From a young age, Vuma Levin had a relationship with music that was different to that of his friends.
“I remember as a teenager, I’d listen to songs that I loved over and over again all afternoon when I got home from school and my friends thought it a bit weird and crazy.”
The 33-year-old went to a school that didn’t have a music programme so his initial plan was to study sociology or political sciences.
But in matric, after listening to a CD by the late jazz guitarist Johnny Fourie and watching Woody Allen’s movie, Sweet and Lowdown, he fell in love with the way the guitar was played.
“It sparked something in me that maybe this is something I’d love to do.”
In 2009, Levin was selected as the guitarist in the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band, which culminated in a performance at the Grahamstown Jazz Festival and later at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival.
He went on to attend the prestigious Conservatorium van Amsterdam.
He has performed at festivals across the world and together with top musicians in South Africa and abroad.
With his previous three albums, Levin focused on social commentary on the country and with this fourth album Antique Spoons, his focus is less on the political.
“I wanted it to be more poetic and metaphoric. The album basically takes as its starting points nine stories that happened in my life and then I wrote compositions around those stories and the telling of those stories reveal deeper truths about the political landscape of post-apartheid South Africa, both at home and globally.”
Levin will be performing his album Antique Spoons: Chapters on Love, Loss and the Politics of Memory at the Wits Theatre on February 29.
“This special project is very close to my heart. It took almost two years to compose this music and I’m very proud of the outcome,” he said.
The jazz guitarist will perform alongside South African and Dutch musicians including Sisonke Xonti, Bokani Dyer, Romy Brauteseth and Jeroen Batterink.
“Ultimately what I’m always trying to search for is making people feel music with the same degree of emotion and immediacy I felt when I was 16. In the process of feeling the music they will be able to connect with the heavier deeper political message that lies underneath the music.
“That’s always my primary purpose, to make people feel some sort of deep emotional response that allows them to connect with themselves and humanity.”