It Has To Be Jazz┬«
The approach has always been that transitioning from one genre such as classical music to something as extreme as jazz is simple and straightforward. Yes! That has been my view for a long time! That is, of course until I met Kamogelo ‘Kamo’ Matsoso. Maybe to a certain degree I always took the transition for granted and never really bothered to research past the point of training details. Well, I am glad I have since looked into it and that first-hand information from Kamo has given me a deeper understanding of what is involved.
So, as the It Has To Be Jazz┬« project team was planning the launch of It Has To Be Jazz┬« – Page From The Past album, I got an update to the effect that they were going to feature Kamo and her band. Now in my previous interactions with Kamo, I knew she was a singer but that only became clear when she advertised her show at The Orbit. The day of the launch came and there she was all good to go. As she was going through the material she was planning to present with her band, I realised for the first time that we were onto something really big. Indeed, she delivered like a professional and beyond my expectations.
Throughout her performance, I got lost a few times; that is musically speaking. I was totally confused by her incredible voice and how she positioned it with every note and song. It felt very strange because in some cases there were both high and low-pitched notes that she handled effortlessly and with such ease. The one thing that she portrayed throughout her stage performance was her confidence to handle the audience. She is such an amazing entertainer.
After the show I had the opportunity to chat to her and finally I learned that initially she had classical voice training and then progressed to jazz. Since the show was restricted to an hour, she left me, probably the audience too, feeling like there was a lot more to offer. But the booking schedule with the venue management did not allow, so we had no choice but to end the show on time.
The second opportunity aroused recently where she was performing at an upmarket restaurant in Sandton with the guest star artist, Keorapetse Kolwane. I knew about her featuring as one of the many artists scheduled to perform at the venue; but I had no clue that she had invited a few of her artists colleagues and friends. On a different note, I find restaurants as venues very tricky because you cannot tell if the audience is there to appreciate the music or it is the usual Friday evening outing. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the majority in the audience was actually her followers and they were there for the music.
The show was totally different from the launch because she brought in a different band and she had almost 3 hours of material and the time to cover it all. Once again, she demonstrated her skill in dishing out various pitch tones and what also came as a surprise was her skilful scatting. I truly enjoyed the show and I am hoping to be following the rest of her performances.
Kamo is a very jovial person with a very bubbly character and yet humble enough to consistently afford everyone she comes into contact with the respect they deserve. I guess it has to do with the upbring. My attempt to get an understanding of her transition from classic to jazz was not quite what I expected in the sense that although she was trained as a classical singer her heart has always been with the South African legends. Indeed, she treated us to some of the amazing South African jazz standards like Yakhal’inkomo, which she did with Kolwane. I find it interesting that every rendition of this standard sounds so fresh and different. This is the one song that artists sing with respect and passion.
Let us backtrack. Everyone I have met who knows Kamo, only know her as a singer. When she opened the first set with a flute tune, it surprised the audience including myself. Now I am wondering what else does she do with music. But I suppose it is a question for another day.
I am impressed by her energy and commitment to the arts. Besides performing music, she is actually a lecturer at AFDA. This is a position I feel she is best suited for because of her incredible people skills. Above all, she is very passionate about the arts and actively participates in keeping the arts alive. This brings us to her future plans. She will be recording her material in the very near future. If her live performances are anything to go by, one can only imagine what her debut material is going to sound like. I can hardly wait. In the meantime, watch this space.
So, why did Kamogelo ‘Kamo’ Matsoso make the It Has To Be Jazz┬« project review? She is the first artist we have come across who has actually fully transitioned from a classical background to jazz. We admire her tenacity in sticking to her love for music and ultimately becoming this amazing singer.