Moses Taiwa Molelekwa
Jazz Pianist, Composer & Producer
The Afro-Jazz renaissance movement was led by the late composer and piano genius- Moses Taiwa Molelekwa.
Before his tragic untimely death he raised the bar and took the South African Jazz music to another level, leaving his peers to continue with the race at a pace never dreamt of before. Moses Taiwa Molelekwa was born in 1973 into a musical family in Tembisa, near Johannesburg. His grandfather was a pianist and his father, Jerry, is a jazz enthusiast whose love for the music of Thelonius Monk earned him the nickname “Monk” among his peers, most of whom were collectors of Jazz music. Moses did his piano studies at FUBA where he was the first to receive the institution’s Best Student award in 1987. Before long he was performing in Johannesburg’s respected clubs with established musicians. He was a founding member of the award-winning bands Brotherhood and Umbongo. They showed their true colors in the Gilbey’s Music of Africa competition held in 1991 and 1992. At an early age Taiwa already toured the USA with Hugh Masekela, Dorothy Masuka and Julian Bahula and back home he played alongside Miriam Makeba, Jonas Gwangwa. Molelekwa’s debut album Finding One’s Self with MELT 2000 in1995 won him FNB SAMA2’s Best Traditional Jazz as well as Best Contemporary categories. For a debut album to win both the old and the new can only reveal the master blender behind it, a genius who can fuse the sounds of two worlds and times to set a new standard for future musicians of the genre. Moss was a world-class pianist who could play anywhere, anytime with the world’s best. the line-up of musicians on his album Genes And Spirits is not only a clear testimony of the respect he had for his profession of choice, but also the high esteem with which his peers world-wide regarded him. On the album he dedicated one track Spirit Of Tembisa to his home town and one of the fastest growing townships in Gauteng. The album was nominated in FNB SAMA5’s Best Producer and Best Male Artist categories, and won the Best Contemporary Jazz Performance section. At that gala event he set the stage ablaze with TKZee and Loyiso Bala. Taiwa’s improvising skills made him so versatile. As much as he could journey between the traditional and the modern, he could also cruise smoothly between jazz and kwaito. When respected former head of FUBA School of Music Geoff Mapaya recorded his Afro-Fusion album, Thobela Mmirwa (2001), he invited one bright former student of the institution to sit behind the keyboards on two tracks, No Idea and Ya Warang – Moss excelled! Moses also made a valuable contribution to Sibongile Khumalo’s album in the form of his composition titled Free Spirit. As a musical mercenary his assignments included Stimela’s regrouping album Don’t Ask Why, Jimmy Dludlu’s Echoes From The Past and Kabelo Mabalane’s Everybody’s Watching. Like that US jazz pianist and composer, Thelonius Monk who influenced the development of Bebop, Taiwa was already developing a characteristic pianistic style of his own that was destined to change Afro-Jazz as we know it. On 13 February 2001 the nation learned with shock that the bodies of both Moses and his wife/manager, Florence “Flo” Molelekwa (née Mthobo) were discovered in their Johannesburg offices. They are survived by their son Zoe who also took up piano and keyboard studies at the UKZN in Durban. Moses Taiwa Molelekwa lived his brief stay with us so fast and vast, so fruitful and fertile that his musical globe trotting will take a privileged few among us a life-time to match. After his departure his other works were released on two albums, Darkness Pass & Wa Mpona – we’ll always see you!
MOSES TAIWA MOLELEKWA – LIVE AT THE FIN DE SIECLE FESTIVAL NANTES 1997(DVD MZADV001)
The 1997 series of rehearsals and gigs in Nantes was released in 2004 as a video documentary filmed by Dick Jewell and edited by Lianne Cox. The DVD is sub titled “La Dance Africaine du Jazz Piano” featuring Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, Kaya Mahlangu, Fana Zulu and Sello Montwedi.
Gwen Ansell dubbed this live performance as one of his best. Recorded and filmed during the Fin de Siecle Festival in Nantes France in 1997 this DVD contains not just Taiwa’s concert performance but also some striking extracts from the afternoon rehearsals.
Sub Menu’s of the DVD include: The Making of track Nobohle, the Music Video “Hungry on Arrival” filmed during the 1994 Outernational Meltdown recordings with Airto Moreira, Jose Neto, Fana Zulu, Byron Wallen, Shaluza Max and Moses co-producer Andrew Missingham.
Music videos of Darkness Pass, Spirits of Tembisa and Hungry on Arrival by award winning video director Lianne Cox, rare amateur footage of studio recordings, interviews with Monk Molelekwa (father of the late Taiwa) Pops Mohamed, Nicholas Swabile Hauser and MELT 2000 founder Robert Trunz plus a biography and pictures of the artist.