Asher Gamedze :: Siyabulela

Drummer Asher Gamedze was first introduced to many Western listeners with his contributions to Angel Bat Dawid’s 2019 album, The Oracle. Her 15-minute song “Cape Town” shares a name with the South African city that Gamedze calls home, where he recorded his debut album as a bandleader. On The Corner Records recently announced the quintet’s double LP, Dialectic Soulwith the deeply resonant “State of Emergence Suite.” This sidelong three-part composition comes crashing out of the gate with Gamedze’s tumbling fills and tenor sax player Buddy Wells answering his clarion call. As the drummer explains, the suite introduces the album’s themes of enduring opposition against the violence of colonialism and capitalism. “Resistance is always in a state of emergence, never complete, never finished, always moving.”

For the second taste of Dialectic Soul, Gamedze has now shared “Siyabulela.” His version of a gospel song that is common to churches in South Africa and beyond was inspired by its performance at the memorial for a friend, the artist Pinky Mayeng. Across eight mournful minutes, the group slows its pace to a gentle sway. Singer Nono Nkoane adds her gorgeous vocals to the meditative celebration of life, before each instrumentalist takes a turn to fire up the burners and pay their own tribute. In his liner notes, Robin D.G. Kelly explains the tradition of a “homegoing,” where God takes the deceased away from this plane of existence to a place where they can be free from toil or trouble. “Siyabulela” is spiritual jazz in its most literal definition, with a sound unmoored from time and space that can provide solace to anyone saying goodbye to a loved one. words/j locke photo/Elijah Ndoumbé

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