South African jazz guitarist Sipho Gumede died in Durban, South Africa on July 27 after a short illness. He was 47.
Gumede arrived on the local music scene during the 1970s and quickly gained a reputation for his distinctive style of play and discipline in the jazz genre. He joined Sakhile, an Afro-jazz band, and toured South Africa with the band extensively before going solo in 1984.
Over the years he played with some of the industry’s great artists, including Hugh Masekela, Harry Belafonte, Letta Mbulu, Abdullah Ibrahim and Brenda Fassie.
Earlier this year, Gumede and the Sakhile band members got together again to record a one-off album, “Togetherness,” and had been performing together to promote the album. Gumede also completed the album “Blues For My Mother” two months ago, which sold 25,000 copies within weeks.
Veteran jazz pianist Theo Bophela recalled the respect with which Gumede treated his musical instruments. “You could say that he treated his guitar with reverence. He was a dedicated musician who appeared in multiracial gigs in defiance of the apartheid laws.”