South Africa’s greatest trumpeter, Hugh Masekela, arrived in Harare yesterday ahead of Victor Kunonga’s album launch today at Alliance Francaise. Masekela or Bra Hugh to his fans is the guest of honour at the event. He was invited by Ngoma Nehosho and Hatiite Project, the companies that are working with Kunonga. Walter Wanyaya of Ngoma Nehosho said the album launch was not open to the public but was meant to give the media an intimate experience of the latest release.
According to Wanyanya, Bra Hugh was impressed by the new album and described it as “fresh and dynamic”.
“Victor’s album is fresh, dynamic international sound rooted in African rhythms, musically very superior. He will be a major surprise to the world,” Bra Hugh said.
The album was mastered by Keith Farquaharson, a sought-after South Africa-based music producer who also produces for Freshly Ground.
According to his biography, Kunonga’s music is not easy to pin down to a particular style. Listeners may associate Victor with a chimurenga style, but different. Yet Kunonga’s music is not chimurenga, really. It follows its own path.
The main characteristic of his music derives from cross-cutting mbira patterns employed on two lead guitars, or guitar and mbira, with interwoven bass and drum lines. He departs from typical chimurenga patterns to create a hybrid of sounds, with clever and unexpected use of spaces and times signatures, and complex poly-rhythms through the interlocking guitars.
In a broader and historic music sense, Victor’s real legacy is closer to the legendary Zimbabwean guitar bands of the 1970s and 80s, and his guitar sound and style, while chimurenga-patterned in parts, owes much to this generation who performed before him.Lyrically, Victor Kunonga’s social commentary is poetic and profound, but accessible, painting a poignant vocal picture of what he observes as he touches the pulse of society, charting its trajectory.
Victor has taken mbira-derived and other forms of Zimbabwe’s guitar culture to totally new and unexpected destinations and created a deep and rich tapestry, a soundscape of truly Zimbabwean sounds rooted in the rocks and trees that surround us. He has thus created a unique blend of musical odyssey describable not by genre but identifiable by just two words – Victor Kunonga.