Lists, The Booth

The Booth: Carlo Mombelli Shares A Haunting & Profound Mix

Carlo Mombelli Original Image by Reza Khota

The South African composer/bassist, Carlo Mombelli has recorded and performed at many international festivals, including the Rome Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival, the Stockholm Jazz Festival, the German Moers and the ‘Leipziger Jazztage’ festivals, Banlieues Bleues festival in Paris, the ‘On the edge of Wrong’ festival in Norway.

He worked for two years with the Paris based company Lutherie Urbaine on community projects building instruments from recycled material. Back home in South Africa he can be heard as a bassist on many recordings with amongst others, Marcus Wyatt, Simphiwe Dana, Sibongile Khumalo, Kyle Shepherd and Miriam Makeba. As a producer he worked on the Shane Cooper album Oscillations that won the jazz album of the year at the 2014 SAMA awards.

Besides performing, composing and recording, Mombelli has been involved in music education for many years. In 1998 and 1999 he held a teaching post at the Richard-Strauss Conservatoire in Munich, Germany. Since then he has taught and run ensembles at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Jazz Musik Akademie in Basel Switzerland. In 2015, he led the prestigious DKSJ-all-star-project with thirteen Masters students studying jazz in Switzerland.

He currently teaches at Wits University in Johannesburg where he received his doctorate in composition in 2009. His 2016 album, I Press My Spine To The Ground was rated as one of BBC Radio’s Best Albums of 2016. Catch him at OppiKoppi on Saturday 7 October.


Each month we invite a South African musician to join us in The Booth to see what they’re bumping, to get a sense of where the magic (partly) comes from. With Rocking The Daisies and OppiKoppi almost upon us, we decided to invite a handful of musicians who will be performing at the respective festivals to join us for a special festival edition of The Booth, where we will feature one artist each day leading up to festival weekend.

This edition investigates Carlo Mombelli’s playlist, sharing 5 tracks that he’s into, in no particular order:

Paul Motion Trio – ‘Osmosis Part III’

This is [the first track off] my all-time number one album [I Have The Room Above Her]. The way the music floats in a silence, it’s how I want to play music.

Björk – ‘Vökuró’

The Icelandic singer has been one of my favourites for years. This song touches my soul every time I listen to it.

Kyle Shepherd Trio – ‘Dream State’

Kyle is one of the most spiritual musicians that I have played with and I love listening to his trio with two of my other favourite musicians, Shane Cooper on Bass and Jono Sweetman on drums.

The Bad Plus – ‘Prehensile Dream’

This track starts with this drum groove and I love the sound of the Kick drum. Then these haunting arpeggios enter on the piano. The bass enters and it builds to such a climax you need to scream in the silence just before the forte. It’s an amazing build up. I was fortunate to perform on the same festival with them in Sweden and saw them live, it was incredible.

Kate Tempest – ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’

I discovered Kate Tempest when we were both chosen by the BBC radio for a top 12 playlist last year. She is an amazing young British poet.


Watch Carlo Mombelli live at The Mahogony Room in 2014 (which became Straight No Chaser before closing in 2016) below, and check out our last #FestivalBooth feature, Bongeziwe Mabandla here.

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