Nduduzo Makhathin. Picture Supplied

Following his standout performance at NYC Winter Jazzfest earlier this month, the visionary South African pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini has announced an April 3 release date for his "Blue Note Records debut Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds". 

The single from his upcoming album is released under new record deal with American recording label, Blue Note Records.

Makhathini has also released the inspiriting new track "Beneath the Earth" featuring lead vocals by Msaki along with Makhathini's own voice and gently seeking piano, plus a soaring alto saxophone solo by Logan Richardson. 

The band also includes tenor saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane, trumpeter Ndabo Zulu, bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell Le Pere, drummer Ayanda Sikade, percussionist Gontse Makhene, and backing vocals by his wife Omagugu Makhathini and their children Nailah, Thingo, and Moyo. 

A previous single "Yehlisan'uMoya" (Spirit Come Down) has also been released featuring impassioned vocals by Omagugu.

"'Beneath the Earth' speaks to a way of locating our Gods and developing a language of communication with them," says Makhathini. "Similar to most cultures on the continent it references the soil (the underworlds) as our symbol of communication. 

The tune is also based on the musical style amahubo, an art form is based on Zulu praise and lament songs, or 'Zulu hymns' as it is sometimes described. Historically this particular style was popularized by the great Princess Magogo KaDinuzulu, and within a cultural context it is understood as a mode and space for preservation of significant memories of the Zulu people."

The album is available for pre-order on CD and digital formats.