Some names are not easily forgotten. Some command a certain level of respect the moment they leave the tip of the tongue. Some are destined for greatness.
Undoubtedly, the name Hugh Ramopolo Masekela has achieved its greatness.
Now a household name, the man behind it is well respected for his 47 discographies produced between the years 1962 and 2012.
His music transcends the usual ‘good melody to groove to’. It wields a purpose.
His style – a fusion of jazz and South African traditional music. Its purpose, speaking to younger generations, encouraging and prompting them to embrace their African heritage, which he believes is the best there is in the world.
Hugh’s vocals, cheeky yet amusing dancing and prowess at manipulating the different sounds of the trumpet, flugelhorn and trombone cornet into one faultless harmony are just some of the tricks this 77 year old jazz maestro has up his sleeves.
Growing up in South Africa during a period of oppression, he was nurtured into being an advocate for Africa. As a self-declared child of African heritage, he oozes it the best way he knows how. Musically.
On 12th August, Kenyan jazz lovers were treated to the arresting presence of the great Hugh R. Masekela during the Safaricom Jazz Lounge at Uhuru Gardens.
To kick start the show, the homegrown talent, Nairobi Horns and Mwai and the Truth band, gave electrifying performances that set the mood just right for the stage to be set ablaze.
Hugh on stage, radiated boundless energy shaming scores decades younger than him. Don’t let the moves fool you though. His age-old wisdom reflected through the words of wisdom he spoke and sang, gripping the attention of those in attendance.
Based on his work and various accolades, one may be tempted to refer to him as a legend. Perhaps an enviable title to hold but to him, titles are inconsequential.
Hugh went into music because he loved it.
He is in the business, doing what he does not for the allure of fame but because it is his way of service to the world. This humility originates from his grandmother who engrained in him that when you enter this world, you come with nothing, and you are basically taught and trained how to do everything you now excel at. For this reason, he believes he is the receiver of great gifts and his duty is to invest well in them as you can never repay your teachers.
Safaricom Jazz will continue to support and celebrate musical talent in Kenya, Africa and beyond as it is through music, that communication truly happens.