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Tony Cedras

 

TONY CEDRAS - from Maine to Mannenberg to Moscow, the millions who attended and enjoyed Paul Simonís multi-cultural Graceland  extravaganza may not have yet heard of  South Africa native Tony Cedras - but they have heard him.  Every night on the incredibly popular, two-installment world tours (1987 & 1989), the first music heard - the driving accordion that kicked off The Boy in the Bubble  - belonged to the multi-talented South African keyboardist who has played alongside Sime, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Harry Belafonte, Henry Threadgill, and many others since leaving South Africa in 1987.

Combining classical and jazz training with a personal mixture of world beat influences - Brazilian, Caribbean and of course African - Cedras has been recognized as the next in line to the great South African jazz tradition of Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim), Kippie Moketsi and others.  He is a multi-instrumental performer and composer whose talents are as in demand in the studio (Cedras has recorded with:  Simon, Masekela, Mekeba, Belafonte, Threadgill, Ziggy Marley, Joan Baez, Milton Nascimento, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Cassandra Wilson, Samite, Jonathan Butler, etc.) as they are on stage.

Born in Elsieís River, Cape Province, South Africa in 1952, Cedras was the last of eight children and grew up in a strict household that placed high emphasis on education and religion.  His first exposure to music was in his churchís youth choir, singing and playing accordion.  By high school he was immersed in trumpet lessons with local jazzmen, picking up on the music of Clifford Brown and other American jazz stars.

Cedras soon became one of the central figures in the Cape jazz scene, performing and recording with: tenor saxophonist Winston Mankunku, guitarist Jonathan Butler, altoist Robbie Jansen, bassist Basil Moses and flutist Russell Herman.  By 1982, Cedras began touring throughout Southern Africa - Johannesburg, Durban, Zimbabwe - and finally settled in Gaberone, Botswana where he found the regionís most vital music scene.  Performing mostly solo, Cedrasí reputation spread, and he soon became a tremendous favorite.  After joining forces with veteran trombonist/composer/ arranger Jonas Gwangwa, whose musical Amandla  was receiving international attention, he soon embarked on an international tour with the company, visiting most of Europe, Canada and Brazil (but interestingly not the United States).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduced to the rich ethnic cross- pollination in London during the Amandla  tour, Cedras moved there in 1985, forming Kintone, a group that came together and explored the common musical ground between its West Indian and South African membership.  Kintone eventually recorded two albums for Sterns Africa and gigged extensively around the UK, but after two years Cedras returned to Southern Africa to join another musical project led by composer/performers Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu.

It was in Zimbabwe in January of 1987 that the midnight call came through, Cedras had been recommended by Hugh Masekela (who had heard of him by reputation) to Paul Simon who was putting together a Graceland  band to tour following the unexpected success of the Graceland  album.  After that Cedras barely had time to unpack his suitcase, touring with Simon from 1987 through 1989 with Graceland; and from 1990 -1992 with Simonís globe-hopping follow-up Born at the Right Time  tour (including a triumphant return home to Cape Town), as well as a month run in October 1993 at Madison Square Gardenís Paramount Theatre with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in the Concert of a Lifetime.  When not with Simon, he accompanied Graceland  mates Miriam Makeba (1988 and 1989) and Hugh Masekela (1988 through 1990) as well as Harry Belafonte in 1993 and Henry Threadgill in 1994.

Tony Cedras currently resides in his Brooklyn, New York home with his wife and daughter.  Recorded in studios throughout the world, Tonyís first solo album VISION OVER PEOPLE  was released on Gorilla Records and distributed by Caroline Records.  He can be seen leading his own band in venues around the city featuring stellar sidemen from the various groups he has performed with including:  Chris Botti (trumpet), Bakithi Khumalo (bass), Damon Duewhite (drums) Cyro Baptista (percussion), Morris Goldberg (alto sax) and various guest soloists.

 

 

For booking information:

Mark Rivas/Jan Wenk

308 6th Street

Brooklyn, NY 11215

(718) 369-1177

 

 

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