Our June interview is with the South African born Jazz musician and composer Lwanda Gogwana. The talented trumpeter answered a few of my questions and talked about his upcoming appearance at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.
Your music career started very early in life, what made you want to follow this path?
Lwanda Gogwana: I wish I had that amazing story of how I organically ‘learned music from the street’ or that ‘it was always in my family’ but I don’t. I fell in love with music at school. I think that’s also why I am so drawn to music education. I was one of the lucky ones, and had music at school.
I started off singing in the school choir, I joined the percussion band, got piano lessons and ultimately picked up the trumpet... all at school! Concurrently, my dad always played jazz in his car and so that molded my jazz ear. At that time it was all just what I enjoyed as a kid, today it is what I see as the strongest weapon to change the world.
“...I enjoy the spontaneity of playing music, especially in jazz...” - Lwanda Gogwana
What part of the music process do you enjoy the most, playing or producing?
Lwanda Gogwana: I don’t think I have a favourite between the two – they both have ignited me to tears before. I enjoy the spontaneity of playing music, especially in jazz, that back and forth burst of energy between the band and audience.
You can rehearse all you want, ultimately, your audience determines the success of your performance, but you need to convince them, a lot of musicians won’t want to admit that though. Producing gives you that power to create a masterpiece... I’m a virgo, I’m a perfectionist.
You have worked with some big names, local and international. How do think South African Jazz compares to other countries?
Lwanda Gogwana:I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that question, I haven’t toured enough yet... What I can say is that South African jazz is world class, and I think if we embrace it more, embrace that sound of our forefathers, I think we will be more than fine.