Nduduzo Makhathini Announces ‘uNomkhubulwane’

South African pianist, composer, healer, and philosopher Nduduzo Makhathini has announced the June 7 release of his third Blue Note album uNomkhubulwane.

The transcendent three-movement suite—which pays homage to the Zulu Goddess uNomkhubulwane and explores Africa’s tragic history of oppression—features Makhathini’s trio with bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell le Pere on bass and drummer Francisco Mela.

The album is available to pre-order now on the Blue Note Store on exclusive color vinyl, black vinyl, CD, or digital download. Listen to the opening track “Omnaya,” below.

Since making his international debut for Blue Note in 2020 with Modes of Communication: Letters From the Underworlds, Makhathini has earned widespread acclaim for the genuinely spiritual transcendence of his music.

For Makhathini, a Zulu healer and educator who has delved deeply into the histories and traditions of his ancestors, improvised music has never been merely about aesthetics or idioms.

As the New York Times put it when naming Modes of Communication one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2020: “In a moment when spiritual jazz has become a dangerously buzzy concept, trust a musician who has truly devoted his life to divination practices.”

uNomkhubulwane travels beyond any existing notion of music-making to offer his most profound vision of creative mysticism yet. Here the pianist seeks inspiration on a wholly metaphysical plane—using sound as a way to commune with, as he puts it, “supernatural voices.”

To say it another way, rather than relying on the celebrated work of his American and African jazz heroes, or even on the probing research in his academic fields of study, Makhathini opts here to tap into the pure essence of being—an otherworldly effort that involved, “listening-hearing-sensing and establishing a relationship with an ‘elsewhere’ through some guidedness.”

Throughout uNomkhubulwane, Makhathini acts as both a futurist and an ancient, venturing into the unknown by exploring concepts that return him to the dawn of time.

Remarkably, he has crafted an inviting, immersive listen that should once again impress devotees of John and Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, classic South African jazz, Makhathini’s friend and collaborator Shabaka Hutchings, and other intrepid musical voyagers.

uNomkhubulwane features the pianist’s trio—an intuitive unit whose extensive touring has spanned the globe over the past year—with Zwelakhe-Duma Bell le Pere, a bassist of South African descent who was born and raised in the U.S.; and the Cuban-born drummer Francisco Mela, a best-of-generation musician recognized for his work with Joe Lovano, Kenny Barron, McCoy Tyner and other lions.

Pre-order uNomkhubulwane.

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