Filbert Marova an unrecognised name

Fred Zindi Music
After hearing “Nyanga Trout”, soul-jazz fans of a certain age will likely find themselves counting their own. “A canny young fisher named Fisher, once fished on the edge of a fissure. A fish with a grin pulled the fisherman in. Now we are fishing the fissure for Fisher.” This was a saying we recited during my primary school days. Up to now I have not fully grasped its meaning, but Filbert Marova who seems to like fishing a lot, has reminded me of this saying.

I have always had a problem with eating fish because of the fish bones, but many fish connoisseurs tell me that it’s the bones which gives them pleasure in eating fish. Filbert Marova also tells me that he enjoys eating fish from mackerel, tilapia, matemba to Kariba bream and Nyanga trout.

According to him, Nyanga trout is a tasty oily fish which is related to the salmon and he simply loves it. This is what has inspired him to write songs about fish.

Currently, he has two albums to his credit, both named after fish. The first one, “Kariba Bream” was released in 2006. In it, he collaborated with a number of artistes. It won him the Best Jazz album Award at the Zimbabwe Music Awards (ZIMA) in the same year

After the ZIMA award, Filbert formed the band Blaqberry Jazz which expertly blended diverse genres including blues, soul, rock, funk, mhande, kwaito and classical music with strong elements of jazz to create great organic, home-grown and original music.

This quartet of passionate and energetic musicians brought together the talents of Filbert Marova, Eve Kawadza, his son Tafadzwa Marova and Mutsawashe Gudlanga.

Marova, with the vast musical experience gained during his five years as a member of the Frontline Kids band, shows that special touch, which adds a certain sophistication and quality to the new album, “Nyanga Trout.”

Yes, Filbert’s professional musical career started with the Frontline Kids, one of Zimbabwe’s highly acclaimed music acts that gained popularity on the local music scene from 1987 to 1992. From 1992 Filbert joined Kelly Rusike’s Jazz Invitation, the band which influenced his inclination towards Jazz as a music genre. It is also during his stint with Jazz Invitation that he wrote the song “BP YanguYakwira” which was excellently executed by Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana.

Receiving a new CD from Filbert is always a treat. With this new venture, Filbert takes us on a sonic journey — one which is reflected by the name of such tracks as “Patimire” and “Kwayedza.” The music is meditative, reflective and lyrical yet also assertive, boisterous, celebratory, exploratory, sometimes cacophonous, often percussive and frequently orchestral.

Although he has taken his time to give us his latest offering, “Nyanga Trout”, it has indeed been worth waiting for. Some of the musicians who worked on this album, such as Adam Chisvo who did the percussion died. Filbert himself who worked consistently on the piano, guitar, bass, keyboards, and mbira with assistance from his son, Tafadzwa on bass guitar, Paul Wagnberg on organ, Stewart Charles on harmonica, Owen Chimuka on keyboards , Linn Heidi Anderson on flute and Matthew Ngorima who played lead and rhythm guitars, surely found the years spent on this album worthwhile.

“Nyanga Trout” is full of many-layered sounds capes which are often suggestive and aurally seductive, if somewhat chilly in emotional tone. Keyboardist on song number six, Owen Chimuka, guitarist Matthew Ngorima and percussionist Adam Chisvo make the line-up on songs 6 and 7, but often it seems as if we’re hearing half-a-dozen players, thanks to the clever guitar loops and over-dubbed synch lines.

In Song number 7, titled “Siyana Nazvo”, adding his own touch of suggestive magic to all this is Filbert himself, but thankfully he doesn’t sap the energy and drive of the playing, which is considerable.

This energy comes from the deliberate mismatch between the hectic, pattering Jazz drum patterns and the repeating riffs, which are always arithmetically ingenious, if as hard and angular as steel girders as shown in “Patimire”, another jazzy scorcher which to my mind matches “Bayisayi”, the opening track.

When heaped up into layers the whole album filled with songs which include “Usandidhonze”, “Kumhunga Hakunepwa”, “Kwayedza” and “Usamumanikidze” almost defeat the ear’s attempts to unscramble them.

It could all be too much, but there is usually a moment when the pieces break out of their self-created labyrinth — as in the opening number “Bayisayi”, where the music emerges unexpectedly into a wide-open harmonic space.

In the eighth number “PesePese”, the pattern is reversed. Gentle synch chords fade into one another, like layers of mist on an early morning sea, but over the horizon something threatening and super-fast eventually approaches.

Overall this album is musically intriguing, and full of ear-tickling sounds, but also truly loveable. Vocal collaborators on “Nyanga Trout” include Nyasha Shereni, John Pfumojena, Hope Masike, Sharon Ndlovu, Cecille Maria Pauline Giskemo, Sunshine and Willis Wattafi. After hearing “Nyanga Trout”, soul-jazz fans of a certain age will likely find themselves counting their own.

Then again, even the uninitiated may be similarly inclined. Beginning with a wonderfully evocative take on Sunshine’s “Patimire”, a laid back groove by bassist Tafadzwa and the song falls into place as imagination is set free to roam through miles of melodic space. Sunshine sings beautifully, blending registers from mid range to high end and phrasing that perfectly flows as he incorporates sustain and vibrato in flawless grace.

Though top-notch jazz musicians from Dorothy Masuku, Jazz invitation, Simangaliso Tutani, Cool Crooners to Brian have worked with Filbert, not to mention his involvement with the Frontline Kids and his ZIMA award-winning album, he has escaped wide-spread public awareness. He shouldn’t remain unrecognised much longer.

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