Here’s a record that’s been long overdue - Afrosynth’s ‘New Horizons’, a compilation of contemporary South-African jazz sounds - the very first of its kind.
Record of the week W39 by Rogier Oostlander
In case you’ve been living under a rock for much longer than COVID-19 has lasted so far: it’s an exciting time to be alive for jazz enthusiasts, with incredible streams of forward-thinking jazz emerging from all sorts of places, South-Africa being one of the most notable.
Compiled by Mabuta bass player and allround creative force Shane Cooper (check out Mabuta’s 2018 masterpiece ‘Welcome to this World’ if you haven’t already) and Afrosynth labelhead Okapi, ‘New Horizons’ (not to be confused with the recent Bristol jazz comp of the same name) offers a perfect glimpse into the thriving local scenes in all assorted flavors.
Kyle Shepherd’s beautifully striking first chords on opener ‘Evolution part 2’ by the Benjamin Jephta Quintet alone should be enough to warrant the purchase of this veritable treasure box - even before the mindblowing trumpet an sax kick in.
Shepherd’s inspired piano playing is also key on the soul-stirring ‘Dream State’, the kind of instant classic that makes you stop in your tracks immediately, regardless of what you’re doing. It’s followed by Lwanda Gogwana’s pleasantly upbeat ‘Maqundeni’ and the extraterrestrial spirit chasing of Siya Makuzeni’s haunting ‘Out of this World’.
Other highlights on this impeccable double album compilation include the contemporary postbop sounds of Bokani Dyer’s ‘Fezile’, Vuma Levin’s short and square ‘Hashtag’, The spaced-out jazz psychedelics of Reza Khota’s ‘Lost in a Place’ and Zoë Modiga’s afro-Brazilian flavored London jazz-inspired ‘The Healer’, but I assure you there are no weak moments to be found here. ‘New Horizons’ offers a unique window into a world that’s waiting to be discovered by all.