MICK RAUBENHEIMER’S Round Corners is an ongoing series of interviews in which artists are invited to wax lyrical about their greatest influences and loves in the worlds of art. He sat down with the lovely guitarist and singer Jason Tamba, co-founder of Cape Town’s Afro Fiesta and member of acclaimed international humanitarian collective Playing For Change, to talk influence and inspiration.
When did you first identify as a creative artist?
My father brought a turn-table from France and we had a selection of traditional music, Congolese popular and classical music on vinyl. I learned to sing and play all those songs on my home-made 4-string guitar as a child.
A few years after this I was able to compose and sing my own songs. I still remember one of the songs that I made at the age of 12, and the innate ability I had from a young age to play anything that came to my mind.
Outside of your medium, what branch of art most stimulates you?
I am fascinated by sculpture, crafts, the art of talking in public, comedy and so on. See the image of my last craft, created last month, called Harvesting.
Which artist/s in said discipline have significantly inspired you, and why?
My uncle Tamba Ndembe with his abstract sculptures. He inspired me emotionally to find messages in them. In the following picture, I am sitting next to one of his works.
But Louis de Funès, a French actor and comedian, along with Charlie Chaplin are on the menu too – The former could be very intense, while Chaplin was more gestural, more physical comedy, but their distinct messages came across equally clearly to the public.
I am also deeply moved by African dramaturgies.
What, to you, is art’s most important function?
The most important function of art is the awareness of emotions. It unites us and aids our mindfulness. It can take you to the past, bring you back to the present and can prevent (negative aspects of) the future. It fits in with everything.
Local creatives (in any medium) that currently excite you?
I am actually amazed by listening to the voice of my daughter Nova! She is only 7 and has already understood how to use her voice! She is so in tune.
What specific work – be it in literature, music, or visual art – do
you return to again and again, and why?
I am digging on Jean Bosco Muenda (from the Congo, my country of birth) and Eboa Lotin (from Cameroon) and trying to find ways to bring back the same style in the market to inspire the young generations.
Any current project you’re unveiling/wrapping up?
Right now, there is a style I would like to introduce to the world, I call it ‘Raggarumba’. It’s a mixture of rumba and reggae. Me, fellow musician Mermans and Afro Fiesta have two albums already recorded in this new style.
Afro Fiesta play at MosJazz 2019 which happens from 17 to 20 January 2019 at De Bakke Santos Resort in Mossel Bay.
Musician: Jason Tamba Afro Fiesta band
Round Corners: Playing For Change Jason Tamba
Mosjazz 2019 tickets Mossel Bay: At the Fork and Train
Mosjazz tickets: Weekend pass R460, day pass R175, weekend pass for minors (12 – 18) R230, under 12s free. https://www.quicket.co.za/events/62676-the-mosjazz-festival/#/
Mosjazz 2019: 021 591 5208, firstname.lastname@example.org