Bakithi Kumalo
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Bakithi Kumalo

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Music

Press


Kumalo’s roots are in a musical family of Soweto, and he was destined to be a musician long before
Paul Simon’s expedition to South Africa. After Graceland brought him to New York, Kumalo became
one of the more in-demand session players for the growing number of American artists looking for an
“African” sound. ...he wisely has tried to create a genuinely original sound for himself, one that fuses his
South African roots with pan-African rhythms, R&B licks, Caribbean melodies, and jazz grooves. ...but it is his bass playing that informs the sound of the music... He stretches the instrument to the limit... Latin and jazz fans will find as much to listen to as “world music” fans.
—Louis Gibson, Amazon.com


Kumalo’s style draws on a broader range of influences from Latin to ambient. This diversity is perhaps
unsurprising for a man whose session career has encompassed both Harry Belafonte and Laurie
Anderson and Kumalo’s musicality has a universal appeal. With an autobiographical theme to most of
the pieces, this is an excellent showcase for Kumalo’s talents. Anyone wishing to keep tabs on his other collaborative projects may care to check out the work he did with onetime Grateful Dead sticksman
and ethnic percussion reasearcher/player par excellence Mickey Hart on the late Tupac Shakur’s movie
Gang Related.
—Roger Thomas, Amazon.co.uk


Growing up during the Apartheid years, Bakithi Kumalo saw nothing in his future but music. As a child,
he learned mbaqanga (a rhythm characteristic of Soweto), mbube (a cappella vocal music) and jive
(electric, urban pop) on bass, drums and acoustic guitar. “Sometimes at schools, the children ask me
how I got to America,” he said. In “Set It Free – A Musical Journey From Apartheid To Freedom” Mr.
Kumalo will use song, music and his personal story to tell of his coming to of age in South Africa.
—Barbara Delatiner, The New York Times


Kumalo came up through the township music scene. By the time Simon found him in Johannesburg, in 1984, Kumalo had paid his dues playing township soul, Zulu traditional pop, mbaqanga and other local styles. His work with the likes of Gloria Estefan, Randy Brecker, Laurie Anderson, and Cyndi Lauper...have
given him a taste of mainstream success...a real shot at the sort of crossover audience so many African
artists crave.
—Banning Eyre, The Boston Phoenix


Bakithi Kumalo’s fretless carries “Home” and “Hand on My Shoulder,” the latter featuring background
vocals by no less than Brian Wilson. Revealing his South African roots, Fig enlists the vocal and playing
skills of Richard Bona and ex-Zawinul guitarist Amit Chaterjee for the soaring “3:4 Folk,” while Bakithi
returns for the horn-laden Capetown traditional “Jan/Feb/March.”
—Chris Jisi, Bass Player Magazine (review, Anton Fig – Figments)


Also backstage was Bakithi Kumalo, my bass player in Bembe Orisha. He played with Planet Drum and is
a monster player from South Africa.
—Mickey Hart, mickeyhart.net


...The album’s focal points include infectious vocal melodies (handled by Kumalo, his wife, Robbi and
others), kaliedoscopic rhythms, and killer, percussion-driven grooves. It’s all held together by Kumalo’s
articulate bass playing, which anchors the sometimes complex compositions and frequently pops with authority.
—Jim Ferguson, Jazz Times Magazine


Loved it, you carry it all so well... So often times the bass is buried beneath the drums and what not. You bring it up where it needs to be. And when papa plays the ladies sway. Take it, Take it, Take it
Awayyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
—Customer review, CDbaby.com


...with the soothing and peaceful music performed by the Bakithi Kumalo Band jetting through the air, I found myself in musical bliss. Mothers were dancing with their babies, jubilant line-dancing and
shimmying could be seen by the end of the night. The wailing of the saxophone inspired a unison of
clapping and arms swaying through the air to “keep the beat”. Whichever way you relaxed, it was a
North Fork event that all enjoyed.
—R.B Stuart, Dan’s Papers


The afternoon will feature a live musical performance with Bakithi Kumalo and the South African All-
Stars. Bakithi is a legendary Bass player who was featured on Paul Simon’s Graceland album, among
other projects. He will be accompanied by some fantastic, equally well-known South African musicians. We’re there.
—newyork.urbanbaby.com


I think he is one of the more interesting world music artists right now...he is really doing a lot of work...he picked up on the rhythms of New York and his music has a sense of play – it’s got sounds from South Africa and the world.
—Suzanne Kincheloe, Qradio


As a finale to three days of Global Peace Concerts, the Bakithi Kumalo Band performed at the University
Cafe. Deep bass tones flooded the evening, as people poured into the venue. The sound of jazz and
traditional South African folk kept the mood buoyant. The cafe percolated and people rose to dance.
—Chris Williams, The Press
- Varied Sources/Bakithi Kumalo


Discography

Visit www.BoneInTheNose.com for more information.

Bakithi Kumalo (2009)
Change
(upcoming solo album)

Bakithi Kumalo
Transmigration (2006)
Bass, vocals, co-producer

Bakithi Kumalo
In Front of My Eyes (2000)
Synthesizer, Bass, Percussion, Vocals, Producer, Liner Notes

San Bonan (1998)
Synthesizer, Bass, Percussion, Vocals, Producer, Liner Notes

Robbi Kumalo
Set it Free (2000)
Synthesizer, Bass, Percussion, Vocals, Co - Producer

Robbi Kumalo
Keep The Beat! (2003)
Synthesizer, Bass, Percussion, Vocals, Co - Producer

Cyndi Lauper
Night to Remember (1989)
Guitar (Bass)

Cyndi Lauper
Hat Full of Stars (1992)
Bass

Cyndi Lauper
She's So Unusual/True Colors/Hat... (1997)
Bass

Miriam Makeba
Eyes on Tomorrow (1991)
Bass

Ratau Mike Makhalemele
Very Best of Ratau Mike... (2003)
Bass

Felicia Marion
Compassion (1999)
Bass

Hugh Masekela
Uptownship (1988)
Guitar (Bass)

Hugh Masekela
Beatin' Aroun De Bush (1992)
Guitar (Bass), Vocals (bckgr)

Hugh Masekela
Hope (1993)
Bass, Vocals

Hugh Masekela
Best of Hugh Masekela on Novus (1999)
Bass, Vocals (bckgr)

Pat McGuire
Love Songs for Astronauts (2000)
Guitar (Bass)

McCoy Mrubata
Jive Jazz Collection, Vol. 2:... (1989)
Bass

Danny Paradise
River of the Soul (2000)
Fretless Bass

Barney Rachabane
Jive Jazz Collection, Vol. 1:... (1989)
Bass

Ruben Rada
Montevideo (1997)
Bass

Ruben Rada
Montevideo Dos (2001)
Bass

Samite
Silina Musango (1996)
Guitar (Bass)

Samite
Stars to Share (1999)
Bass

Samite
Tunula Eno (2003)
Bass

Paul Simon
Graceland (1986)
Bass

Paul Simon
Negotiations and Love Songs 1971... (1988)
Bass

Paul Simon
Rhythm of the Saints (1990)
Bass

Paul Simon
1964-1993 (1993)
Bass

Mickey Hart & Planet Drum
Supralingua (1998)
Bass (Electric), Drums, Vocals, Drums (Steel), Shekere, Wood Block

Mickey Hart
Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge (2002)
Bass (Electric)

David Hewitt
African Tapestry (1991)
Bass

Mel Holder
Now & Forever (1999)
Bass

Eileen Ivers
Crossing the Bridge (1999)
Bass, Fretless Bass

Eileen Ivers
Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul (2003)
Bass, Arranger, Vocals (bckgr)

Sharon Katz & the Peace...
Imbizo (2002)
Bass

Angélique Kidjo
Oremi (1998)
Bass

Paul Simon
Songs From the Capeman (1997)
Bass

Paul Simon
Greatest Hits: Shining Like a... (2000)
Bass

Paul Simon
You're the One (2000)
Bass

Grover Washington, Jr.
Soulful Strut (1996)
Vocals

Paul Winter
Celtic Solstice (1999)
Bass

Original Soundtrack
People (1995)
Bass

Original Soundtrack
Caught (1996)
Bass

Various Artists
RCA Victor 80th Anniversary (1997)
Bass, Guitar

Various Artists
Summer Solstice, Vol. 2 (1998)
Fretless Bass

Various Artists
Music for the New Millennium (2000)
Bass, Vocals, Vocals (bckgr), Fretless Bass

Jay Beckenstein
Eye Contact

Mickey Hart
Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge

Mickey Hart & Planet Drum
Supralingua

Hugh Masekela
Beatin' Around De Bush

Hugh Masekela
Best of Hugh Masekela on Novus

Barney Rachabane
Jive Jazz Collection, Vol. 1: Barney's

Various Artists
Music for the New Millennium

Laurie Anderson
Strange Angels (1989)
Bass, Fretless Bass

Laurie Anderson
Talk Normal: The Laurie Anderson... (2000)
Fretless Bass

Joan Baez
No Woman No Cry (1989)
Bass

Jay Beckenstein
Eye Contact (2000)
Chant

Tony Bird
Sorry Africa (1990)
Bass

Chris Botti
Midnight Without You (1997)
Bass

Chris Botti
Very Best of Chris Botti (2002)
Bass

Randy Brecker
Into the Sun (1995)
Bass, Fretless Bass

Edie Brickell
Picture Perfect Morning (1994)
Bass

Edie Brickell
Ultimate Collection (2002)
Bass

Hiram Bullock
Carrasco (1997)
Bass

John Capek & the Family of
Indaba (1991)
Bass

Chico César
Chico César (2000)
Bass

Armsted Christian
Wave Is Coming (1999)
Bass

Bam Crawford's Purpose
Book of Life (2000)
Guitar

Vieux Diop
Afrika Wassa (2000)
Bass

Gloria Estefan
Destiny (1996)
Bass

Gloria Estefan
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (2001)
Bass

Mike Faure
Voice of the Wind (1995)
Bass

Freddy Gardner
Japanese Sandman (2000)
Bass

Herbie Hancock
Gershwin's World (1998)
Bass

Herbie Hancock
Gershwin's World [Japan] (1998)
Bass, Guitar

Photos

Bio

Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Bakithi Kumalo is a Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer, and vocalist who has collaborated with Paul Simon, Laurie Anderson, Cyndi Lauper, Herbie Hancock, Hugh Masekela, Josh Groban, Bob James, Randy Brecker, Chaka Khan, and many others. Thought of by many as one of the most talented living bassists, Kumalo possesses a unique musical style reflecting influences from around the world, including South African traditional folk, contemporary jazz, salsa, and electronica.

The noted South African multi-instrumentalist first came to the attention of the American public in 1986, following the release of Paul Simon's epochal "Graceland" album, where his precise and sinuous bass lines thundered out a death-knell for apartheid and made critics around the world sit up and take notice.

Bakithi grew up in Johannesburg's notorious yet celebrated Soweto Township. He began filling in for his uncle's bass player as a small child, embarking on an 18-month tour of Zululand at age 10. Upon his return to Soweto, the young prodigy began to accumulate studio gigs but record companies were exploitative and money was tight. Despite these obstacles, Bakithi had achieved a major rep by 1985, when Paul Simon came calling. It was decided that "Graceland" should be completed in New York and today Bakithi lives in the USA and maintains a busy schedule scoring TV shows like LIFE IS WILD (WB) and singing TV jingles.

Aside from his ongoing relationship with Simon, he has recorded and/or toured with Gloria Estefan, Jonathan Butler, Chris Botti, Ruben Rada, Harry Belefonte, Paul Winters, Miriam Makeba, Eileen Ivers, Grover Washington Jr., Vieux Diop, Laurie Anderson, Angelique Kidjo, Jon Secada, Samite, Mickey Hart, and Brazil's Chico Caesar. Kumalo has kept active as a solo artist, with three fine albums to his credit (2007's ‘Transmigration', 2000's 'In Front of My Eyes', 1998's 'San' Bonan'), as well as three Awards winning children's albums recorded with his wife, vocalist Robbi K. He releases his much-anticipated 6th solo recording, Changes, on November 18th, 2008.

BAKITHI'S AVAILABLE FOR BLOCK BOOKED COLLEGES, PERFORMING ARTS CENTERS, JAZZ FESTIVALS, PRIVATE PARTIES, CORPORATE EVENTS, RECORDING, SCORING, TV/RADIO JINGLES, AND SESSION WORK.

“The album’s focal points include infectious vocal melodies (handled by Kumalo, his wife, Robbi and others), kaleidoscopic rhythms, and killer, percussion-driven grooves. It’s all held together by Kumalo’s articulate bass playing, which anchors the sometimes complex compositions and frequently pops with authority”
—Jim Ferguson -- Jazz Times Magazine

“Bakithi Kumalo, my bass player in Bembe Orisha, (Planet Drum) - is a monster player!”
—Mickey Hart – www.mickeyhart.net