mama Africa, which scooped the SAMA for Best Traditional Jazz Album in 2011.
Puoane says the combination of European and African influences makes for an intriguing dynamic on her recordings. “For example, when I ask my bass player – born and bred in Brussels – to write a song for me, he doesn’t think of composing an ‘African’ song.
“What gives it an ‘African’ touch is the fact that I am African, and I’ll write a lyric in an African language that gives the song a completely different feel than having an English or French lyric.”
As for iLanga, she hopes will not be viewed as purely a “jazz” album, saying that it includes several songs that are accessible to a broader audience.
iLanga is available at stores from 15th December or can be ordered from The JazzE Store on www.thejazzestore.co.za