Bheki Khoza for Sophiatown Jazz Encounters


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Bheki Khoza
Bheki Khoza

An amazing experience awaits with all-time favourite jazz legend and guitar virtuoso Bheki Khoza at Sophiatown Jazz Encounters on Friday, June 29 at 20h00.

Bhekisisa Khosa is the well-known left-handed guitarist from Umlazi, Durban, South Africa. In 1991 he received a Talent Award and scholarship to study music in America. He returned in 1995 from studying at the University of Hartford, Connecticut, with the great Jackie McClean, one of the few living legends.

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While in America, Bheki was resident with Larry Ridley’s jazz legacy playing the whole spectrum of African American music. The band was headed by Larry Ridley himself, who played with Wes Montgomery, Sonny Rollin, Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Kenny Burell, George Benson, Dexter Gordon and far too many other musicians to mention.

By the time Bheki left America he was making a name for himself playing clubs like Blue Note, Saint Mark’s Zinno’s and Smalls, a famous club often referred to as The Mecca of Jazz which has jam sessions every night to all hours. Khoza also played at the famous Shamberg auditorium in Harlem.

Bheki Khoza
Bheki Khoza

Some of the musicians he played with included Kenny Barron, Hilton Ruiz, Kirk Ligtsey, Cecil McBee, Virgil Jones, Charles Davis and Steve Davis, at Anarchy, a jam club for African music, in particular. Gigs stemming from the African connection included backing vocalist FLoxy Bee from Nigeria and Thuli Dumakude, a singer from South Africa, of Mabatha Fame.

Prior to studying in America, Bheki played with the African Jazz Pioneers, Abie Cindi, Sipho Gumede, Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Rene McClean, Victor Ntoni, Mike Makhalemala, George Lee, and Berry Rachabane, among others. He also backed South Africa’s famous songbirds, Sibongile Khumalo, Sophic Mgina, Dolly Rathebe, Abigail Kubheka, and Themi Mtshani. During this time Bheki also had his own band Thayima, which played jazz and African music, directly addressing the social conditions of the late 1980s. For this reason, the band was never recorded.

Bheki’s musical influences are many. His grandmother played Jewish harp and harmonica and enriched him with tradition of Zulu music which he then found in Phuz Shukela, Kati Elimnyama and Ngane Ziyamfiva. He was also influenced by people at wedding, funerals, in the street and shebeens. Other influences include Philip Thabane, Alan Kwela, Abdulah American Influences-Wes Montogomery, Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, George Benson and Charlie Parker.

During his early years in Durban, Bheki learnt to play solo as there were few full-time musicians to accompany him. He has wide experience and interest in small group and big band music alike.

Bheki recorded an album entitled “Asambe” in 1995, which is often aired on Radio Metro and SAfm. The album is comprised of original compositions, some of which used to be Shonilanga. Bheki also composed the African Jazz Pioneers hit “Sgaxa Mabhande”.

His recordings include guitar for Mike Makhalemela’s last “Searching”. Bheki was musical director for the Sophiatown Documentary, released in July 2003.

Bheki is musical director for the South African film production of “Drum”, a fictional account of the razing of Sophiatown. The film features a high profile international cast, new musical production selections which defined the Sophiatown sound, and many musicians who played in the bands of the time. The film is scheduled for world premiere in the spring of 2004.

Bheki is currently heading his own quartet which focuses on his many original compositions, featuring drums, piano, bass, and guitar.

Sophiatown the Mix, 71-73 Toby Street, Sophiatown, next to Westdene in Johannesburg.
Bookings: 083 550 7130/011 377 3490, Tickets R120
Bring your own drinks and snacks. We provide glasses and ice. Supervised street parking.

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