Your Smile, which is Socca Moruakgomo’s fourth feature album and a departure from the mbaqanga feel that he has become known for, was publicised at an album listening at Botswanacraft last Wednesday.
Moruakgomo, who studied music in the Botswana army, The Royal School of Music in the United Kingdom and New York’s Juilliard School of Music, believes that, finally, he has found his sound on his Afro jazzy album that was recorded in South Africa with the country’s respected session musicians, such as percussionist Godfrey Mgcina, and accordion, harp and organ player, Mthandeni Mvelase, while Kalahari, his previous mbaqanga driven album was recorded in Amsterdam and Paris.
Your Smile also sees collaborations with a South African vocalist of Stimela fame, Nana Coyote Motijoane, and Nigerian jazz guitarist, Kunle Ayo. Both musicians were seen most recently in Botswana, performing on stage alongside Moruakgomo at the Gaborone Summer Festival. Coyote sings on I’m Sorry Sir and Trading Places, while Kunle plays on Mother of the Nation and Caribbean Breeze.
Caribbean Breeze, Moruakgomo says, is inspired by his interaction with the people of the West Indian island of Curacao, where his song, Missed the Flight, from his Kalahari album is used for the islands air carrier, Dutch Caribbean Airlines’ promotional advert as background music.
Martial arts is another thing Socca Moruakgomo is famous for, being a 5th Dan Black Belt Karate instructor and the first black citizen to open a karate school in Botswana. His Karate mentor, Shigeryu Kimura, is late and last visited Moruakgomo’s dojo in 1993 and passed away two years later.
The trumpeter writes in his album sleeve notes having trained under Kimura as also being a lesson of the similarities between martial arts and music, and he dedicates Last Visit, to his sensei.
And the title track, Your Smile, which Moruakgomo performed at the album review session, once again reveals the trumpeter’s boldness to lay down a ‘bedroom’ track. Your Smile, he says, is dedicated to his wife, expressing how much he misses her when he is away from home. Similar to Wena, where he sings, ‘I can’t wait to touch you all over’, this time he sings that “may the cellphones be turned off and lights dimmed”.
The album, Your Smile, will be officially launched at BotswanaCraft this April.