Gideon Nxumalo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gideon "Mgibe" Nxumalo [nkǁɔˈmalɔ] (born 15 June 1929 in Kimberley; died 24 December 1970) was a South African jazz pianist and marimba player, acclaimed also as a composer and arranger.[1] Nxumalo has been hailed as "perhaps one of South Africa's greatest unsung musical and cultural heroes."[2]


Nxumalo graduated from university with training in classical music, playing the clarinet, viola, guitar, and drums. He specialized in swing, helping to pioneer this new direction in music.

Under the name "Mgibe", as he was known by admirers, Nxumalo was, from the early 1950s, host to a radio programme This is Bantu Jazz for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). In the wake of the Sharpeville massacre, his declared political commitment was to lose him his position at the SABC.

At Dorkay House in Johannesburg, Nxumalo taught piano and music theory. He was also active as a writer, inter alia for the stage, as visual artist and as actor. In 1958-59 he was a member of the Philip Tabane Quartet; also appearing with Dorothy Masuka and the Manhattan Brothers. Producing two jazz records, Nxumalo's compositions brought together diverse musical styles including swing, Big Band and elements of indigenous African song and rhythm.[1]

Nxumalo also composed a String Quartet, works for Chamber Orchestra, musicals, jingles and musical themes. He arranged African songs for the musical Sponono (script by Alan Paton and Krishna Shah), produced at the Cort Theatre on Broadway in 1964.[3] A jazz score composed by Gideon Nxumalo with Max Roach featured in the film Dilemma which was shot secretly by Henning Carlsen in 1962 in South Africa under apartheid.

Nxumalo's celebrated Jazz Fantasia, in an arrangement by Denzil Weale for symphony orchestra and big band, and commissioned by Music is a great investment - MIAGI, was performed in 2009 by the MIAGI Youth Orchestra in concerts in South Africa and on tour in Germany.[1][2]



  • Gwen Ansell, Soweto Blues: Jazz, Popular Music, and Politics in South Africa. Continuum, 2005, ISBN 978-0826417534

External links[edit]