Bheki Mseleku: Sa Jazz Pianist Found Fame in Europe


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The death this week of an accomplished jazz musician has highlighted how South Africans tend to overlook local talent.

Friends and family say Bheki Mseleku received greater recognition in Europe and the US than at home. He won awards overseas, but could not get a decent gig at home.

He had to return to Europe to continue with his musical career.

Durban-born Mseleku - a pianist, guitarist, saxophonist, vocalist and composer - died on Tuesday in London, where he had lived with his wife, Nomvula Ndlazulwa, and their children. He had been diabetic for years.

Langa Mseleku, Bheki's older brother, said his brother had been influenced by their father, a composer and performer.

Bheki played his father's piano and then tried other musical instruments while at Lamontville High.

His break came as an electric organ player in Johannesburg in 1975.

Langa said Bheki started with the Spirits Rejoice group, which featured such greats as the late Sipho Gumede, Juke Makasi, Mervyn Afrika and George Tyefumani. They toured and played at various venues abroad.

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