The Louis Moholo-Moholo Retrospective

13 Sep 2017 - 08:30

The Louis Moholo-Moholo retrospective features an exhibition, performance and seminar and will be held at the Centre for African Studies (CAS) Gallery, University of Cape Town (UCT). Louis Moholo-Moholo has been described as not only one of the greatest drummers to emerge from South Africa but also one of the most outstanding leaders of the Jazz Avant-garde movement. Yet the full range of his importance, contribution and versatility remains hidden to most audiences but not so to the many musicians he has worked with in a prolific career spanning more than fifty years.

With more than a hundred recordings in a discography stretching from 1962 to date, his appreciation as a leader and collaborator is great confirmation of the respect and adulation his peers and younger generations of musician have for him and the great demand for his masterful skills as a composer, arranger, orchestrator and innovator. In the words of former manager and longtime friend Hazel Miller, ‘Louis makes other musicians go to places they would not have thought possible’. Among his many awards from across the world is a 2004 South African National Honour-the Order of Ikhamanga Silver, granted to him as part of the Blue Notes by the President of the Republic South African for: ‘Excellent achievement in the genre of jazz music, contributing to the development of music in the South African townships and defying apartheid laws by forming a multi-racial group’.

The exhibition, based mainly on his personal archival collection and our conversations and collaboration with him over the last eighteen months, is an intimate look at the life and work of a sophisticated, versatile master musician. As our early conversations moved from the private public space of his living room, deeper into the recesses of his home, an aesthetic world of an artist in the public gaze opened out to us. Our engagements with him were made more substantive and meaningful by his conscious collection, archiving and curating of concert posters, ticket stubbs, records, instruments, awards, mementos, photographs and artist tags from across the world, over a period many years. His archive showed his own self-awareness and reflection on his eloquent contribution and life long dedication to his craft. It constitutes his own private gaze on his career. The exhibition has tried to recreate this aesthetic, finely balancing it with the words and works of those who have followed his extra-ordinary career through the years, and includes rare photographs by the internationally acclaimed jazz photographers, George Hallet and Rashid Lombard, as well as, a previously unseen series of the legendary Blue Notes at the Novara Jazz Festival 1964, by renowned Italian photographer Jean Pierre Maurer.

The retrospective, curated by Nkululeko Mabandla and Paul Weinberg, continues from the Louis Moholo-Moholo Legacy project initiated by the Center for African Studies at UCT in 2016. Comprising a virtual exhibition, symposium and a concert performance featuring Bra Louis and a UCT student’s/ community orchestra, the first leg of the project was held on October 7 2016. Some of the footage is included in the current exhibition.

Bra Louis’ artistry and stellar career has touched fellow musicians and audiences across the globe. His incredible journey tells a story of triumph of the human spirit in overcoming great adversity to reach the pinnacle in his chosen field. The retrospective as captured in the title of one of his signature tunes ‘you aint gonna know me ‘cos you think you know me’ invites us to take a look, engage, enjoy and reflect on the staggering musical life of Louis Moholo-Moholo.

Time: 6.30 for 7pm
Date: 15th September 2017
Venue: CAS Gallery, Oppenheimer Building, Engineering Mall, Upper Campus, UCT

For more information contact :, 021 650 5251