EFG London Jazz Festival 2023


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Last Show: Saturday 18 th November 2023

PizzaExpress Live (Holborn)

 Vibrant Afro-jazz band Ubunye will bring their new 10 piece band to London Jazz Festival. Featuring three powerful vocalists from South Africa’s Kwa Zulu Natal region combined with a dynamic rhythm section and horn players from Leeds and Manchester, Ubunye’s music is a unique blend of contemporary jazz, Afro-pop and traditional ‘Isigqui’ Zulu music. Their inspirational fusion of jazz, dance and afro-beat that encapsulates the soul of South Africa, is swiftly winning the band a legion of fans across the UK and beyond, having headlined the both the Manchester and Lancaster International Jazz Festival’s, as well as selling out Soho’s PizzaExpress Jazz Club. Now with their new album, Ubunye immortalise the energy and spirit of their revered live shows, on a recorded body of work that is destined to attract further positive attention to their distinctive, high-energy sound.

Ubunye (loosely translated as ‘Oneness’ or ‘Unity’) is the conception of keyboard player and lead songwriter David Evans, who first collaborated with baritone singer Xolani Mbatha at a festival that he was running in Leeds. Having put together a successful project for the festival, the working relationship between Evans and Mbatha flourished, eventually resulting in the recruitment of their most talented colleagues. The current band consisting of the renowned drummer Steve Hanley (distinguished Leeds musicians Nik Svarc and Sam Dutton - Taylor on guitar and bass respectively, as well as singers Nokuthula Zondi and Bonisiwe Madlopha, who as a trio (along with Mbatha) perfectly compliment each other and provide a robust sonic force that is as soulful as it is compelling. Joining the band on this show will be legendary percussionist Dave Hassell and horn players Emma Johnson (Tenor Sax) and Aaron Wood (trumpet) as they showcase new songs from their next to be released album and re workings of songs from the debut eponymous album of 2022. 

Having formed a group like no other, they then set out refine their synergy through a progressive series of outstanding live shows, until the recording of their eponymous debut album organically became a necessity.  The music on Ubunye’s album will undoubtedly speak for itself and is destined to become an important milestone as the world enters a new year of hope, optimism and love.

Band Line Up

Xolani Mbatha (vocalist)
Nokuthula Zondi (vocalist)
Bonisiwe Madlopha (vocalist)
David Evans (keyboards)
Sam Dutton Taylor (bass)
Steve Hanley (drums)
Nik Svarc (guitar)
Dave Hassell (percussion)
Guests: Emma Johnson (tenor sax)/ Aaron Wood (trumpet)