Mokoomba electrifies Alliance Francaise

Internationally acclaimed Mokoomba performing at Alliance Francaise de Harare last Friday.

It goes without saying that Mokoomba ranks among the best live music acts to emerge from Southern Africa. Their appearance at Alliance Francaise de Harare’s weekly “Friyay” music showcase this past Friday offered music enthusiasts a total live music package.

The explosively talented Afro-fusion outfit has for over a decade combined its individual instrumental and vocal brilliance to create a unique sound that has left both local and global audiences spellbound. Their journey is the embodiment of pure musicianship. From humble beginnings in the tourist resort of Victoria Falls to performing at Book Café and various small venues in Harare, to induction into the Afropop Worldwide Hall of Fame (2018) and headlining Womad (World of Music, Arts and Dance).

Listening to Mokoomba is a journey through a harmony of sound and emotions and a roller coaster of emancipating vibe.

However, their live shows are a different encounter. Music mastery is combined with well-choreographed dance moves and the storytelling of Mathias Muzaza.

Their in-depth understanding of multiple genres has propelled them to international acclaim, including topping the World Music Charts Europe and the Transglobal World Music Charts with their 13-track self-produced LP, Tusona: Tracings in the Sand (2023).

The ability to intricately fuse various music elements in their compositions, while remaining deeply rooted in their traditionally grounded ChiTonga, ChiChewa and Luvale sounds, has earned them admiration and respect from both music enthusiasts and fellow artists.

Fresh from sharing the stage with the iconic Rolling Stones at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in Louisiana, United States, and despite being jetlagged, Mokoomba went on to deliver a solid presentation that left attendees in awe.

The dance floor-filling song Nyansola, with its infectious keyboard chords and pulsating bassline perfectly complementing Muzaza’s powerful vocals, had the crowd entranced and hitting the dance floor. As the song reached its climax, keyboardist Phathisani Moyo delivered a thrilling solo on the keys, followed by Muzaza’s invitation to the audience to join in the chorus, to which they responded with unbridled enthusiasm.

In the song Nyaradzo, from their 2017 release Luyando (Outhere Records), Mokoomba exhibits their versatility and dexterity by applying Shona lyrics to the vocal and dance-oriented genre of Imbube, a form of acapella music with elements of Ndebele culture and tradition.

A favourite among most of their fans, the enchanting ballad is a statement of love by an admirer who declares his unwavering love to a humble yet beautiful girl who stays far beyond the mountain. He vows to take her hand in marriage.

Many fans may not be aware that the deep voice that powerfully grips the backing vocals in the band’s acapella songs, including the song Khwel’intaba (Climb that Mountain) is from drummer Coster Moyo. His beat boxing skills also rise to the surface in the song Njoka.

In the song Njawane, Trust Samende’s expressive guitar skills and Tinotenda Zingapeta’s roving bass lines take centre stage with Samende showcasing a deft touch on the strings in a thrilling collaboration. Multi-instrumentalist and drummer Othnell Moyo briefly joined and took over the congas, adding his flair to the performance.

The show was wrapped up with the introduction of the groovy, chart-topping hit Nzara Hapana, which claimed the top spot in Classic263 Radio’s 2023 Top 50 Chart Show. The band also showcased their impressive instrumental range as they sampled songs from the late Dendera music legend Simon Chimbetu and his son Sulumani, incorporated regional influences even, including soukous from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I can confidently say that the show was world-class as always,” guitarist and music producer Mono Mukundu wrote on his Facebook page.

Besides performing at the prestigious New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival, band manager Marcus Gora told IndependentXtra that the highlights of the US tour also included a performance at the Global Arts Live annual gala dinner, which featured international star Angelique Kidjo. The other was the Festival Internationale de Louisiane in the city of Lafayette.

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