Jack Muguna is clearly well attuned to what his audience wants, and the pace at which to deliver it. “Don’t ever be envious of my life, you have no idea how my days are like shelly!” Jack tells me as I make a remark on how tired he looks like. He explains to me music for him is a like a 9-5 office job only that he is not cooped up in an office answering to mails and calls and dressed in a suit and tie. We chat over a meal with members of Nairobi Horns having lunch at Westlands in Nairobi.
You can easily tell he pushes himself to give the very best that is in him musically to offer nothing but the best. He tells me that he has to practice on average of 6 hours per day, hit the gym and work out as a form of reward.
Jack is a bona fide triple threat—consummate guitarist, accomplished songwriter, captivating showman. Creating an edgy blend of modern and traditional jazz, Jack is pushing the music forward with his own unique vision. Jack hails from a big family of musicians, surrounded by 8 siblings and parents who are musicians, instilled in him an appreciation for music and a strong work ethic very early on.
For Jack, he has invested in a lot of time to attain the heights of proficiency on the instrument, from his tender years of playing simple chord progressions to where he is at playing sophisticated elements of jazz music. He admits, “It takes a lot of time and patience to internalize the true essence of jazz music.”
“At first, I was drawn to anything melodically appealing and was easy for me to learn. Eventually, I got transfixed to Jimmy DluDlu’s music and later on landed myself into a lot George Benson’s music and right away, I knew jazz was the love of my life!” he tells me with an elated tone.
I’ve found my deepest moments of connection, reflection and joy through music and I hope to bring the same to the ones who listen.
Jack’s love for guitar
Jack an in-demand session player, valued sideman, prolific composer and respected leader in his own right has a distinctive sound has graced countless jazz and pop tracks over the period of his career. He has recorded with a cadre of professional musicians from pop figures like Sarabi, Makadem to Jazz maestros like the late Bra Hugh Masekela (SA), Nairobi Horns Project (KE) and Isaiah Katumwa (UG).
Its show day! There are no retakes, no mistakes, they play trusting their instincts. As the Jack Muguna Quintet dive headlong into the show, they play Eston – a fluid, warm-toned lines cascade effortlessly over the changes as Emma the Drummer spur them on rhythmically. There’s a touch of grit in Jack’s tone as he sails through the tune. He has a way for making prickly experimentation feel approachable, intuitive and even stylish.
In addition, when Jack plays the hat of the guitarist with NHP, he shifts gears, summoning up shimmering chords on a gorgeous version of Roy Hargrove’s Strasbourg Saint Denis. Jack Muguna, puts a new spin on the classic, injecting a hiphop-flavored pattern that imbues the song with new energy and an entirely different rhythmic character. Jack Muguna nods his head and grins. “Hiyo imeweza!”.
The most anticpated debut album
“Jana, my buddy Tots bounced me a track, titled “The One That Got Away” I am super excited about all of this, Shelly.” He tells me. His sprightly tone feels like a Kenyan athlete at the final hour, chasing time and the finish line. Jack has over the years been working on his debut album and as everything is smoothly coming together- this album will be a mark to long illustrious music career.
It been a journey of inspiration, music composition, and recording. Finally the decision making process has begun, which track makes the cut? Which one gets left behind? How will the overall vibe be like?
Once he releases the album, it will be a true testament of his incomparable capabilities and dexterity on the guitar. Jack Muguna has clearly carved out a niche for himself within the jazz frontier in Nairobi, he has a well-deserved recognition for to be named in the pantheon of pioneering artist who have altered the trajectory of music within Nairobi. Brava, Jack!!