Saturday, March 10, 2007


Pops & Dizu duo! Traditional for the future!

It’s been a hectic few days, keeping me from filling you in on Pops Mohamed’s stay here with us. Pops had needed a bit of a break, and so Lenny invited him to come and stay for a bit of creative relaxation. Relaxing we did at big fires every evening in my garden, and creative because Pops has seen his wish for a collaboration with Dizu Plaatjies come to fruition.

Pops and Dizu are two of South Africa’s most special experts and internationally recognized musicians for the part they play in what I consider to be the continual evolution of Southern African culture.

Dizu, who got his career going with Cape Town’s favourite sons Amampondo, has soared since going solo and focusing on his own musical project Ibuyambo. Ibuyambo is a show-piece of instruments and insight into the cultures that made use of them, and of course sounds that are traditional, but always changing.

Pops too has been at the forefront of capturing, and nurturing indigenous sounds, and with his passion for jazz, and modern electronic mixes, giving these sounds a new life by introducing them to younger audiences. I mean Pops regularly appears with, and has recorded, the San Bushmen of the Kalahari, which when you combine with a sax, and maybe a DJ changes this music into the most ancient modern trance dance available to us! And apart from the Mbira, the Uhada and Urhube being some of Pops choice instruments, he is also South Africa’s only recognized Kora player!

Now imagine combining this knowledge; by fusing this experience and letting them be backed by a full orchestra…

It is just mind-blowing how this is going to take the world by storm!

Already this week there has been one request for a performance later this month; and there hasn’t even been a rehearsal! Pops went to spend the day with Dizu at U.C.T.’s College of Music, and was immediately asked to come back soon to present Master classes – which will also be a perfect platform for us to start marketing this very exciting duo.

Later yesterday afternoon, after a cool beer at Tiger’s Place in Langa, I was fortunate to sit and watch Pops tune Dizu’s new Kora from scratch (that's its case pictured right - not a coffin!). Made in the U.K. for Dizu, the strings had never been tuned, and Pops is the only man in the country who could do it. So listening to the first plucks that sounded like those street curio Castrol tin guitars, to Pops strumming that Kora as if you were listening to the angels playing your tune! It is so delicate and calming. Dizu said that if we hadn’t pulled Pops he would have probably played the whole night away!

While we were there, some of the kids were playing in Dizu’s rehearsal room. It’s a room filled with drums of all kinds, pipes, bags all lumpy with Kudu horns, marimbas and mbiras. A little later a few members of Ibuyambo, including Xolani who was part of the group that appeared at Red Bulls Hangar 7 in Austria, came in and showed us what they do in their spare time… make wonderful music!

Pops has gone back to JHB; but his energy is going to stay awhile longer – it is always so great to listen and learn from one so knowledgeable!

Hayta da Pops!

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