Friday, September 22, 2023

The unpredictable voice and trumpet melody… Mandisi Dyantyis

Laughter is a part of human behavior regulated by the brain, helping humans clarify their intentions in social interactions and providing an emotional context to conversations. It signals acceptance and positive interactions with others. And if ever, one needed a poster child depicting laughter I believe I would be a worthy contender. I have spent the better part of my life wrapped in the most amusing situations that have left me in stitches.

On one particularly momentous day, I found a group of elders at Bizana a.k.a Wild Coast discussing one topic after the next ever so fervently. It was impossible to follow because each topic seemed to meld into the next without warning, and one couldn’t possibly have the time to digest, reflect and give a meaningful response. I eventually gave up and decided to go with the flow. However, I soon realized that I had missed the boat completely when one of the grannies uttered “Fibri” with such conviction. It was so foreign and yet rousing. To my surprise she continued in a more mellow tone and eventually I heard her say January. The penny finally dropped and I thought “ Damn”… So Fibri is in fact February. I probably cracked a few ribs that day.

My sister then shared a profound nugget, and said “the secret to such conversations is learning to connect the dots.” It is a form of story telling that challenges your brain to decipher the meaning of things to give context. And that is what really matters. You need to be gifted to be able to operate at this level. I know I digressed but as I mentioned, context is everything. I told you the Fibri story so you can have an appreciation of how I felt when I first discovered Mandisi and his unpredictable voice and trumpet styles. He is without a shadow of doubt an acquired taste. I would know, because I had to listen to him a couple of times until his genius was clear for me to see. Somandla was on repeat for almost a month, and each time felt like an additional layer had just been removed, and I continued to connect the dots. I could not help but laugh at myself and still have room to admire the amazing and gifted musician.

I have connected the dots and every single day is a brand new day with Somandla. This much I can tell you, if he sang the same songs in any other language except isiXhosa, a lot would have been lost in translation. Take for instant, Kuse Kude lyrics! Do you think the message would have been the same? I doubt it!

I find it interesting that his opening song is a greeting, Molweni! Appropriately titled, because a greeting is an invitation to your audience to come into a comfortable space and prepares them for a positive experience. There is a certain level of honesty in his singing that I find beautiful, and his ability to manipulate it to suite the lyrics is fascinating. Earlier, I was just thinking of him reprimanding a naughty child with such a calm voice. My gut tells me that child would continue to be playful just so he can have him say something.

On a more serious note. Mandisi is a voice you want to wake up to in the morning and probably soothe you to sleep. The compositions, although relaxed, are quite complex and need a bit of attention. His trumpet which does not appear a lot through out the album, has a special flavour where he does incorporate it. I am thoroughly impressed with the pianist and bass player. The ensemble is the bomb.

I truly cannot see how one cannot appreciate this talented genius. It is easy to tell that there is a lot that has gone into all the compositions and they are so well executed. I now have to deal with Cwaka. Another masterpiece.

Folks, trust me, you need to check out Mandisi if you have not already done so. Bravo Mandisi. Enkosi Bhuti


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