Coming Home rocks Durban
Isak Roux, is a musical enigma. A composer who fails to fit into any convenient musical genre, born of Durban blood he is however a creative of a township like manner. He adds a simple frankness and almost comic durability to his composition. In his latest work (which much like its creator is a voracious mixture of styles and sounds) Roux once again crosses the traditional lines of those ever so well meaning genres of Jazz and gospel and a pinch of classic. Coming-Home is a gathering of talents, not prodigies.
Roux has somehow managed to balance out a 26 piece set with relative ease. Interestingly he has also avoided the use of instrumental solos rather opting for the more focused route of ensemble the result is a score that will serve well as evening music or the soundtrack to a Hollywood flick.
Narrated by Sello Maake Ka Ncube Coming Home flows between narrative and music. As Maake Ka Ncube retells the tale of a mournful longing he manages to carry an almost cliché subject with profound sensitivity. His broad voice with emphasis on single phrases over words is hypnotic.
The real find of the night however is Timothy Moloi already well established amongst South African classical music circles Moloi however still manages to unpack a few surprises. As a baritone the quality of his range can clearly be heard in Motherless child, he manages to pace and repace himself in a manner that many soloist with struggle to conjure. The song is a heavy one, but Moloi makes the musical experience much easier to access through the use of the stage. Although he occupies a small part of it he is clearly comfortable and goes about the business of reeling you in with the melodies.
Another stand out composition is Somebody is Knocking. This critic will be amongst the first to say that I do not have a soft spot for this melody in its traditional rendition. But Roux’s reimagining of the song is something of an act that can be filled under that familiar title of genius. The song is underscored by a potent cocktail of Violin and Cello flavors. The standout performance in this particular piece however comes from cellist Katlego Diamond, who’s swaying of her instrument delivers a sound slightly more attractive than the rest. She is clearly a product who comes from a tradition of Pablo Casals like experimentation.
Not to be outdone however Legendary South African Soloist Sibongile Khumalo delivers her familiar brand of Soprano. A repertoire that grapples with Opera and Gospel with relative ease. As she enters the stage she walks with humility but is clearly in another place, a place where individual notes are hard to render and all that sings-flows. She takes flight in Go tell it to the nations a delivery that perhaps would have been better served as the encore piece for the night. Khumalo is someone that simply enjoys music and her character on stage tells that. She is the type of Soprano who would be equally happy in a choir as she is as a soloist. In Give me that old time religion, Khumalo slithers beyond the reach of the lyric and has the crowd clapping and gyrating g whilst she is at it.
Despite the mixture of talents and the sources of some of the music Coming-Home is still very much a Roux composition and you can clearly hear this as he dominates the Rhythm and horns sections in De javu. As a pianist he conjures every genre possible in the space of three minutes. Working well with veteran conductor Kutlwano Masote, Roux creates a kind of music that is more South African most of the rest of the arrangements in the set. Coming home is a must see for anyone addicted to good music that is made well. Its a thoughtful and non indulgent creation and Roux will do well to keep this ensemble under his wing as long as possible.