BMW South Africa presents ... The Blue Heads at Spier

Wednesday, 3 March, 2004
Maria Kounelakis
Part of the Spier Arts Summer Festival on Thursday 11 March 2004

THE BLUE HEADS, a Johannesburg jazz ensemble formed under the auspices of the BMW JAZZ CLUB, will perform as part of the Spier Arts Summer Festival on Thursday March 11th 2004, reinforcing BMW South Africa's commitment to local culture, under the company's diverse and far-reaching corporate social investment programme.

THE BLUE HEADS have risen to prominence by arranging and playing the musical compositions of GERARD SEKOTO, the well-known South African painter, who lived as an exile in Paris from 1947 until his death in 1993. The nine member band was formed early last year, drawing on talented jazz musicians and vocalists from South Africa and beyond, including singer/pianist Dimpie Tshabalala, drummer Isaac Mtshali (who has played with the likes of Billy Joel and Paul Simon), guitarist Ntokozo Zungu and French Congolese singer Stanley Mwamba. Since 2003, THE BLUE HEADS have played at several BMW Jazz Club-sponsored events and have also been given an opportunity to record an album via the BMG Africa label, as a result of this exposure.

The name chosen for this diverse group of musicians pays homage to the 'blue heads' style of Sekoto's 1960's era art, such as 'Woman's Head' of 1963. GERARD SEKOTO's talents as composer, lyricist and musician (he played piano and guitar to eke out a living in the tough post-war economic climate in Paris) were only realized after his death. Author and Sekoto expert, Barbara Lindop, discovered the manuscripts in Sekoto's suitcase - a part of his returned estate - at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. Many artworks and writings comprising his estate, were returned to South Africa in 1999, after protracted negotiations between the South African and French governments.

There are twenty-six manuscripts comprising Sekoto's musical compositions, and although the songs were originally composed for a solo pianist, THE BLUE HEADS have arranged them for a 9-piece band. The unique songs project powerful and heart-rending compositions, and reveal the poignant yet universal struggle for recognition and survival, of the artistic spirit in exile. In the last two years the BMW Jazz Club has acted as a platform to actively promote a number of local musicians, including Kesivan Naidoo, Siya Makuzeni and Thabo Mdluli, and THE BLUE HEADS project adds an exciting dimension going into 2004.

'We are proud to provide this opportunity for emerging artists to perform in public and by doing this assist them in furthering their careers in the music industry, as well as gaining recognition amongst South African's and hopefully the world,' said BMW's General Manager for Communications, Richard Carter.

To give their Spier performance on Thursday March 11th - at the elegant estate's amphitheatre - to a wider public appeal, THE BLUE HEADS will also play a variety of popular South African jazz standards. This one off show is not to be missed, and tickets are available now at Computicket.

For more information please contact: Lance McCormack at BMG Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 11 274-5000

Issued by: Maria Kounelakis at BMG Africa 
Tel: +27 (0) 11 274-5000