The music fraternity yesterday woke up to news of the passing of one of the solid jazz music pioneers in Malawi Isaac Mkukupa.
According to his daughter Rudo, the late Mkukupa succumbed to Covid-19 complications and dementia.
He was based in Nottingham, England where apart from music, he was a reputable pastor.
In an interview yesterday, Rudo said her father’s remains will be buried in the UK, but said details of his funeral programme will be announced later.
Meanwhile, tributes have been pouring in following news of Mkukupa’s death.
Jazz artist Erik Paliani praised Mkukupa for his interest in contemporary jazz and singled him out as the only Malawian who was able to play the upright bass guitar.
“He is such a historical figure. He believed that jazz needed to have class. Even his dressing showed. Together with members of his band, they were always in suits. He encouraged people to read and write music,” he said.
Paliani lamented that with the death of people such as Mkukupa and Wambali Mkandawire—who died in January this year—Malawi is losing out on information and knowledge which would have been a point of reference on the country’s music history.
He said: “It is sad that we don’t have institutions that can quantify their quality. But Isaac was a jazz professor. He was a man who could play jazz anywhere in the world. He was a music intellectual. He read music vastly.
“He is one person who deserved to be with the University of Malawi to allow him to share his knowledge. It is pointless for one to say Isaac is a legend when you don’t know anything about his art.”
In one of his commentaries, journalist-cum-legal practitioner Peter Makossah described Mkukupa as a man who lived, breathed and thought music and an encyclopedia of Malawi and world music.
And on his death, he said: “His contribution to Malawi music is immense. He has been consistent from the yesteryears till the last mile. He has taught many the art of music. He was disciplined and passionate. He always gave music and Malawi a good name.”
Musician Lawi wrote on his Facebook page: “He influenced my music journey since I was born. He was more than a music mentor, but also a father. It is sad, but I am grateful for his life and influence. He inspired a great musician in me. He was a gift to the world.”
Mkukupa’s music story dates back to his days as a key player for his musical outfit TruTones Band. He is also credited for the formation of another jazz group Touch of Class Band which he formed in 1969 alongside other members such as Rick Deja and Don Mlenga.
Locally, he will be remembered for his prominence during the jazz sessions at the Jazz Café, Hotel Chisakalime and Sunbird Mount Soche. In UK, Mkukupa played with international bands such as Morgan Heritage, King Sounds and artists such as Lionel Richie.
He comes from a music tree which also had brothers Wellington who plied his trade with Love Aquarius Band and CheNasawu. He was also a member of Super Kaso Band. His daughter Rudo is another musical figure from the Mkukupa roots.
Mkukupa was born on December 9 1943 in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is survived by a wife and seven children. His parents came from Salima District.