Blue Note Africa

Last Spring (2022), the legendary jazz label Blue Note Records and UMG Africa launched a new brand to promote African Jazz outside of the continent. (Lire en français sur RFI)

The first release, this January 2023, is an album by South African pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini “In The Spirit Of Ntu.”

Blue Note Africa - Nduduzo Makhathini - In The Spirit Of Ntu
Nduduzo Makhathini – In The Spirit Of Ntu

South African pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini released his first album for Blue Note Records, Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds, in 2020.
The lead track “Yehlisan’uMoya” (“Spirit Come Down”) expresses “a search for the light of the ancestral realms and an acknowledgement of a parallel existence between a world we see and those unseen.”

The track features the vocals of the artist’s wife Omagugu Makhathini, and a band featuring alto saxophonist Logan Richardson, tenor saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane, trumpeter Ndabo Zulu, bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell Le Pere, drummer Ayanda Sikade and percussionist Gontse Makhene.

The musician is also a member of Shabaka Hutchings’ band Shabaka and the Ancestors, and played on their 2016 album Wisdom of Elders.

“Blue Note has stood the test of time by continuing to adapt but keeping its focus on discovering and introducing Jazz talent to the world,” says Sipho Dlamini, CEO of Universal Music Africa. “The opportunity to create Blue Note Africa and provide a channel for African Jazz talent to have a home in the U.S., with a dedicated and passionate team lead by a legend in his own right – Don Was, is very exciting. We can now walk the African Jazz journey, from Cape to Cairo to California.”

“African music has been a major creative tributary for nearly every album in Blue Note’s extensive catalog,” says Blue Note President Don Was. “So it’s a great honor for us to partner with Sipho and his talented Universal Music Africa team in this new endeavor. Together, we will shine a global light on the incredible music emanating from Africa today.”