The visionary South African pianist, composer, and healer Nduduzo Makhathini has released his Blue Note Records debut Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds, an expansive album anchored by Makhathini’s expressive piano in which lyrical, plaintive horns mingle with percussion, pained yelps and urgent lyrics.
The album features the American alto saxophonist Logan Richardson with a South African band including tenor saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane, trumpeter Ndabo Zulu, bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell Le Pere, drummer Ayanda Sikade, percussionist Gontse Makhene, vocals by Msaki, as well as Nduduzo’s wife Omagugu Makhathini, and background vocals by their children Nailah, Thingo, and Moyo.
In writing about Makhathini’s song ‘Indawu’, WBGO’s Nate Chinen noted that the piece “underscores Makhathini’s natural affinity for the spiritually charged modal jazz of the 1970s, and in particular McCoy Tyner’s albums from the era. Modes of Communication, the first Blue Note album by a South African artist, will no doubt put Makhathini on the radar of many jazz listeners worldwide. But his elite stature back home is already a settled fact.”
Stream the album here.