Some may have dismissed him as a yesteryear musician, but contemporary jazz musician, composer and vocalist Newman Chipeni has loudly proclaimed that he is still a force to reckon with the release of his new dance album titled "Love is the Way".
The veteran musician, who many will recall made his name with such classical tunes as "Gundamusaira", "Monica", "Mangoromera" and "Chati Huwi" in the late 80s as well as the popular Harare Mambos Band still has the musical touch that saw him make his name on the club scene at a time when clubbing was the in thing.
Sadly mostly of his peers have since gone but others still have memories of his stint at the Wine Barrel at the then Monomotapa Hotel where he played solo and had a legion of followers.
Originally from Mutare, Chipeni grew up on a farm and was hooked onto music from an early age as he joined other musicians who came to the farm to play jazz and popular tunes and would have the occasional chance with such instruments as penny whistles, saxophones, guitars and drums during their tea breaks.
"Love is the Way" is his fourth 10-track album that appeals to both the young and old with danceable tunes integrating some remixes of his classical tunes such as "Tumai Rudo", "Kudendere" and "Monica". Other tracks on the new CD album are the title track "Love is the Way", "Come and Join Us", "African Rock", "Are You Ready And Steady?", "Driving", "Fire Escape" and "I'm All Over You Now".
Having met Chipeni while I was a young man soon after finishing college in the early 90s, it did not take me long to grow an affinity for his rhythm and blues approach as he strummed on his guitar to an accompanying drum machine. He later roped in the late Fortune Muparutsa as a relief solo artiste who did not disappoint at the Wine Barrel.
What most people do not know about Newman Chipeni is that he is a music connoisseur in his own right who is familiar with most musical instruments. He also had a stint as a teacher at the Zimbabwe College of Music and also taught music at Prince Edward School and the Harare International School. Prior to that he had also teamed up with the RUNN Family in Mutare who, at the time did not have instruments and invited them to play as a relief group for an outfit called Crazy Union to which they were much obliged.
On the club circuit gigs in Harare Chipeni joined Sam Banana's Persuaders Band as a bassist, then with Brian Paul and Isaac Chirwa's Touch Band as a keyboard player before joining Harare Mambos as a guitar- ist.
This was followed by the Wine Barrel stint for five years and Manhattan Jazz where he would play jazz, country and western, blues, folk and famous pop standards. It was at this joint that he would jam with legends such as Simangaliso Thutani, Jonnie Papas, Chris Chabuka, John Nyati, Eppias Paradza and others.
He also did some recordings with the late Prince Tendai's Midnite Magic and played other gigs with Michael Lanas, Lesley Tailor and Shafer Khan.