Thandi Ntuli releases “Live at Jazzwerkstaat”
Written by Qello Mapanya on March 23, 2020
In February 2019, Thandi Ntuli was invited to headline at an artist-curated, artist-led jazz festival in the capital city of Switzerland, namely Jazzwerkstatt Bern. This is a festival known to showcase existing projects but more notably, to feature once-off collaborative projects with artists from around the globe. For this performance, Thandi wrote and arranged her music for what she called “The Thandi Ntuli Art Ensemble” to challenge herself to write for a bigger ensemble than what she usually has access to performing with. Drawing from the name but not necessarily the concept of The Art Ensemble of Chicago.
“I had always imagined my project “Exiled”, released in February 2018, to be one that incorporates various artistic mediums such as visuals, spoken word and larger instrumentation because of the desire to tell a complex story, which was the epicentre of the album’s inception. These elements would compliment/enhance the music to assist the listener in their own journey of the experience.”
For this occasion, she rearranged the music of “Exiled”, including in the ensemble a string quintet, a bold first for her. “Leading this ensemble with musicians from in and around Switzerland, that I was mostly playing with for the first time, was an intense learning exercise as I navigated the intercultural dynamics as well as the nuances of each instrument that would help me articulate my vision on the score. We could not have achieved this in such a short space of time without the musicality and dedication of all the musicians I was honoured to work with.” -Thandi Ntuli
Taken from their second performance at Jazzwerkstaat Bern in March 2019, which was performed in front of an audience of little children, this project, is a shared piece of a once-off experience that displays the young artists vast capabilities as not only a strong composer and performer but as an arranger who weaves the imagery of her stories with each note.