Cape Town-based guitarist, composer, and educator Bruce Muirhead has established himself as one of the most influential voices in South Africa's revitalized jazz scene. As a bandleader, a featured guitarist in the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and first-call collaborator and sideman, Muirhead has performed with some of South Africa's most remarkable artists today.

Muirhead's primary ensemble, the highly acclaimed Muirhead Quartet, showcases him in collaboration with some of South Africa's strongest talents: saxophonist Mark Fransman, bassist Shaun Johanness, and drummer Heinrich Goosen. Forming in 2007 to hold a two-year residency at a Cape Town venue, the quartet quickly entered fresh music territory, juxtaposing jazz, funk, and rock with a variety of African folk styles in a harmonically creative setting.

In 2010, Muirhead released his debut album as a leader, All or Nothing, to extraordinary critical acclaim. A double album, All or Nothing showcases a strikingly mature guitar talent and a gifted composer capable of integrating a wide range of traditional Southern African musical styles into Western genres.

As an educator, Muirhead has conducted a wide range of guitar and composition workshops throughout South Africa. Along with collaborator Mark Fransman, Muirhead has made a particular point of exposing underserved communities to South Africa's musical heritage, and to making music available and accessible to all who are interested.

In addition to his extensive performance and teaching work, Muirhead is a sought-after composer, and has received commissions from a variety of public and private organizations, including the South African Government. He received his own training at the University of Cape Town, graduating cum laude with a degree in jazz performance, and at Pretoria Technikon, earning a diploma cum laude.

"All or Nothing"

The Muirhead Quartet
(Bruce Muirhead - 2010)

2-CD Set

Bruce Muirhead - guitar
Mark Fransman - saxophones
Shaun Johannes - bass
Heinrich Goosen - drums

Buy CD or MP3s

Disc 1:
1. Some Bark Intro [1:16]
2. Some Bark [6:38]
3. All Or Nothing [8:39]
4. Chilla [10:31]
5. You Naturally [6:01]
6. Mr & Mischief [6:38]
7. Dimension Perspective [9:58]
8. Milky Mode [8:29]
9. Lucky [4:46]
10. Sausage Soup [7:00]
Disc 2:
1. Gaartjie [5:53]
2. Simians [7:56]
3. Talking Loud [5:35]
4. The Now [7:16]
5. Memory Stick [8:14]
6. Mlungu [7:52]
7. Miss Trillion [8:18]
8. Thunder Hat [5:55]
9. Transplanter [4:33]

Press Photos



Seton Hawkins

Bruce Muirhead

Art of Africa

Composition and Performance Workshop

South African guitarist, composer, and bandleader Bruce Muirhead's Art of Africa workshops expose talented students to the music of Southern Africa, enabling participants to draw upon the styles of such countries as South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho for composition and improvisation.

A highly sought-after artist, Muirhead is one of South Africa's primary musical innovators, drawing on the rich musical traditions of Southern Africa and incorporating them into the dense harmonies of jazz. Trained at both the University of Cape Town and at Pretoria Technikon, Muirhead recently released his debut CD, All or Nothing, to widespread praise in South Africa.

Muirhead's Art of Africa workshop can be broken down into two types of classes:

1) Composition Workshop

In these courses, Muirhead will work with composers in all genres to showcase, with examples, the various musical styles and traditions of Southern Africa. These styles offer remarkable rhythmic, melodic, and timbral opportunities to inspire composers, and dramatically enrich any musician's repertoire.

Having established an understanding of the traditions, Muirhead will work with composers to explore how to incorporate elements of the music into Western-styled and jazz compositions. His workshops provide particular insight into aligning the unique rhythmic and tonal elements of the African traditions with the engaged harmonic structures of jazz. Composers will then be encouraged to create works that unify the respective styles.

2) Improvisation and Performance Workshop

In the improvisation and performance workshops, Muirhead will coach students and ensembles on the mechanics of performing in traditional African styles, while incorporating them into improvisation. This workshop particularly benefits guitarists, but Muirhead's coaching will be of great value to any participant, and will be particularly helpful to pre-existing ensembles seeking to diversity their palettes.

The improvisation workshop and the composition workshop can function separately, or in conjunction with one another. In that instance, students learn about the styles by performing them, and are then coached into finding ways to incorporate tradition into their own innovative works.


"Bruce Muirhead has come up with a unique, "South African" sound which has set a new standard for young guitarists/composers to follow."
-Professor Darryl Andrews
Senior Lecturer, South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town

"Mr. Muirhead produces magnificent work that finds its deserved place in the rich cultural heritage of our musical environment."
-Professor Andrew Lilley
Associated Professor, South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town

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