Herbie Tsoaeli will perform at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with his quartet African Time Meeting Legends Overtime. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – Having spent more than three decades making music as the preferred side man to internationally celebrated jazz artists, bassist Herbie Tsoaeli will perform at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) with his quartet African Time Meeting Legends Overtime.

With this collective, Tsoaeli will present new creations plus songs from his 2013 SAMA Best Jazz Album winner, African Time.

That album marked Tsoaeli’s debut as a band leader and he presented a memorable concert on the jazz festival’s Rosies stage in 2012, drawing on the album’s material.

Tsoaeli’s follow-up album, African Time Quartet in Concert, was released in 2014 and also nominated for a SAMA for Best Jazz Album.

This time, alongside jazz virtuosos Sydney Mnisi (tenor sax), Feya Faku (flugelhorn & trumpet), Andile Yenana (piano) and Kevin Gibson (drums), Tsoaeli will pay tribute to the musicians who came before him.

Each of the artists are sought-after session musicians, band members, composers and arrangers and together they use the complexity and art of jazz to tell a post-modern South African story while also acknowledging the past.

Tsoaeli refers to African Time Jazz as an ethos and value that directs his life. “It is the music of the present and the future, guided by spirits, energies and vibrations from the past.

There is no time limit. There is no strict structure and deadline. There are no written rules or barriers;” he says.

“It is a magic that comes naturally without forcing or directing. Instead, it flows and is inspired from the soil and soul of Africa - that in turns inspires its own unique elements of creativity and expression.”

While the concept of African Time Jazz may be influenced by the global sound of jazz, it is very much an African statement because as Tsoaeli explains, he wants to sound like himself and create his own sound but is influenced by those he listened to and played with.

“I am not the first one. I am following in the footsteps of the great bass players. I honour the legacy of jazz players like Johnny Dyani, Johnny Gertse, Martin Mgijima, Victor Ntoni, Spencer Mbadu, Ernest Mothle, Tony Saudi, Basil Moses and Big T Ntsele among others;”

“You search, search, search until you find your voice and I am still searching,” says Tsoaeli.

While the availability of musicians dictates the make-up of the group he plays with, this particular line-up for the CTIJF is deliberate, yet natural because these are people Tsoaeli knows have devoted themselves to the art of jazz over time.

“The aim is to go back to the fundamentals in search of sounds and experiences over the years - these artists need no introduction as they lead their projects respectfully. African Time Jazz will be a point of reference for departure, as we will be travelling to various destinations on this historic path and concert.”

* African Time Meeting Legends Overtime will perform on the CTIJF’s exclusive Rosies stage on Friday March 29. Book your ticket at www.computicket.com

Cape Times