South Africa Under the Stars with a Female Afro-Futurist Spin

On Sunday, August 11, Ford Theatres will be ground zero for a deep dive into musical retro-Afro-futurism as The Nonsemble presents [UP]Rising: An Afro-Future Jazz Her-Story. Ever in search of not just what’s next, but what’s next level, The Nonsemble think tank of creatives turns its attention to South Africa with a showcase that welcomes to America two dynamic female multi-instrumentalists/vocalists - Siya Makuzeni and Thandi Ntuli - who use jazz as a base to blast off into a thrilling sonic terrain steeped in dance music, electronica, neo soul, funk and more. Joining them is KATALYST [Collective], a young band of musicians based in Inglewood who have rocked stages with cutting edge talents from around the globe in their weekly residency in Venice. The air will be thick with acoustic meeting electric, jazz meeting club music, and cultures meshing in a celebration of National Women’s Day in South Africa and our fair city’s open-minded policy of uniting people through arts and culture.

[UP]Rising will be co-hosted by renowned actor/Nonsemble-cofounder Don Cheadle with DJ Garth Trinidad (host of KCRW’s Chocolate City).

Nonsemble co-founder Jason Sugars explains, “Our goal is to bring jazz and jazz musicians from around the world to reflect what America’s indigenous sound has created abroad and how it has been brought back to us. In our first event, we’re bringing a pair of young black women born and raised in South Africa to LA to show what jazz looks, feels and sounds like through their ears in today’s generation. One is Siya Makuzeni – a producer/trombonist who plays everything from dance and electronic to straight up jazz with jazz vocals in her native tongue. The other is Thandi Ntuli, a classically trained pianist who had an offer to study at Berklee as a classical musician, but opted to stay in South Africa to focus on jazz. Nonsemble is proud to be presenting them at the Ford to American audiences for the very first time.”

Thandi Ntuli

The stage will also be filled with exceptional local musicians including saxophonist Teodross Avery, keyboardist Mark de Clive-Lowe, turntablist Daz IQ of Bugs in the Attic, and singer/multi-instrumentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow who will be reprising material from a joint project that she and Thandi recorded together, but have only presented live in South Africa.

Georgia Anne Muldrow

On how he came to discover Siya and Thandi, Sugars continues, “Before I started The Nonsemble, I ran across some contemporary South African jazz while doing a project with the late, iconic Hugh Masekela and producer Stewart Levine and became curious about what was happening now. I found out by accident that - beyond jazz - they were also doing dance music and neo soul ‘out of context’: meaning they had no connection to London, LA, NYC or Detroit, they were just creating. Then Bandcamp did an article on the top three contemporary jazz acts out of South Africa. Siya and Thandi were two of the three. Right away I knew I wanted to bring them over.”

This will be a great representation of the ‘jazz/not jazz’ vibe that defines what The Nonsemble is all about. [UP]Rising is the perfect way to spend a hot August night.


by A. Scott Galloway