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ANDILE YENANA (article first published : 2005-01-26)

The 2005 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz is Andile Yenana. Born in King William's Town in 1968 he attended school in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. He obtained a diploma in education from Fort Hare University before going to Natal University where he read for a bachelor's degree in Jazz under the tutelage of Professor Darius Brubeck.

Andile says of his youth, "I was exposed to music at a very young age, and my experiences, both as a child and as an adult musician, stem from a social context." He says his love of music was always a shared thing, either listening to records with his family as a boy, or being part of the school choir. At Fort Hare University, he formed a reggae band with some friends, and those times, he says, were some of the best days of his life.

When Andile moved to the “big smoke” he began working with many of the seasoned musicians in the country, including Zim Ngqawana. Zim and Andile have since recorded three CDs under Sheer Sound - San Song, a Norwegian and South African collaboration.

"Jazz is an act of collaboration and improvisation, that's why I love it so much. I am creating WITH people," he says. "I have been lucky to have been mentored by some of the greatest names in the South African Jazz fraternity, like Darius Brubeck, Steve Dyer, Barney Rachabane, Winston ‘Mankunku' Ngozi, Sibongile Khumalo, Suthikazi Arosi and Gloria Bosman."

This mentoring and passing on of knowledge has been central to Andile's development. "It is important for us in South Africa to consider what we must preserve from the past and what we must discard," he says. Andile is also hugely aware of the role his parents have played in shaping his cultural identity and stresses how grateful he is to them.

In 1996, Andile took part in a tour of Chicago with Zim Ngqawana, and has since been to America twice for extensive tours of the Midwest. In 1997 he was involved in a collaborative project between South African and British jazz musicians and played at the Royal Albert Hall in London. After this successful concert, the South African contingent went on to play in France at Fin de Siecle. This resulted in the recording of A Quintet Legacy.

Andile's debut album with Sheer Sound entitled We Used To Dance, features Feya Faku (another KZN jass muso), Sydney Mnisi, Kevin Gibson and Herbie Tsoaeli. He also contributed to, and co-produced, Wintson ‘Mankunku' Ngosi's album Abantwana We Africa which was released by Sheer Sound in 2003.

Looking back, Andile says that his soul was nurtured by all forms of urban black music - Motown, Philadelphia, South African Jazz, The Blues, Funk and Gospel.

He thinks South African is at a very exciting cusp in terms of most aspects of life. Young as he is, he finds himself admiring the next generation: "They know what they want and how to get it". However, he is excited by adventure and surprise, and is happy to take things as they come.




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