So I have been thinking quite intensely about how we set up on stage as a band and ultimately how the bandstand could be perceived as a sacred space. Some of the questions are: what informs our stage layout, how is this space shared with the fellow musicians, the audience and our ‘shadows’ in another dimension (umlozi)? I also thought a bit about how sound travels when we project through our instruments respectively. Through these questions some of our ‘standard’ stage layouts sort of made sense when I thought of it more on this sonic plane but what really inspires us is another question. I may also be very biased in this because my thoughts are based on what I know about our instruments and how they produce sound but there is more to sound than that.

These thoughts came when I was trying to visualize the whole ‘iKhambi’ group (The Cure Collective) which is an embellished/augmented jazz configuration with five drummers, six singers, four horns, a harp plus a rhythm section. It wasn’t difficult achieving this sound in studio because of all the technology that is available to us but I have a dream of taking it on stage and it’s of course challenging to imagine all of this in a ‘bandstand’ in some jazz club not unless we collectively allow ourselves to re-imagine performance spaces.

Perhaps the main reasons for my questioning arise from a place where I’m constantly trying contextualize what I was taught at school, some of my personal observations and some of what I’ve grown to understand through my journey as a musician versus some of the patterns I absorbed organically in my upbringing whereby it wasn’t toilsome to share spaces no matter how small or big, it simply happened organically. I recall everything almost happening in a circular manner, from our traditional dances, gatherings, rituals and even as far as some of the architecture especially in rural areas people still lived in huts. There are a lot of other examples we can think of and find similar patterns. I want to believe there was some level of consciousness to this and some significance to these geometric structures, I think that to a certain extent it helped the artist, people and communities focus and think in a particular way often a healthy way.

What I’m eventually hoping to get to is finding a way of incorporating some of this thinking into our compositional layout of the stage with a belief that this can encourage and improve our concentration levels during a spontaneous creative journey and promote a more communal approach to our playing. I later want to imagine the bandstand in the same way I think of umsamu or an altar (a place of focus during a ritual) where all our energies are centered and in this way also elevating the role of an audience to that of a participator during a performance/ritual.

I am simply looking for a new/old ways of sharing and presenting concerts/rituals that borrows attributes from our forefathers. Soon it will make sense

Nduduzo Makhathini

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