Jonas Gwangwa, Trombonist and Anti-Apartheid Activist, Dies at 83

By | January 29, 2021
Jonas Gwangwa, Trombonist and Anti-Apartheid Activist, Dies at 83

Jonas Gwangwa, Trombonist and Anti-Apartheid Activist, Dies at 83

As quickly as he may play, Mr. Gwangwa was swept up within the jazz growth in Sophiatown, a racially blended Johannesburg neighborhood the place a vibrant youth tradition emerged within the postwar years.

Along with Mr. Masekela and the saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, he journeyed to Cape City to hunt out Greenback Model (later generally known as Abdullah Ibrahim), a younger piano phenom whom musicians in each cities have been speaking about. After they discovered him, the Jazz Epistles have been born: six blazing younger abilities, all fascinated by American bebop however intent on giving voice to the cosmopolitan creativeness of younger South Africans.

In 1960, police within the Sharpeville township massacred a gaggle of protesters in opposition to apartheid restrictions. A harsh authorities crackdown adopted in all realms of society. After touring with “King Kong” in London, Mr. Gwangwa remained overseas, ultimately shifting to New York to enroll on the Manhattan Faculty of Music.

He roomed with Mr. Masekela for a time and have become more and more lively within the milieu of A.N.C.-aligned expatriate artists. He helped to edit the speech that the poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, an outdated good friend, wrote for the vocalist and activist Miriam Makeba to learn earlier than the United Nations in 1963. He was the arranger of a Grammy-winning album by Ms. Makeba and Harry Belafonte, and he carried out on the 1965 “Sound of Africa” live performance at Carnegie Corridor, alongside Mr. Masekela, Ms. Makeba and others. He additionally led his personal ensembles, together with African Explosion, which launched one album, “Who?” (1969).

Mr. Gwangwa’s residence in New York turned a gathering floor for fellow musicians and activists, fondly known as “the embassy.”

In 1976, after a stint in Atlanta, Mr. Gwangwa moved along with his household to Gaborone, Botswana, the place he based Shakawe, a gaggle of exiled South African jazz musicians, and have become a member of the Medu Artwork Ensemble, an interdisciplinary collective engaged within the anti-apartheid wrestle. In 1977, he appeared in Lagos, Nigeria, on the Second World Black and African Pageant of Arts and Tradition, generally known as Festac, a historic gathering of representatives from across the African continent and throughout the diaspora. Taking within the vary of expertise available, he determined to arrange the South African performers right into a unified multidisciplinary manufacturing. They have been successful.

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