Eric Palilani celebrates milestones after homecoming

Erik Paliani

Jazz maestro Erik Palilani has said the biggest achievement he has done since his homecoming is the establishment of the first jazz festival in the country along with friends of his.

Palilani, an internationally acclaimed musician, said coming home and working on such projects has been fulfilling for him as he had always wanted to contribute to the industry in the country.

He said he had accomplished everything he sought out to in South African and felt there was more to do in his homeland.

“I had reached a ceiling and South Africa was not bringing anything to satisfy my journey further.”

Highlighting some of the people he had played with, Palilani mentioned the likes of the late continental jazz legend Hugh Masekela, an experience which he said was thrilling although playing jazz in Malawi has given him newfound inspiration.

“I wanted to play in South Africa festivals but coming home I have been able to do some things that I was not able to do there. I have been able to be a part of a team creating the first ever jazz festival, you can not achieve that in South Africa, they have festivals there that are 30 like years old, you can not compete with that,” he said.

“I took a calculated risk, I knew I will be leaving the comfort of Rands for Kwachas but personally, as a Malawian musician at the point I was deciding to come home and do some work, I had achieved what I had wanted in what I call the side A of life.”

“I really came to create my CV here and fill it,” he said.

Paliani added that he also had ambitions to play with fellow Malawians.

He said he plans on taking the genre on a college tour so that young people can appreciate the music.

“We are trying to bring the gap between the youngsters into jazz and the old to be fresh again.”

Describing the music itself, he said Malawians play ‘jungle jazz’ which is unique.

“It has an edge, a bit of rural,” he said, adding that South African jazz is more classical and intellectual.

“here, we are blending the music, it has snippets of rock, hip hop. We are creating something that Malawians can own, something Malawian but also that can also be embraced internationally,” he said.

He said Malawians can learn from South Africa who believe that the music should be learned. They have an era of artists willing to come over here and uplift themselves.

He said he has introduced some other artists from the rainbow nation to the rhythms of Malawian music.

“Jazz teaches you communication of what you are doing. It’s a tool, it’s a language that can bring in a lot of things.”