Adérito Gomate, iconic jazz pianist and beloved teacher, dies at 57

Zambézia-born pianist Adérito Gomate, who died on Friday in Maputo Central Hospital after a cardiopulmonary arrest, was passionate about jazz, and influenced the sound of the iconic ‘Alambique’ band he co-founded in 1984, together with eclectic composers like Hortêncio Langa, Arão Litsure and Childo Tomás, the bass player I once spotted at Time Out magazine in New York and went to see, with Omar Sosa, at the Blue Note in the bohemian corners of Greenwich Village.

Adérito Gomate was born on 22 July 1963, in the city of Quelimane, Zambézia province.

He studied music at the Centre for Cultural Studies, specializing in piano and guitar. The Centre for Cultural Studies was the embryo of the National School of Music, the Escola Secundária General Machado of colonial times, and operated where today stands the headquarters of the Pedagogical University (UP). After completing the course, and throughout his professional life, Adérito worked as a pianist at the hotels Andalucia, Polana and Avenida. He dedicated himself to teaching, at the Maputo International School and elsewhere, and collaborated with the National Institute for the Development of Education in the production of music textbooks.

The trigger for the creation of Alambique was a 1979 tour of Cuba, Jamaica and Guyana, on which Hortêncio and Arão watched Third World, the Jamaican reggae fusion band formed in 1973, play in Jamaica. At the time, Langa and Litsure were playing in a duo, but they realised then that just their two guitars would not be able to do everything they had started to conceive of, and started to think about putting together a larger ensemble.

According to Arão Litsure therefore, Alambique resulted, to a large extent, from his and Hortêncio’s musical growth, with already significant experience of performing, and with the stimulus of that memorable show in Jamaica by Peter Tosh’s Third World.

Arão and Hortêncio were both cautious and rigorous in the selection and recruitment of band members, and held numerous auditions before reaching the final composition of the group. Tiago Langa, who was a teacher at the music school, was one of the pianists who passed through the band in these early stages, and with whom they recorded some material. Alexandre (Alex) Honwana, a great jazz enthusiast, scholar and music researcher and who sang Gregorian music, and Mundinho (Edmundo Gomes), an experienced pianist, also played with Alambique.

Adérito Gomate was invited to play in the band after giving a concert with Soviet musicians in Mozambique followed by a jam session which Hortêncio also attended. This led him to realise that Adérito was able to align himself and integrate with the spirit of Alambique, and he was invited to be Alambique’s pianist, which he remained until his death.

A note from Alambique highlights his “musical sensitivity and knowledge” and a contribution of “great value in pursuing the objectives of innovating and modernising Mozambican music inside and outside the country”.

By Marcelo Mosse with Aíssa Issak

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