Washington brought together musicians whom he felt shared his sentiments about music and life.
Said Washington: ‘The inspiration for the ensemble came from the Sankofa bird, a Ghanian symbol of the return of diasporic Africans to the motherland. The Sankofa band is a true representation of moving forward while looking back.’
Accompanying Washington were Jazz Pianist, Nduduzo Makhathini, Drummer, Ayanda Sikade, Bass Player, UKZN student Dalisu Ndlazi, Trumpeter, Siyanda Zulu, and Leon Scharnick on alto and tenor saxophone.
Washington was on tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet and oboe.
In some selections, the six piece band also featured a four strong voice section which brought an operatic element to the jazz sounds.
The numbers performed consisted of original compositions by Washington.
Explaining his aesthetic goals, he said: ‘I have had many years of experience playing in various size jazz ensembles, performing at festivals and other gigs throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. The scope of what I want to say musically and socially requires a larger platform. I am now using multiple horns and multiple voices as well as a slightly expanded rhythm section.’
‘It is my ultimate goal to have the jazz band expanded by a Philharmonic Orchestra, a South African choir, and a Pan African percussion ensemble, with styles ranging from West African to Cuban and Brazilian influences. The vocal component should also include poetry, which not only makes a nice bridge between semantic content and music, but also gives vent to direct social commentary to complement the music.’
The Sankofa Band has also performed in Johannesburg at the Afrikan Freedom Station and The Orbit.
Their highly anticipated album is due for release later this year.