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Mongezi Feza

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Mongezi Feza began playing the trumpet very early, and by his teens was already playing professionally in groups, taking part in the very popular jazz competitions. Chris McGregor spotted him there and invited him to join the Blue Notes; with them he fled the country in 1964, playing first at the Antibes Jazz Festival and then in Zurich, London, and Copenhagen. Feza was a member of the ensembles McGregor led and played with Dudu Pukwana in his groups Assagai and Spear in the early '70s. In Flute Music (Caroline 1975), he plays flute and percussion on four original compositions, including the beautiful "Sondela." He was heard on Keith Tippett's huge Centipede (Septober Energy, RCA 1971); with avant-rock's Robert Wyatt (Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard, Virgin 1975), and in Henry Cow with Fred Frith (Desperate Straights and In Praise of Learning, Virgin 1974). In 1972, Johnny Dyani invited Feza to join the trio Xaba, with Turkish percussionist Okay Temiz. Feza recorded one of his last sessions (Diamond Express, Freedom 1977) with Dudu Pukwana. He passed away in 1975, from a combination of nervous disorder and untreated pneumonia; his friends and colleagues believed that his complaints were not taken seriously enough at the London hospital. Explosive yet lyrical, Feza was enamored of the style of Clifford Brown and Booker Little. His free improvisations, infused with the influence of kwela rhythms and African melodies, are a marvel of invention. With his premature death, the European jazz scene lost one of its most original voices and a person loved by audiences and colleagues alike.

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1945 in Queenstown, South Africa

Years Active:

'60s, '70s