Don Laka.Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Don Laka.Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Legendary Don Laka swings back to his kwaai-jazz roots

By Amanda Maliba Time of article published Jul 8, 2019

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Jazz musician and record label executive, Don Laka, has released a kwaai-jazz fusion album after an eight-year hiatus from the uniquely South African genre he coined.

Laka describes kwaai-jazz as a fusion of South African music styles including kwaito, kwela and marabi with jazz to form a soulful sound.

His album, titled Passions, is an 11-track offering that is set to produce hits similar to Neptune from the Supernova album and Kassie Street. 

Laka revealed it took less than a month to put together 'Passions', which he hopes will win the hearts of the youth - and introduce them to the broader jazz genre, like he did in the 90s when he released his blend of kwaai-jazz. 

Although he has released other jazz albums in-between his kwaai-jazz projects, he says he was inspired to ignite the love of jazz amongst the younger generations. 

“In the late 80s and early 90s jazz music was not widely played on radio - or anywhere else - in South Africa for nearly 20 years. I needed a way to bring jazz to young people. 

"Since jazz consists of different categories of music, like blues and Japanese jazz, among others, I wanted something that South Africans could identify with,” said Laka who describes this album as a reflective and personal body of work that exposes him and his relationship with music.

“The aim of the album is to take jazz back to where it was, at its highest, and bring young people closer to this uniquely South African genre, kwaai-jazz. I’m very lucky that at age 60, I am still full of music.

“I find that sitting down to compose music gets easier as I get older, unlike other artists who admit to struggling with the writing process. Passions blends a touch of gospel music with jazz.”

Laka has collaborated with and written hits for acts like Mafikizolo and produced the late international icon Hugh Masekela’s Grammy-nominated album, Jabulani.


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