Mtukudzi Confirms New Band

The photos show the new arrivals in the Black Spirits band performing alongside Mtukudzi at a prestigious international jazz festival in Johannesburg last Saturday.

While the news of the sacking of the four members Charles Chipanga, Namatayi Mubariki, Never Mpofu and Simba Dembedza has spread like wild fire in Zimbabwe now even more interesting detail on the story is emerging.

Three of the four new band members Blessing Mparutsa (drums), Enock Piroro (bass guitar) and Max Chiwara (guitar) are not necessarily that new to Mtukudzi  having all played in the Black Spirits at different periods of time over the years. Mtukudzi has eliminated the marimbas replacing them with the guitar.

Chiwara is a veteran musician who performed with Mtukudzi as a guitarist from the 1970s to 1985 and was part of numerous of Mtukudzi’s recordings that went on to be national hits such as the album Shanje.

Mparutsa, who comes from a family of musicians in Manicaland who at one stage were known as The RUNN Family, plays drums and once performed with Mtukudzi in the Black Spirits over a decade ago. Mparutsa is married to jazz diva Dudu Manhenga and they also play sided by side in the band Colour Blue.

Enock Piroro was also part of Mtukudzi’s crew about the same time as Mparutsa and was until recently a member of Colour Blue.

Strovers Maswobe plays percussion and is the only one without previous links with Mtukudzi.

Mtukudzi is understood to have particularly recruited his past members Mparutsa, Piroro and Chiwara into the new fold to ensure continuity in terms of his katekwe-jazz contemporary fusion and flair.

“It would have been a huge mistake had Mtukudzi hired musicians who are not familiar with his style. It was strategic that he got his three former band members who will land running as they are familiar with his beat,” said a music critic Leeroy Musoni.

It is however not clear how Mparutsa and Piroro will juggle between Mtukudzi’s hectic international and local itinerary and Manhenga’s Colour Blue shows.

Sources close to developments in the Black Spirits said Mtukudzi was moving steam ahead with the new band and would be revisiting Johannesburg next week for more shows before returning to the local scene and touring overseas.

While the rest of the fired band members have not said a word since their dismissal only one of them Chipanga has confirmed publicly through Face Book that he was no longer with Mtukudzi.

Meanwhile Mtukudzi’s camp has said through their publicist Shepherd Mutamba that it is not their company policy to discuss personnel issues of their staff publicly more so in the media.