The Wits Arts Collective were captivating at the Oslo Jazz Festival in Norway and The Orbit jazz club in Braamfontein.

The Wits Arts Collective returned to Johannesburg to take the stage at The Orbit jazz club in Braamfontein on Wednesday night, August 29, after performing at the Nordic Showcase in Oslo, Norway, a few weeks earlier.

The Wits Arts Collective is made up of four students in the honours music programme – Keorapetse Kolwane, Nick Bjorkman, Mdu Mtshali, and Tal Gordon.

They were invited to the popular Braamfontein club to perform the same set they had performed in Norway, which exclusively featured South African music as well as original songs.

The trip to Norway was sponsored by Concerts SA and the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO). Tal Gordon, the trumpeter for the band, said that they found the standard of music in Norway to be very different to what they were used to.

“Music is taken very seriously there so it’s at a very high level. Before I went, I was a bit worried but you just have to accept who you are as a musician and you won’t be intimidated,” she said.

According to Gordon the four, who were selected individually, came together as a band for the first time at the Nordic Showcase.

“It’s been cool playing with the band and only playing South African repertoire. We all became so much closer through Oslo,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.

Concerts SA and SAMRO sponsor a collective of student musicians to attend the Nordic Showcase each year, alternating between Wits, University of Cape Town and University of KwaZulu-Natal, said Gordon.

The Orbit audience was captivated throughout by the powerful voice of lead singer, Keorapetse Kolwane, as well as the improvisations by pianist, Mdu Mtshali.

“I really enjoyed the vocals, piano and bass,” said Anima McBrown, who attended the performance with a friend. “As a collective they came together beautifully and the vocalist was very talented.”

Kabelo Mlotshwa, the manager of The Orbit, was also full of praise.“The performance was very beautiful, especially the [original] composition and the whole groove.”

He added that the club had become more experimental in its approach of artists. It now targets performers from different genres such as afro pop, salsa, and afro beats, and promotes them mainly on Wednesday nights. “In the beginning we were strictly jazz but now we’re exploring other genres of music to cater to a wider clientele,” Mlotshwa said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits Art Collective vocalist Keorapetse Kolwane took centre stage at the Orbit Jazz Club.

Photo: Naledi Mashishi