Pianist Zoe Molelekwa on tour
Music became the best outlet for Zoe Molelekwa

Zoe Molelekwa tours to Cape Town joined by bassist Grant Van Rooyen, drummer Bonolo Nkoane and saxman Buddy Wells writes LUVUYO KAKAZA.

Pianist Zoe Molelekwa grew up in jazz watching his late father, musician Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, performing in Johannesburg. Drawing on this source, Zoe now shapes his own musical journey, which includes a Cape Town Tour as part by the Jazz in the Native Yards series.

On Wednesday 28 August, 2019, this rising jazz star performs at The Youngblood Gallery from 8pm. On Friday, 30 August he plays the Alliance Franciase Cape Town from 7.30pm. On Sunday 1 September at Guga S’thebe from 4pm, and in the evening at Selective Hearing on Buitengracht Street from 8pm.

He will be accompanied by bass player Grant Van Rooyen and drummer Bonolo Nkoane, with special guest saxophonist Buddy Wells at all the gigs.

Growing up in artistic household Zoe Molelekwa never thought he would pursue a career in music. It is after his parents passed away, that he started composing on the piano, without formal training. Music became the best outlet for thoughts with great inspiration from home, he says.

Melodic and harmonic freedom

“My parents exposed me to great music and saw a lot of live performances, including theatre amongst other things,” says Zoe. Drawing on his childhood creativity he tried his hand at many art forms including drawing and theatre, but it is rhythm that excited him.

“What stimulated me really was rhythm. I was a ‘drummer’ before being anything else and then my father played rhythms with wonderful harmonies like percussion, but still having so much melodic and harmonic freedom, that was really inspiring”, he explains

“I didnʼt know then even that I would play piano, because it was honestly just the beauty of the music that compelled me to grab the drum sticks and jam with the band, while the drummer was playing. I would join them for rehearsals sometimes and my father didnʼt mind. He even got me my own mini drum kit, a proper one. I must have been about four years-old but it was also being exposed to all sorts of different styles of music from across the continent and abroad that he loved. My greatest dreams about life came from family, parents and many musical family members and others with really good taste in music and literature who shared stories and knowledge with me,” Zoe adds.

Zoe motherʼs father, James Mthoba was an actor and a musician who used to teach at the Federal Union of Black Arts (Fuba)- where Zoe’s  parents met.

His compositions also draw inspiration from other artists, from The Jazz Epistles to Abdullah Ibrahim, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, John Coltrane to Hotep Galeta, and the list goes on.

Encouragement from Afrika Mkhize

He says his greatest influences musically as pianist and composer has been his father and grandfather. With encouragement from pianist Afrika Mkhize, he enrolled to study music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

He is presently studying there, but was at first was reluctant to explore a career in music. “I was also overshadowed by the fact that my dad is a musician, and people thinking that I am only doing the jazz thing because my dad was a great jazz musician,” he says.

Zoe never got to know his father very well and he is reluctant to play his music live.

“I feel like I need to treat it with so much respect and sincerity, because I do not think he would have played his music in the same way today, and I see this in the different ways he performed in videos,” he says.

2019 Cape Town Tour gigs

Wed 28 August, 8pm, Youngblood Gallery, 70-74 Bree Street. Go for supper at 7pm
Friday 30 August, 7.30pm, Alliance Francaise Cape Town, Loop Street
Sun 1 Sept, 4pm, Guga S’thebe, King Langalibalele Street, Langa
Sun 1 Sept, 8pm, Selective Hearing, 189 Buitengracht Street

What: Zoe Molelekwa interview
Zoe Molelekwa tickets: www.quicket.co.za