The Texture of Silence

Cara Stacey, Keenan Ahrends, Mzwandile Buthelezi

The Texture of Silence explores the interface between composed and improvised music and visual art. It brings together various indigenous southern African musical instruments, jazz language, graphic notation for music and the visual explorations of artist Mzwandile Buthelezi. Across disciplines, Cara Stacey, Keenan Ahrends, Mzwandile Buthelezithese use this project to explore both fixed ideas and spontaneous responses and in this way create new music. In a space dominated by male jazz ensembles or dated classical repertoire, this trio concert aims to complicate what ‘composing’ means, to tease out the less common creative spaces – where nyungwe-nyungwe meets charcoal, where musical bow frequencies hum around guitar lines, where dense harmonies follow moving line.

  • Genre: Jazz
  • Format: Video
  • Duration: 40mins
  • Language: n/a
  • Ages: PG
  • Available From: July 4, 2020
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Composers: Cara Stacey, Keenan Ahrends, Mzwandile Buthelezi
Guitar: Keenan Ahrends
Piano, nyungwe-nyungwe, umrhubhe, umtshingo: Cara Stacey
Visual art: Mzwandile Buthelezi
Videography: Romy Brauteseth, Marcus Wyatt


Keenan Ahrends is a jazz guitarist and composer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has toured extensively both within South Africa and internationally. He has performed with prominent musicians such as Louis Moholo, Feya Faku, Thandi Ntuli, Malcolm Braff, Andile Yenana, Carlo Mombelli, Afrika Mkhize, Herbie Tsoaeli, Buddy Wells, Mark Fransman, Shane Cooper, and SOMI. Notable performances have been at the Birds Eye Jazz Club (Basel, Switzerland), the Amersfoort Jazz Festival (The Netherlands), the Cape Town international Jazz Festival, Reunion Island Ocus Pocus Festival, the Joy of Jazz Festival, the Edge of Wrong festival, and the Standard Bank Youth Jazz Festival. In 2017 Ahrends released his debut album Narrative (featuring Romy Brauteseth, Claude Cozens, Sisonke Xonti, Nicholas Williams) to critical acclaim. Keenan is known for his evocative musical writing, his emotive improvisation, and his sensitive musicianship. He remains an important part of the emerging southern African jazz arena and his flagship sound can be heard on numerous albums and in a diverse plethora of projects.

Cara Stacey is a South African musician and researcher. She is a pianist and plays southern African musical bows (umrhubhe, uhadi, makhweyane). She holds a doctorate in African music, specifically looking at the makhweyane musical bow from eSwatini (University of Cape Town/SOAS). Cara studied various African instruments (makhweyane, mbira, uhadi, umrhubhe and budongo) with Dizu Plaatjies, Khokhiwe Mphila, Bhemani Magagula, Tinashe Chidanyika, Modou Diouf, and Andrew Cooke. Beyond her solo performance work, Cara collaborates with percussionist and drummer Sarathy Korwar and is a member of the Night Light Collective, and Gold Fox. Her debut album Things that Grow features Shabaka Hutchings, Seb Rochford, Ruth Goller, and Crewdson (released in September 2015, Kit Records). Her album Ceder is of her duo project with Peruvian flutist and composer Camilo Ángeles (2018) and her collaborative album Like the Grass (with Galina Juritz, Beat Keller and Antonia Ravens) will be released by Kit Records in July 2020. Cara has performed across southern Africa, in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Peru, the USA and Switzerland with the likes of Shabaka Hutchings, Sarathy Korwar, Dan Leavers, Galina Juritz, Natalie Mason, Beat Keller, Matchume Zango, Jason Singh and Juliana Venter.

Mzwandile Buthelezi is a Johannesburg-based multidisciplinary artist born in Soweto in 1981. He is renowned for the singularity of his illustrations, which bring together jazz and art in a piercing way that reaches both the spirit and mind. Mzwandile’s distinct artistic language results in artworks that are in dynamic conversation with musical compositions. He is a seasoned scholar of jazz, artistic disruption and an enabler of new narratives that usurp the expected and lift us above the tired framings of our current and future identities as Africans in the global consciousness. Mzwandile’s artworks broker a dialogue between present and future, the ancestral past in a parallel dialogue with the past awoken and the future as a reality unfolding. In this way, he lifts and shifts us away from the confines of our narrow existence and delivers us into the new place of entanglement. Known for his striking jazz album cover artworks, Mzwandile has worked with some of the best jazz musicians, which include Nduduzo Makhathini, Thandi Ntuli, Mandla Mlangeni, Shabaka Hutchings, Salim Washington, and Benjamin Jephta, to name a few. He is also part of a three-piece band with fellow band members Tumi Mogorosi and Pule Pheto. In the band, Buthelezi creates improvised artworks through which he interprets the live music.