The Reza Khota Quartet navigate the modern music scene – at once fully conscious and respectfully subverting the traditions associated with jazz.
The multi-award winning young protagonist certainly has the credentials to make these compositional and improvisational choices with full volition having submitted to the discipline of classical guitar performance, formal training and holding a Masters degree (in solo guitar performance) from the University of the Witwatersrand. Equally comfortable following the score or allowing it to unfold from the silence, Reza’s respect for and knowledge of a wide range of musical traditions is the platform from which he adds his voice to the newCulture – significantly with Babu, a project that also features bassist Shane Cooper and whose first offering, Uproots, has been voted into the 20 most important South African albums of the decade by the Mail and Guardian.
Saxophonist Buddy Wells has earned significant recognition from the industry as a contributor to SAMA–nominated projects across genres and as a member and contributing composer for Tribe: an important feature in the South African jazz landscape. Perhaps a more fitting accolade lies simply in the enraptured features of a listener fortunate enough to hear him in full flight. His exquisite tone, deep sensitivity and complete immersion have defined him as one of South Africa’s musical gems.
Holding the basis of the rhythmical and tonal space are two of the most in-demand players in Cape Town, Shane Cooper on contrabass and Jonno Sweetman on drums. Shane is a player of great skill and diversity as displayed in his sensitive contribution to the Kyle Shepherd trio and his powerful groove playing in the context of Closet Snare. He is also a composer in his own right, unconstrained by genre – writing the music for the feature length documentary Forerunners by director Simon Wood as well as producing cutting-edge electronica under the name Card On Spokes.
Jonno is a natural born drummer and a profound listener who provides apt and finely crafted percussive contexts for the musicians he works with – be it with Melanie Scholtz’ Love Apples, the Kyle Shepherd Trio or on tour in Europe with Jonathan Crossley’s acclaimed Electric Band.
It is no coincidence that both these young musicians were noticed by and performed with the late great Zim Ngqawana.
The conversation between these four artists is wide open – as likely to manifest sparse restraint as it is to explore density and visceral excitement. It will, however, always be a conversation with the culture of now – never an aesthetic monologue.