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Monoswezi – “Hondo”
Monoswezi hit the ground running on their debut CD, The Village, which is due in stores January 29th on Riverboat Records / World Music Network. This impressive band features members from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Norway and Sweden. Their mbira and percussion-driven take on traditional music from Zimbabwe is original and exciting. Hope Masike, a talented singer and mbira player, provides most of the lyrics for the album, borrowing musical ideas from the past and translating them into something new and unique. The hushed influence of Scandinavian jazz can be heard in Hallvard Godal’s saxophone and clarinet playing. Monoswezi is a band that likes to improvise and they soar when the intensity builds in their songs, driving the group forward.
Monoswezi’s strong rhythm section will send you into a trance. Steady, looping mbira & percussion grooves provide the perfect platform for Masike’s passionate vocals. Since most of the instruments have percussive qualities, the interlocking harmonies the five musicians get into are hypnotic. The acoustic bass and drum kit glide effortlessly with the mbira and percussion to allow lots of space for vocals, woodwinds or both to take center stage. There is an element of strength in this music, as the steady rhythms enter the minimalist realm of Philip Glass or Steve Reich, but with the warmth of a tight jazz combo in a packed club. Hope’s mbira nyunga nyunga or mbira dzavadzimu adds the right amount of tenderness to the swinging rhythm section.
Monoswezi is a fabulous meeting of two very different cultures. Although after hearing The Village, perhaps Scandanavia and Africa aren’t as far apart as they seem. The band has quickly gained a reputation for their live performances, so check out Monoswezi performing “Ndinewe” & “Xitimela” at the Oslo World Music Festival.