Mbare trio revives Jazz music in Zimbabwe

By Sharon Kavhu

HARARE-RENOWNED Zimbabwean Jazz golden oldies group, ‘Mbare Trio’, put on a splendid performance which marked the revival of Jazz music with a township feel last week at Chez Zandi’s Bistro and Wine Bar in Harare.

The group, made up of three elderly men in their early 70s, left the Zimbabwe Jazz Community sessions’ audience mesmerised after their act at ‘Back 2 Jazzics’.

Unlike other jazz groups which do renditions of international jazz icons such as American fusion and urban Jazz composer, Paul Kackson Jnr or South African singer-songwriter and guitarist Jonathan Butler, Mbare Trio performed tracks from the 1960s.

Friday Mbirimi, 73, one of the band members, told The Southern Times that his group enjoys reviving Jazz music with a Township feel.

“I love Jazz music, we grew up with it and it has been one of the most popular genres for entertainment.

“So after this show, it feels like a rejuvenation of the genre and as a group we enjoy reviving jazz music with the township feel.

“It makes our acts different from others,” said Mbirimi.

“We started doing Jazz music in the 1960s when we were still young boys.  During that time, we were living in the colonial era and it was a taboo to compose or start our own music genre, as such we would copy white people’s music including Jazz.”

His younger brother, Lovejoy Mbirimi, 69, and family friend William Kashiri, 72, are the other members of the group.

The Zimbabwe Jazz Community’s Back 2 Jazzics series is a weekly Jazz event held at Chez Zandi’s Bistro and Wine Bar. It is becoming more and more popular with lovers of real Jazz music.

Founding board member of The Jazz Community, Tinashe Mukarati, told The Southern Times that the weekly sessions have hosted numerous Zimbabwean Jazz artists and groomed a good number of lesser known musicians into notable Jazz artists.

“The Zimbabwe Jazz Community is open to any serious Jazz musicians, both professional and amateur. Each week, the selected artists are assigned with a specific theme to play to,” said Mukarati.

“The platform encourages musicians to push boundaries and tackle some serious Jazz music from around the world, including the original compositions of local Jazz musicians.”

He added: “Jazz is a culture that has been slowly dying away in Zimbabwe and we formed this platform to counter this trend. Since its establishment in May, there has been clear evidence that Jazz is a genre that is well appreciated in this country.”

The weekly concerts that are held every Sunday from 3PM at Zandi have seen a mixed crowd of people coming through, with a good number of them being regular attendees to the event.

“We intent to include hosting regular Jazz workshops around the country and annual Jazz Festival aimed at promoting local Jazz artists. However, the organisation is currently looking for funding to enable it to successfully pursue its objectives,” said Mukarati.

Mukarati said the artists to perform on each edition are screened and selected according to their ability to play and willingness to explore Jazz in its pure form as well as their passion and commitment to the Jazz                 genre.

The Zimbabwe Jazz Community is a non-profit making organisation aimed at reviving and promoting the Jazz culture in Zimbabwe.