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            INALA Tour 2014


I first heard about this tour when my friend and INALA MD Rob Barron announced on his Facebook page that he was on tour with the legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM). I have been a huge fan of this incredible vocal group since I first heard them on the seminal work 'Graceland' by Paul Simon. It was one of my first introductions to the fretless bass by the Bakithi Kumalo. It was also my ealriest memory of the African Township genre. 


Thanks to Rob, I was priveliged to see this fantastic work that fused South African and Western styles - both musically and choregraphed with traditional Zulu dnace, classical ballet and contemporary dance thanks to Mark Baldwin. 


The original score was composed by LBM founder Joseph Shabalala and Classical composer Ella Spira. The instrumentation of acoustic piano/synth, violin, cello drums and percussion blended beautifully and despite the lack of a bass, the cello and left hand of the piano ably compensated* and the ear soon adjusted. Ella happened to be seated in the same row as myself and we were introduced to eachother by the MD Rob Barron. Ella has also been a huge fan of LBM and they are her chief inspiration for the work having seen them on a UK tour some 5 years ago with her business partner from the Royal Ballet Pietra Mello-Pittman. During our brief conversation, she explained that she was keen to base her compositions around the core sound of LBM and not the other way round. 


To quote from the official INALA website:


"Embracing South Africa’s past, its present and new hopes for the future, INALA delivers a spiritually uplifting and beautiful live story-telling experience, powered by a cultural explosion of music, song and dance."


There are key moments in life that set a marker. Usally life before and after that point. For LBM,

it was the Graceland album that allowed them to 'Grace' the world stage. For Snarky Puppy, it was life post the GRAMMY® Award with Lalah Hathaway. Such a moment could be about to materialise for Ella Spira as the dust settles, but excitement abounds on this current tour. 


It was a an uplifting experience, that brought  genuine smile to my face.


*I can never justify the absence of a bass, even if it sounds great! :)

© Wayne Matthews Music

© Wayne Matthews Music

© David Levene for the Guardian

One of my signed vinyl copies of the iconic Gracelend album and above in the header, their first Grammy® Award winning album in their own right - Shaka Zulu released in 1987. 

© Wayne Matthews Music

The stage setup at the Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry during the intermission

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