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Erik Paliani plans jazz education centre

Composer, musician and producer Erik Paliani has said he is planning big for the country as he has decided to open a Jazz Educational Centre.

His move follows his 2005 visit to Mozambique, then as musical director/guitarist for South African musician Zamajobe.

“The level of music in Maputo then was not highly competitive in comparison to South Africa.

“Most of their accomplished musicians had migrated to Cape Town or other parts of Europe We displayed superb fusion of funky jazz music. We were simply ahead,” Paliani said.

However, when he returned to Maputo in 2009, this time as musical director for veteran South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, Paliani noticed that a lot had changed.

“Most of the musicians, especially those studying at the University of Cape Town, had returned or were operating between Maputo and Johannesburg, bringing with them organised jazz studies and I could sense great improvement,” he said.

Paliani said the quality of Mozambican music and jazz understanding in general had improved.

“This is why I have decided to do the same here. At this jazz educational centre, practicing musicians will be given a platform to acquire strict jazz knowledge, with a special emphasis on Malawian music/ Malawian jazz,” the guitarist said.

He said, over the past 10 years, he has studied jazz under special South African teachers, although they were more concerned with looking at jazz from a Malawian and African point of view, as opposed to looking at as if it were a Western form of art.

“It might sound like a cliché but it is accepted all over the world that jazz is African. An intellectual analysis, or transcribing, of traditional Malawian music will compel you to conclude that Malawian music and jazz are family and we intend to teach all this at the centre,” he said.

Paliani said they will also teach music-related subjects such as band management and business skills and knowledge required for a modern African jazz musician.

He said they will offer a three month introductory course named ‘Introduction to jazz and Malawian jazz’.

Meanwhile, Pal iani has opened a studio at Kayesa in Mchinji with, among other things, the aim of attracting South African jazz musicians to come and record at his studio but also to help in teaching.

“It is kind of working together. Besides, I am still very much active in South Africa. I took this time off to link my activities in South Africa with Malawi,” Paliani said.

He said, in setting up the studio, he looked at what was happening locally in terms of music recording.

“I don’t want to overcrowd the industry; rather, I would love to expand what is there already. In that regard, I will be recording artists, bands or groups with interesting ideas or unique ideas. For instance, I have just finished recording and I am producing and mixing work for Madalitso Band,” Paliani said.

He revealed that they have sent some of these recordings, through Neil Nayar, to the United Kingdom before their European tour.

Paliani also said he is recording Chimwemwe Phiri, who has written inspirational music by fusing classical music with jazz.

“Further, I have signed saxophonist Dan Sibale. We are mixing two singles, which will be released before September end but I am also going to produce special collaborations of jazz and urban music,” he said.

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