MATS-UP & Mbuso Khoza at National Arts Festival [Makhanda]
2 July 2022 – Leano Bar and Restaurant, Braamfontein
3 July 2022 – Le Creatif, Bryanston (private performance)
“Ivovo” is the new album of the Swiss band MATS-UP in which band leader Matthias Spillmann and his fellow musicians explore the sounds of South Africa together with singer Mbuso Khoza. They will launch the album in South Africa with two performances during the Makhanda Jazz Festival that takes place within the National Arts Festival, along with additional smaller collaborations and workshops by individual band members in the National Youth Jazz Festival.
Mbuso Khoza, who originates from Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal and is known for his rich, authentic sound, first collaborated with the band in 2021 on the recording of “IVOVO”. The collaboration exemplifies the bridge over cultural divides that jazz can produce, bringing together musicians from vastly different social and musical backgrounds.
Matthias reflects on collaborating with Mbuso on the album: “Mbuso’s voice is totally unique and extremely versatile. His melodic ingenuity and his story-telling abilities are endless, his virtuosity not being a purpose on itself. Anything he sings sounds completely natural and fresh. At the same time, he knows KwaZulu-Natal music, that of his origins, like nobody else. Mbuso brought some of [Princess Magogo’ praise] songs along and while adapting these for the band, I let myself be guided by the sounds and expressions of his voice rather than by the effective content of the songs. Thus, I tried to integrate Mbuso into the sounds of the band we developed over the years; the airs composed for him inspired solely by his great voice and spirit. Group improvisation has always been and is a key element of our music. On this album, you’ll also hear some tracks which are the result of spontaneous improvisation that happened at the recording studio.”
MATS-Up, with some different members, first performed in Makhanda in 2005. Matthias says, “South Africa’s music has always fascinated me. Little else influenced me as deeply, in a musical and a spiritual way, as the projects I had with South African artists as well as the concerts I played there.”
In its current state, MATS-UP consists of members Matthias Spillman (trumpet), Reto Suhner (sax), Marc Méan (piano], Raffaele Bossard (bass), and Dominic Egli (drums). The performances in Makhanda will deepen the collaboration with Mbuso and expand the band members’ existing connections to the music scene in South Africa. (Matthias will also perform as part of Vuma Levin’s band). The National Youth Jazz Festival, which takes place at the same time, offers a great opportunity for the band to pass on their musical know-how in an informal learning setting to younger musicians, who often come from less privileged backgrounds.
Matthias Spillmann leads his band MATS-UP since 1999. The quintet plays his compositions and has released five albums to date. MATS-UP has been nominated for “Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik”, the “BMW World Jazz Award”, won 1st price at “Moods Blues & Jazz Award” and 2nd price at “ZKB Jazzpreis”. With his quartet MAT-DOWN he produces a kind of avantgarde-ambient music. Matthias is also a member of other bands: Grünes Blatt, Lauer Large, orchest-ra-conteur, the Lucerne Jazz Orchestra and a regular guest musician with Ensemble für Neue Musik Zürich and avantgarde combo Steamboat Switzerland.
Reed player Reto Suhner participates in different formations in Switzerland and abroad. In both 1998 and 2007 he was given the cultural award of Canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Reto has played with Fabian M. Müller, Mats-Up, the Zurich Jazz Orchestra, Swiss Jazz Orchestra, Lauer Large, Martin Streule Jazz Orchestra, Herbie Kopf and Max Frankl. Since 1999 he has toured with his own Reto Suhner Quartett.
Marc Méan began studying classical piano at the Vevey Conservatory at the age of 7. From 2008-2010, he studied at the Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium of Copenhagen with professors such as Django Bates, Jacob Christoffersen, Jacob Anderskov and Søren Kjærgaard. Currently, he is working with several projects in different countries such as That Pork (CH/FR), Marc Méan Trio (DK/CH), MATS-UP (CH), David Meier’s Hunter Gatherer (CH), Paolo Thorsen-Nagel Project (DE/CH), Pauline Ganty Quartet (CH), Raphael Walser GangArt (CH) et Silvio Cadotsch OneTfu (CH).
Dominic Egli counts among the most original drummers in Switzerland. He studied with drum master Billie Brooks and broadens his wide range of expression through extended travels and studies in West Africa, Brasil and the USA. Next to MATS-UP, Dominic appears on internationally acclaimed albums with Peter Frei, Jean-Paul Brodbeck, Marcos Jimenez and Robert Lakatos amongst others.
Raffaele Bossard discoverd the accoustic bass at age 17. He has studied with Ron Carter, Jonathan Kreisberg, Heiri Känzig and Andreas Cincera and graduated from Jazzschule Luzern in 2008 with a master of arts. Currently he is also working with Dominik Egli’s Plurism, Christoph Iriger Trio, Pilgrim and the Joe Haider Quartett. During his early career he has played with Fazile “Feya” Faku, Glenn Ferris, Joey Baron, Nasheet Waits, Nils Wogram, Hayden Chisholm, Claudio Puntin, Ohad Talmor, Ziv Ravitz and Nat Su among others.
Mbuso Khoza is an award-winning vocalist and songwriter who grew up amongst the rolling hills of Eshowe in Kwa-Zulu Natal. He learnt his music early, herding his father’s cattle from the age of five by using Zulu chants to call and direct them, learning the spiritual ancestral music, and listening to the songs of the Zionists at night. In Johannesburg he sought eclectic musical experiences and, while his modern influences have been musicians like Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo and Richard Bona, this variety of experience has led to his working with musicians as varied as Thandiswa Mazwai, Sibongile Khumalo, Themba Mkhize, Carlo Mombelli and Dutch pianist Mike del Ferro. Mbuso has performed extensively in countries like Senegal, Burkina Faso, Portugal, Switzerland, France and The Netherlands and his music is a unique mix of amahubo (Zulu indigenous music) and Jazz.