Based: Cape Town
The Unity Band is comprised of Thandeka Dladla, Steve De Souza, Lilavan Gangen, Dylan Fine, Lonwabo Mafani, Ofenste Moshoetsi, Marco Maritz and Lumanyano Mzi. A young vibrant collective formed at the UCT South African Collage of Music. The band is a collection of Jazz, Fusion, Hip Hop, African and World Music.
The band has played at some of Cape Towns Jazz venues such as, The Crypt Jazz Restaurant and The Great Wizoo, Jazz In The Native Yards joined by the legendary McCoy Mrubata, Artscape Band Stand Festival joined by Mandisi Dyantyis.
Drums/Vocals/Bandleader: Lumanyano Mzi
Cape Town Drummer/Composer/ Multi-instrumentalist, Lumanyano has been playing since the age of six. He grew up in a musical family. His father was and still is a Reggae musician. His career started when the drummer in his father’s band was not available. Lumanyano is largely a self-taught musician and has been playing professionally since the age of 14 with local bands including his father’s band. Lumanyano toured and performed with some local and international artist/bands such as: Sibongile Khumalo, Zoe Modiga, UCT Big Band, Darryl Andrews Big Band, Nomfundo Xaluva, Dena DeRose, Luciano, Gentlman, Nomadic Orchestra, Guy Collins, Blake Hellaby, Mandisi Dyantyisi and Nkulee Dube to name a few. Lumanyano is currently finishing his final year of Jazz performance at the South African Collage of Music University of Cape Town.
Bass: Stephen “Stevovo” de Souza
Stephen de Souza was born in Durban and later relocated to Johannesburg where he started his musical career at the age of seven. He was introduced to the cello at his school and eventually moved on to play the double bass. After a while he picked up the bass guitar and found an undying love for jazz, fusion and funk, gathering inspiration from bass players such as Marcus Miller, Jaco Pastorius and Victor Wooten.
He is currently in his 3rd year studying Jazz Performance at UCT. Since moving to Cape Town Stephen has performed all over the city and has played in a few projects, like the Darryl Andrew’s big band, the Little Giant’s Big Band as well as his proudly Capetonian rock/ska band Money for Bali.
Vocals: Thandeka Dladla
Thandeka is a vocalist and saxophonist in her 4th year in Jazz Vocal Performance major at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. Her professors and mentors include Amanda Tiffin, and John Davids.
Thandeka leads her own quartet in performances in South Africa and is also a part of the UCT Jazz Voices. She performed at the 2016 Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival in Grahamstown as part of the festival’s vocal ensemble led by Justin Binek and has sung at various venues including the Cape Town International Conference Centre.
Piano/Keys: Lonwabo Diba Mafani
Lonwabo started playing piano at the age of sixteen. His first piano teacher was his brother, Sabatha Mafani who taught him the basics of piano playing. He has had numerous teachers over the years Dr Nishlyn Ramanna, Kinsley Buitendag and Annali Smith just to mention a few but is largely self-taught. In 2014 he was selected as the pianist for the Standard Bank National B Band directed by Brian Thusi and was re-selected in 2015 under the leadership of Mark Fransman. Lonwabo has performed as a secessionist pianist around the country, he has worked with likes of Lulama Gaulana, Hugh Masekela, Kingsley Buitendag, Chris Thorpe, Sakhile Simani and Gareth Walwyn, Emanual Pitsiladis to mention a few and now enrolled as a student at the university of Cape Town studying music.
Guitar: Dylan Fine
Having started playing the guitar at the age of 13, now 23, Dylan Fine through diligence and passion has developed into a talented young guitar player fusing modern and contemporary sounds for a unique voice in the jazz idiom. His versatility and adept approach to an array of genres has seen him perform with a variety of artists in all of South Africa’s major cities and abroad. He is a regular in the Cape Town jazz scene appearing with his Jazz quartet who he has a residency at the Old Biscuit Mill. With rock band The Liminals he has appeared at SA’s major festivals such as Oppikopi and Rocking the Daisies as well as Cape town Electronic Music festival and The Baxter and Endler concert halls as a session musician. He is a talented songwriter with his song “Indigo” going No. 1 on TUKS fm. His electronic duo Beat Sampras has seen him tour the country brushing shoulders with international headliners and getting regular airplay on SAs top radio stations including 5fm. He is currently completing a BMus degree in Jazz Performance at the University of Cape Town.
Trumpet: Marco Maritz
Marco Maritz is in his final year of Jazz Performance and Education at the SACM University of Cape Town. Marco has been playing around Cape Town with artist such as Mike Rossi, Mike Campbell Big Band, and working as a session musicians around Cape Town. Early this year won the FMR competition, and played with the James Morrison Big Band at the National Youth Jazz Festival Grahamstown. Marco spends most of his time teaching and mentoring young musicians
Lilavan Gangen: Percussion
Lilavan is a Cape Town born musician, specialising in drum set and percussion. He has been musically involved from a young age, growing up in the Hindu community surrounded by traditional Indian music.
Lilavan grew musically throughout his school career, performing as a drummer and vocalist in various ensembles at Rondebosch Boys Schools. While perusing a degree in Jazz Performance (Drum set) at the South African College of Music, Lilavan started getting involved with Western Classical, Latin and Indian percussion playing – joining the UCT Percussion Ensemble.Lilavan performs regularly as a drummer and/or percussionist in the Cape Town music scene.
Alto Saxophone: Ofentse Moshwetsi
Ofentse is a young saxophonist from Klerksdorp (North West province), South Africa. Currently in his second year, he is studying music full-time at the South African College of Music (University of Cape Town), majoring in Jazz Performance. Ofentse is a member of the UCT Big Band 2017 and has been since 2016. He considers it a prestigious opportunity to be a part of the University Big Band. He uses his time at home, in Klerksdorp, to help tutor classes and conduct workshops at CAFCA Matlosana music project, to give back to the one place he owes his musical opportunities and achievements to, the best way he knows how…through music.
The band plays an array of jazz, with influences of African Jazz, Fussion, Pop, Hip Hop, mordern jazz and contemporary jazz, playing orignal music and as well as paying homage to some of the greats in the music industry.