Sounds from a beautiful heart
When a great jazz man, steps up to the front wielding the bass (electric and acoustic), we know it is a great time for jazz – for music. The truth of this music is that it takes a lifetime for an individual player to become an institution, and for bass players, it takes even longer, because they are always at the back of the band holding the sound together. Through this album, Innocent Victims and Perpetrators, Lex Futshane, is revealed to us as a lovely embodiment of South African jazz sounds with astonishing creative possibilities. Lex has survived the demands and the ups and downs of going through life as a musician in a society that is loosing its capacity to listen.
Innocent Victims and Perpetrators is a truthful statement of jazzman steeped in African culture. In Lex Futshane’s case, Xhosa culture but still responding to and finding its place in the global language that is jazz. Deceptive in its simplicity, Innocent Victims and Perpetrators is a complex album that explores a musician’s life and his environment. Through it, he communicates who he is, where he comes from and how he feels about life in the world he lives in. Through this album, Lex has created a musical journey – sophisticated and imminently listenable and enjoyable. Lovers of South African jazz have been waiting for this voice and these songs.
To accomplish, his vision, Lex assembled a world-class band made up exclusively of a younger group of musicians -- players who have been looking at him and learning from him. This album brings in Siphiwe Shiburi on drums, a sensitive intelligent musician. On piano he combines the nerve of Yonela Mnana and ‘the quiet fire’ of Thandi Ntuli. Mthunzi Mvubu on alto saxophone gives the album its sensuous, soothing feel and Samora Ntsebeza on percussion roots us with a gentle intensity. His choice on vocals is a miracle in jazz history. Zola Futshane, who Lex describes as “ My son, my brother and my friend", delivers the songs with understated passion and musical clarity. Lex Futshane’s playing is confident, controlled and light. He creates the space for the younger players to enjoy and express themselves without fear. Innocent Victims and Perpetrators is a deep existential statement on our lives today, but it is not grim and dark. In a world where music is made, sold and disposed of at a click of a computer button, we are desperate for the kind of music that comes from the hearts of men and women committed to their art form, driven by a positive consciousness about their place in our history. Lex is a true example of what courageous artists should do.
Despite its tough name, Innocent Victims and Perpetrators, is a record of our kind of jazz from a beautiful and brave player whose heart has been sculpted by our times. It shows us a beautiful side of ourselves and sets the standard for future players. This is an album for everyone and it will find its place in the hearts of musicians and music lovers everywhere.
The station Master (Afrikan Freedom Station.)