It’s been just over two decades since musical genius Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, the renowned South African jazz pianist, was found hanged next to the body of his wife, Florence.
Molelekwa was only 27 when he died.
Despite his limited recording career, Molelekwa was acknowledged as a “modern great” by fans and musicians.
With a good ear for music, it was not surprising that Molelekwa widened his musical range by producing some of the hottest South African stars of kwaito music.
Author Phehello Mofokeng has written the first book on Molelekwa – the young genius of jazz.
The book hits the right notes.
The musical life of Molelekwa was one full of promise and unmatched genius. He changed the face of jazz and brought it to his young generation.
The talented pianist had a massive input in shaping kwaito music in ways that no one artist has done to any other genre in South Africa.
Molelekwa was set for greater things when he met his untimely passing.
Following his first book – Sankomota: An Ode in One Album, Mofokeng’s new book, “A Note to Taiwa – A Reflective Essay on the Music of Moses Molelekwa” captures the life of the tormented soul through his music.
The book is published by an independent publisher, Geko Publishing.
By referencing Molelekwa’s first album Finding One’s Self, Mofokeng traces the impeccable trajectory of Molelekwa’s music.
Mofokeng’s inquiry on Molelekwa’s music and its effect on South Africa’s music industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Mofokeng goes into detail about the jazz idioms and motifs employed by Molelekwa to open his musical account that became globally relevant while remaining rooted in the continent.
Mofokeng uses kwaito intentionally because it points to Molelekwa’s outstanding musical expansiveness even though he was rooted in jazz.
“His involvement in the music of the people – both jazz and kwaito – Molelekwa brings the working-class blacks closer to the altar of jazz, even if only by distant association, enabling him to break ontological boundaries imposed by critics, cataloguists and the ‘jazz establishment.’”
Mofokeng references essential writers such as Amiri Baraka, Adorno and Allan Ginsberg, who saw themselves at the crossroads of a cultural revolution in the US.
He positions Molelekwa’s music as a response to “the question of “why jazz matters” posed by Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka).”
The book is a referential material that borrows from Bebey, Baraka, Hrebeniak and Porter, other jazz scholars and its influence on the continent’s music.
It also indicates how Africa – as the root of all the founders of jazz – remains the spiritual home of the genre and why Molelekwa’s flavour of jazz found its place in the apex of the genre at the turn of the century.
A Note to Taiwa – A Reflective Essay on the Music of Moses Molelekwa is a worthwhile addition to the body of the intellectual and cultural production by black Africans in South Africa.
Written with a tender passion for music and immaculate analysis, A Note to Moses will make you listen to while pondering what heights Molelekwa could have scaled
A Note to Taiwa – A Reflective Essay on the Music of Moses Molelekwa is available at most major retailers in South Africa.