Shock at death of jazz musician

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Sep 6, 2006

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South Africa's jazz community has been rocked by the death of one of the country's top musicians, Moses Khumalo, who has died at the age of just 26.

West Rand police are investigating a case of suicide after Khumalo was apparently found hanging from the roof of his townhouse by his girlfriend on Monday.

Police spokesperson Captain Siphiwe Ndlovu said Khumalo's girlfriend said she last saw him on Friday and became worried when he failed to answer his phone.

Ndlovu said she then went to his townhouse, where she found him dead.

Tragically, Khumalo's death is eerily similar to that of his mentor and namesake, pianist Moses Molelekwa, who also committed suicide.

Bassline director Brad Holmes battled to find the words to describe Khumalo's contribution to the music industry. "I met him in 1996. He was still very young. He came to our jam sessions. He and Moses Molelekwa entertained us a lot. When they played, everybody listened," Holmes said.

Selaelo Selota was one of the first musicians to express his condolences to the Khumalo family. While the two never played in the same band, Selota said he had noticed Khumalo's talent while he was performing at jazz sessions in New Orleans in 2001.

"After Moses performed, everyone wanted to record his music. That was the most amazing thing. I also know a similar offer was made in France in 1997. His death has really baffled me," Selota said.

Equally disturbed were Damon Forbes and Don Khalid, managing director and marketing and publicity manager of Khumalo's recording company, Sheer Sound.

Khumalo made his name playing with the great Molelekwa. At the time of his death he had established himself as a top solo artist.

"It is with deep sense of sadness and pain that we announce the passing of one of the finest and most promising young jazz musicians to have emerged from South Africa. The untimely death of Moses Khumalo, or 'Moss' as he was affectionately known to all, came as a huge shock," Forbes and Khalid said in a statement.

Khumalo, the son of Pauline and John Khumalo, was born in Soweto on January 30, 1979.

His debut album Mntungwa was released in 2002 and it won him the best newcomer prize at the South African Music Awards.

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