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Ezra Ngcukana Funeral
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Ngcukana, Ezra (South Africa)  
Ezra Ngcukana, © S.Gordon 2005

BORN in 1954 in Port Elizabeth, Ezra Ngcukana returned with his mother to Cape Town’s Langa township, where he was raised.

Growing up as son to baritone saxophonist Christopher “Mra” Columbus Ngcukana, Ezra was exposed to a variety of live and recorded music, and, like many brass players, started out on trumpet at the age of 10. He progressed to the c-melody saxophone, before moving to alto, and eventually settling on tenor and soprano saxophones.

By his early teens, he was jamming and playing in his first bands, with the pianist Roger Khoza amongst his earliest collaborators. He also jammed with his siblings, including older brother Duke (trumpeter, choirmaster and educationist), Fitzroy (now a music promoter), the late Ray (a singer and arranger who added a lyrical dimension to many of pianist Tete Mbambisa’s compositions).

Ezra matriculated at the relatively young age of 17, and, and went to the University of Fort Hare. However, it was a time of political resistance, and Ezra, along with his entire class, were expelled from the University. Seeing little prospect in a professional music career, Ezra continued with his academic studies by correspondence, attaining a BSc and a B Comm from UNISA.

Instrumentation:
Saxophone
Genre: jazz, African Jazz
He worked for BP in Cape Town through the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s, all the time continuing his musical development and passion after hours. Although he recorded with many artists, it was only in 1989 that he recorded his own album, “You Think You Know Me”, named for the composition popularised by the late exiled Blue Notes trumpeter, Mongezi Feza.

Ezra Ngcukana performs in a number of configurations, and is incredibly active. Whilst he lists McCoy Tyner and John Coltrane amongst his favourites, he also draws heavily on the sounds of the Eastern Cape, and the choral voicings indigenous to South Africa. He regularly shares the stage with his brother Duke Ngcukana (trumpet), cousin Cyril Ngcukana (keyboards), or alongside fellow Cape-based musicians such as Winston Mankunku Ngozi, and Robbie Jansen.

Ezra Ngcukana with Mankunku © S.Gordon 2000
In 1999, Ezra he formed the “Little Giants” a youth band / project, offering tuition to young teenagers. Together with pianist George Werner, he offers musical direction to this project, which has been presented and performed on platforms including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. During 2010, he performed at Grahamstown Festival, together with Robbie Jansen and George Werner.



Biography © Steve Gordon

Contact Details:

www.littlegiants.co.za


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