Malcolm Jiyane Tree-O: True Story review – emotive South African jazz with a bite

(Mushroom Hour/New Soil)
The latest album by Jiyane, of collective Spaza, wades into darker territory to reflect the reality of poverty in the country

The South African jazz scene has exploded with fresh talent in recent years, from artists such as Johannesburg collective Spaza, who have developed an urgent form of social consciousness free jazz, to pianist Thandi Ntuli’s minimal and affective melodies and drummers Asher Gamedze and Tumi Mogorosi’s thrashing maximalism.

At the softer end of the spectrum sits trombonist and Spaza member Malcolm Jiyane. Harking back to the country’s popular jazz pioneers in the mid-tempo, melodically rich work of Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela, Jiyane’s 2021 debut Umdali found its strengths in subtlety, building bright, emotive soundscapes from group vocals, horn fanfares and undulating rhythms.

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