TaraJazz, Zanzibar. This exciting young band of musical explorers is on a mission, improvising, sharing and responding to new sounds. At the group’s core is jazz, real, live and uncompromising. This is a unique blend that brings elements of Zanzibari taarab with its Arabic, African and Eastern influences and rhythmical flavours from the diverse palette of Tanzanian musical traditions.
Originally founded by Suleiman Makame aka Man Sulei, a wizard on piano and keyboards, the group also features Hassan Mahenge (oud, sax, ngoma), Mahsin Basalama (ganun, double bass, percussion, vocals), Felician Mussa (violin), Sam Groove (percussion, bass), Regina (vocals) and Chocholee (drums).
Each of these artists has a rich track record with various Tanzanian music bands, however they decided to join together as TaraJazz whilst teaching or studying at Zanzibar’s Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA).
Not many artists on the island are as committed or disciplined. In between numerous other engagements the band is regularly meeting, rehearsing, experimenting and creating new material, which will never be showcased to the public until those perfect and magical moments are manifest in each of their compositions.
The first major stage performance by TaraJazz was at Sauti za Busara 2019, where their set was literally met with gasps of awe and astonishment. Since then the group has played extensively, at Jahazi Jazz Festival, Alliance Francaise Dar, Ongala Music Festival and various clubs and hotels across Tanzania.
“This is a new sound for the world”, says Hassan Mahenge. “It’s afrojazz, it’s tarajazz, it’s a music movement that’s constantly evolving and branching into new areas. Even we don’t know where the journey will take us, but we are confident it will be to a good and special place”.