I just got off the phone with my friend Mac McKenzie, one of the most creative, original, and brilliantly off-center musicians ever to walk the streets of Cape Town (as anyone in the know will tell you). We were talking, among other things, about the upcoming premiere of his Goema Symphony No. 1.
A lot of people are going to find the idea of Mac writing a symphony surprising, to say the least. After all, he's best known as one of the mad geniuses (the other was Hilton Schilder) behind the Genuines, one of the few rock bands that can honestly be called revolutionary. In fact, the symphony is another moment in Mac's life-long exploration of goema, the traditional music of Cape Town.
Mac McKenzie. (Photo copyright John Edwin Mason, 2010.)
Both the Genuines and a later band, the Goema Captains of Cape Town, played goema rock, goema jazz, goema pop, and goema just-about-everything-else-under-the-sun. What's important isn't simply that they did it; what's important is that they did it and made it all sound good. This wasn't a haphazard mish-mash of musical styles. It was a carefully prepared, masterfully seasoned musical gumbo.
(Click directly on the poster to see a larger version.)
Over the last couple of years, I've heard bits and pieces of the symphony, in rehearsal and in concert. I've liked where it's going, and it breaks me heart that I won't be in Cape Town to hear the premiere.
I can guarantee this: You will never have heard anything quite like it, and you'll want to hear more. This will be one very tasty Cape Town gumbo, or, more properly, Cape Town bredie.
Here's a nice video of Mac talking about it all.
The event takes place on Saturday, the 28th, at the SABC Studios Auditorium, on Beach Road, in Sea Point, Cape Town, at 8:00 pm. (There's always plenty of free on-street parking nearby.)
You can find more information about the concert, here , or by calling (079) 726 3582.
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Paul Sedres recently added these comments. They deserve a place in the body of this post:
Mac McKenzie occupies a seat in the front row of groundbreakers & precious musical thinkers in Cape Town & South Africa. His new work Goema Symphony No.1 is another significant step he is taking in enriching the language of an epoch of music from the port city of Cape Town. He is one of the great guardians and visionaries of the goema style, which emerged from a joyous mixed masala of sounds with its roots in Carnival music that goes back well over a century. The scope of this work may yet make it a revolutionary chapter in the evolution of the form.
With his musical vision and creativity McKenzie is inventing the future of folk music from the Cape. Much of this has evolved for the last few years out of Mac's modest, yet AMAZING Composers' Workshop in the backyard of his Cape Flats home. His eyes see beyond the horizon and he is worthy of great respect.
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Goema is also spelled ghoema. It's pronounced goo-muh.