Constance van Niekerk in Vereeniging SA
The versatile Pablo Nakappa, jazzman, businessman and highly-respected guitarist with a formidable list of musical achievements and experiences has just released ‘Botso’, his second single. The single is being launched on Sunday April 20 during Ronald ‘D-Train’ Chiwanza’s SFM ZimJazz Show (10.30-11.00 am).
Botso is a laid-back jam and a gem to boot! It is soft, warm and inviting with a delightfully easy rhythm. One can, with confidence, say that Botso is one of those rare songs that hit the airwaves from time to time and do so with such bewitching ease. Pablo’s number is so easy on the ear. A lot of thought went into the instrumentation and the result is what we now have: nicely-arranged and magnificently played instruments. The instruments intertwine with the rich earthy vocals in a powerful yet gentle way that makes it absolutely unavoidable to be seduced by the track and sing along to it.
Initially, Pablo had intended to record the song as an instrumental. Fate, however, had other plans and in time the two band mates from the one-time phenomenal Afrika Revenge came back together for the project: Pablo and Willis Wataffi! It is clear from the result that these two did not collaborate just for sentimental reasons or merely to re-live that old-time feeling. Botso is a perfect expression of pure charm and glamour that will blow the minds of all types of listeners, jazz lovers or not. The duet of the two maestros is a unique blend of creativity and talent from whose depths we get this hauntingly mellow sound.
Says Pablo, regarding his ‘collab’ with Willis: “We have worked together before as Afrika Revenge. I was the band’s bass guitar player.”
The irresistible song is full testimony of the musical chemistry between these two. We begin to wonder if the project should not go beyond a once-off and grow into a more lasting thing. The fusion of the voices of Pablo and Willis is highly polished, perhaps due to their having worked together before. It’s like they never went separate ways! How else does one explain such an outstanding performance?
On Botso Pablo also features Progress Chipfumo, an ace guitarist, composer and singer in his own right. And our musical rout is complete. We are left completely captivated.
The song starts with acoustic guitar riffs that have a rich African feel to them. Add to that the deliberate drumbeat and you have a wonderful song riding upon a rhythmic wing of percussion whose effect punctuate the music with accomplished beats. In an act of artistic provocation and appeal the lyrics for ‘Botso’ invite a wistful kind of introspection, especially for all the young men who remain tied to their mothers’ apron strings long after they should have left the nest.
“‘Botso’ is a song about a grown-up man who doesn’t want to look for work and wants to be looked after by his mother. I wrote the song with the help of Willis. We are telling the guy to grow up and stop competing with kids for mummy’s attention. We are saying to him that in our culture it’s not right to be that dependent. Achatanda botso. He’s going to have to appease after she passes on.”
To all those guys still being looked after by the parents and still whining to Mother, it’s time to get more responsible. Grow up guys and get your act together!
Botso was recorded by Spencer Masango at Track Records. Its flip side is a song that appreciates women and gives them due praise for who they are.
Born and bred in Harare’s Mabvuku High Density Suburb, Pablo also went to school there. He was a pupil at Tashinga Primary School and Tafara High School and gives credit to his Grade 6 teacher for awakening his interest in music during the formative years of his life.
“It was my Grade 6 teacher who introduced music to us in class. He bought those plastic penny whistles for the class. During the school holidays, my friends and I would make guitars out of tin and string. We learned to play a few songs on the three strings that we put on the guitars.”
By the time Pablo was in Grade 7 he was already quite adept at playing the guitar since it was the only instrument that was easily accessible in the ghetto.
“A lot of us youngsters ended up learning to play the instrument,” says Pablo with some nostalgia.
Not surprisingly Pablo was soon to join a band. His first band was a reggae band in Mabvuku. Eventually, with the urge upon him, Pablo enrolled to study music at The Zimbabwe College of Music in Harare. Years later Pablo is a lecturer in jazz guitar at this same college.
In 1995 Pablo joined Uya Moya and says, “That was the band that introduced me to jazz.”
It consisted of the late Dumi Ngulube, the late Fred Allen, Chirikure Chirikure, Ray Mawerera, Jill Diesiel, Lovemore Chonzi, John Gara and Funny Cox Dzinduwa. It was made of students and lecturers of the Zimbabwe College of Music. There was never any recorded material but the group did relatively well in jazz circles. We were later joined by Honduras-born Wanny Alverez Agerer who is now based in Kenya. The band disbanded in 1999 when Dumi decided to form Amagents.
After Uya Moya Pablo played with Dumi and Amagents from 1999 to 2000 when he joined Afrika Revenge where he played with Wills Wataffi and Mehluli ‘Taz’Moyo until 2004. He was with Frontline Crew from 2004 to 2005.
Pablo has had vast experience and exposure and played with the likes of the late Andy Brown. Things were always moving towards his own project and in 2009 he formed a group called Pablo and Friends. These days he also plays with an all-star Harare jazz band called the Real Deal. Pablo has several music projects going including his contract with Winky D the Zim Dance Hall master in 2010. Pablo and Friends have become Winky D’s official backing group. In June of 2013, Pablo and Friends toured the UK with Winky D, Oliver Mtukudzi and Sulumani Chimbetu. They played to full houses in London, Leicester and Leeds. Come 9 and 10 May this year they are off on a tour to Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, this time with Nox and Sulumani.
Pablo and Friends are in great demand and have to date backed quite a number of artists including Kudzai Sevenzo, Rute Mbangwa, the Mbare Trio, Hope Masike, Charlie Kambudzi, just to mention a few.
The line-up of Pablo and Friends is Solomon Sunguro on bass, Zealman Munengu on drums, Christo Fefini on keyboards as well as Frank Mavhimira and Pablo himself who also do guitars. The band, however, is not part of the ‘Botso’ project.
The businessman in Pablo does not allow him to remain still. He has tried his hand at acting and is looking forward to taking part in more big screen projects. He made his debut in film in a movie called Chameleon’
“I never dreamt of being an actor and being in the movie Chameleon was by default, really. It kind of just happened when I went along with a friend for auditions. I then decided to audition as well. I landed a major role and that being my first time to act I think I did well, considering the standing ovation I got. I now intend to take acting seriously as well.”
Pablo is also into business and runs a small concern that manufactures hydraulic and pneumatic seals. He is also among a group of former students and lecturers at the Zimbabwe College of Music that is currently tasked with overseeing the running of the college. They also are expected to help with the implementation of programmes designed to help develop the college.
Pablo’s first recording project was in 2010 when he released ‘Now is the time’, his first album. This album did very well in jazz circles and was followed by the single ‘Ahe Ahe’ in 2012. There is no doubt that Pablo’s passion is jazz. Perhaps that makes it predictable when he says he would like to help develop the genre in Zimbabwe.
Rather playfully Pablo says, “For love, I play jazz. For money, I play dancehall.
So, the single ‘Botso’ is from Pablo with love.