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Recap BBC Proms 2022

Photos: BBC/ Mark Allan

Last Sunday, the Metropole Orkest played for the seventh time at the prestigious BBC Proms concert series. As the BBC put it on their website: “if there’s one group that’s absolutely guaranteed to set the Proms on fire, it’s Metropole Orkest”.

On 28 August Metropole Orkest provided an evening-filling program with ‘The South African Jazz Songbook’. Celebrated South African trumpeter, conductor and SAMA Award-winner Marcus Wyatt leads the Metropole Orkest in a showcase of the best of outh African jazz – a cross-section of a vibrant and strikingly diverse scene. There will be music by artists including ‘father of South African Jazz’ Hugh Masekele, Cry Freedom’s Jonas Gwangwa, Genre-crossing composer Abdullah Ibrahim, the Blue Notes’ Dudu Pukwama and Johnny Dyani, and saxophonist Winston Mankunku. Vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu – lead singer of Shabaka and the Ancestors and performance art band The Brother Move On- makes a special appearance, together with Mercury Prize – nominated singer ESKA, star saxophonist Soweto Kinch and up and coming tuba player Theon Cross.

The full concert is available to listen on BBC Sounds for the next year. 

Reviews

Dick Hovenga – Writteninmusic.com / Jazzism

Mighty Metropole Orchestra conquers Royal Albert Hall again

Sunday 28 August 2022 will once again go down in the books as a very special BBC Proms and once again a highlight in the existence of the Metropole Orchestra. Tribute also to Marcus Wyatt, who has continued this project for years to finally see it glorify in London’s Royal Albert Hall (really the mecca of music country).

Sebastian Scotney – Londonjazznews.com

Prom 56: The South African Jazz Songbook

…to arrive on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall last night with the Metropole Orkest was an immense achievement in itself, to which one has to add Wyatt’s contribution as composer and lead arranger, and on top of those, his roles on the night as conductor and compere of a highly complex programme. He deserves all the praise he can get.

…The unanimity of those strings who have put in their thousands of hours working in the same section together, the way they groove so effortlessly, is an experience in itself. And the guest soloists all made great contributions. 

It was also fascinating to watch the physical effect of the music on the audience in a well-filled arena, as the people bobbed, swayed and danced. A special occasion.

Noah Sparks – Jazzwise

Soweto Kinch and Theon Cross fire up BBC Proms’ South African Songbook

For the most part, this first half can be assessed as a big-band interpretation of South Africa’s jazz classics. Interestingly, Wyatt’s arrangements – with their inclusion of the string section – are arguably closer to the jazz orchestra stylings of Paul Whiteman than of Duke Ellington. Given the terrific soloing, and bombastic energy of the players, it makes for a great listen.

There is a keen awareness of the dual purposes of South Africa’s jazz; a sense that beneath the danceable, ebullient surface there is a rebellious political subtext. Additionally, the driving, infectious energy of the works is palpable and perhaps even expanded through the orchestra’s mass of players.

Clive Davis – The Times

2/5 stars The South African Jazz Songbook review

On Wyatt’s climactic piece, Annake Tassou, the tuba player Theon Cross delivered an exuberant solo that added a quotation from Abdullah Ibrahim’s joyous instrumental ‘African Marketplace’. Elsewhere, Kinch’s playing was as aggressive as ever. Mthembu’s voice, deep and sonorous, possessed undeniable character, but he was only an intermittent presence alongside the singer and actress knows as Eska.

Setlist

SET 1

1A. Tete & Barbs in my Mind (Dudu Pukwana) – arr/orch Marcus Wyatt (feat. Siyabonga Mthembu)
1B. Mra (Christopher Columbus/Dudu Pukwana) – arr Chris McGregor/Marcus Wyatt orch Marcus Wyatt
(solos: Robinson Khoury, trombone – Hans Vroomans, piano)

2. Angel Nemali (Dudu Pukwana) – arr Marcus Wyatt
(solos: Soweto Kinch, alto sax – Peter Tiehuis, guitar – Rik Mol, trumpet)

3.  Bombella (Abdullah Ibrahim) – arr/orch Mike Campbell
(solos:Hans Vroomans, piano – Leo Janssen, tenor sax – Peter Tiehuis, guitar)

4. The Click Song (Qongqothwane) (Miriam Makeba) arr/orch Marcus Wyatt
Feat. Eska, vocals – Theon Cross, tuba

5. Age of Inner Knowing (Bheki Mseleku) – arr Afrika Mkhize (Orch Vise Mkizwana or Mike Campbell)
(solos: Hans Vroomans, piano – Sjoerd Dijkhuizen, tenor sax)

6. Lakutshoni Ilanga (Mackay Davashe/Alan Salinga) – arr Louis Moholo/Marcus Wyatt orch Marcus Wyatt (feat Siyabonga Mthembu / ESKA; Theon Cross)
(solos: most of the band + Joke Schonewille, harp & Theon Cross free solo!)

7. Bantu (Zim Ngqwana) – arr Marcus Wyatt / orch Mike Campbell (feat. Soweto Kinch)
(solos: Soweto Kinch, alto sax – Hans Vroomans, piano)

SET 2

8. Connected (comp/arr Marcus Wyatt)
feat. ESKA
(solo: Hans Vroomans, piano)

9. Stimela (Hugh Masekela) – arr/orch David Cousins feat. Siyabonga Mthembu & ESKA

10. Yakhal’ Inkomo (Winston Mankunku) – arr Afrika Mkhize / orch Vise Mkizwana
(solos: Soweto Kinch, tenor sax  – Toni Vitacolonna, drums – Robinson Khoury, trombone – Nico Schepers, trumpet)

11. Diphororo (Jonas Gwangwa) – arr Jonas Gwangwa/Marcus Wyatt / orch Melissa Van Der Spuy feat Siyabonga Mthembu
(solo: Robinson Khoury, trombone)

12. Annake Tassou (Marcus Wyatt) – arr Marcus Wyatt / orch Mike Campbell
feat Siyabonga Mthembu; ESKA & Theon Cross
(solos: Toni Vitacolonna, drums – Theon Cross, tuba)

Encore :
13. Dear Africa (Mongezi Feza/Johnny Dyani) – arr/orch Marcus Wyatt
feat. all soloists
(intro Eric van der Westen, double bass – Theon Cross, tuba)