Mukonde weSadza ("A serving of Sadza") is the first CD release by the Santa Cruz, California band Sadza. It features arrangements of traditional and contemporary Zimbabwean music for marimba, karimba, mbira, hosho and drum, with vocals sung in the Shona language.
Sadza was formed in 2000 and has performed at the Zimbabwean Music Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival Festival and many other events. We have opened for Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited, Maya Soleil, and the Chinyakare Ensemble featuring Julia Chigamba. Members performing on this CD are Lola Britton, Kim Dowling, Joe Keefe, Becca Moeller, Michael Perkins, Ryder Webb and Betty Weiss.
Sadza Marimba and Mbira Band is grateful to our supportive audiences and the people of Zimbabwe for sharing their music and culture and for their friendship. Peace, love and hominy!
Here are some reviews of live performances and our CD:
"Layer upon layer of interlocking rhythms will feed your imagination and nourish your soul. The Santa Cruz-based group Sadza, named after the staple food of Zimbabwe, uses marimbas and mbiras to bring listeners to a dancing frenzy. Sadza's driving beats and synchopated phrases will appeal to a cross-section of musical tastes, satisfying everyone from punks to jazz buffs. The music is rooted in the ancient spiritual traditions of the Shona people, and a legacy of energy, ecstasy and musical mastery continues."
Claire O'Connor, Good Times Santa Cruz
"If you've ever seen the marimba group downtown pounding out a lively and uplifting mix of traditional Zimbabwean tunes, then you've already heard Sadza...unplugged. Their recent performance opening for Thomas Mapfumo featured amplified vocals and mbiras (traditional Zimbabwean thumb piano), oh-so-sweetly accompanying the driving rhythms of the mini marimba orchestra. Expect plenty of dance-floor action when this local group of percussionists performs."
Mike Connor, Metro Santa Cruz
"Santa Cruz, California must have just the right climate for growing marimba bands in the wild. The dearly-departed Dandaro, the vibrant Kuzanga, and now Sadza are all top-notch examples of North American marimba.
Mukonde weSadza is a strong album. The playing is powerful and fast for good dancing, and the audio quality brings out all the instruments and their timbres. The band's singing is strong; particularly the women of Sadza are really learning to belt it out.
My favorite track is the towering and triumphant Tovera, arranged by Musekiwa Chingodza, reminding me strongly of Mhondoro. Joe Keefe's arrangement of Tute Chigamba's mbira song Nyatwa is perfectly quirky and wonderful. This kind of mbira arrangement, originally designed ergonomically for two people's six fingers, is truly difficult for seven people's pairs of arms to play at all, and Sadza pulls it off nicely. I also really like (Chris Berry's composition) Wandirasa sei, which sounds to me just like Taireva in an interesting key, with all the familiar Taireva high lines and melodic and rhythmic variations, although Joe says it's modally different enough from Taireva to justify calling it a new composition.
As time goes on I become less enamored of elaborately-arranged marimba music, so I'm immune to the charms of some of the tracks on this album, but it's all well arranged and well performed. When Sadza really shines for me on Mukonde weSadza is when they just kick back and play their hearts out."
Paul Novitski, Dandemutande.com
"Live recordings usually leave much to be desired: audience intervention and long introductions can interfere with the remote cd listening experience; not so with Sadza's Mukonde weSadza, recorded live at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz.
A quiet first few notes lead to an outbreak of marimba and mbira players in joyful exuberance, then vocals tastefully introduced and interwoven in polyrhythmic contractions.
This is non-African Zimbabwean marimba at its best; gorgeous songs, great celebrations of Zimbabwean traditions- and all out of California, USA by a non-African-rooted band.
By the way, "sadza" is a porridge staple in Zimbabwe and Mukonde weSadza
is a recommended staple in any marimba-loving library collection."
Diane C. Donovan, WorldDiscoveries.net