[If you're here for the music, scroll down to the bottom of the page, then come back and read about Mac.]
What to do in Cape Town on the next two Saturday nights? Take yourself over to the SABC Auditorium, in Sea Point, of course. That's where Mac McKenzie -- always one of most exciting and unpredictable figures on Cape Town's music scene -- will lead the Goema Orchestra in the world premiere of his Table Bay Concerto in G.
For years, Mac has been creating brilliant mashups that mix goema -- the musical soul of the Cape Town Carnival -- with various other types of music, especially jazz and rock. Lately, he's been blending it with classical music, with amazing results. I was lucky enough to be in the audience for his last series of concerts with the orchestra (they coincided with the Cape Town International Jazz Festival), and I was blown away. If you care at all about new music, you'll want to be there.
[Click on the image to see a larger version.]
Here's what Mac himself has to say about the Concerto: It's “a chronological account of Table Bay as I imagine it: my impression of its evolution from the time just before the arrival of European settlers, through the time of colonialism, up to the present. I’ve borrowed from various forms such as European hymnody, classical forms and street music -– what I sometimes call tsotsi music -– and assimilated them into goema. The goema is the heartbeat of the minstrel carnival.”
Mac's music is attracting international attention. In July, he performed in Switzerland with members of the Casal Quartet and other South African musicians, including Paul Hanmer and Feya Faku. The performances were so well received that the Swiss organisers have commissioned a new work for a 25-piece orchestra, which he'll direct, in 2012, at festivals across Switzerland.
The debuts of works by guest composers Chantal Willie, Derek Gripper, Mandla Mlangeni, and Aykes Swartz are also on the program.
For more information, call (072) 500 2204 (in South Africa).
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I mentioned that Mac has been concocting mixtures of goema and other music for a long time. Besides the Goema Orchesta, my favorites are the recordings he made with Mr. Mac and the Genuines. (Mr. Mac was Mac's father and a well known Cape Town musician.) It's one part rock, one part jazz, and all parts goema. There's never been anything like it, before or since. Which is a shame, because it's killer music.
Released 02 February 1987.
Samuel "Mr Mac" McKenzie, banjo; Mac McKenzie, bass and vocals; Hilton Schilder, keyboards, percussion, and vocals; Gerard O'Brien, guitar; Ian Herman, drums.