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South African Musician Nkosi Dies

June 13, 1999

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Jabu Nkosi, a jazz keyboardist who played with such luminaries as Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte, has died at age 46.

Nkosi, who had high blood pressure, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver, died of heart failure, the Sunday Times reported. It did not say when Nkosi died.

The son of legendary alto sax and clarinet player Zakes Nkosi, Jabu Nkosi left school at an early age and began performing jazz with friends and family. He never learned to read music but amazed fellow musicians with his intuitive grasp of harmony and other concepts.

Nkosi’s keyboard style was characterized by an infinite delicacy and his ability to improvise.

``He would lay the red carpet for the solo trumpet and they would walk down it together,″ trumpeter Johnny Mekoa recalled, according to the Sunday Times.

Nkosi was frequently hospitalized the last two years, which limited his performances and his financial resources. He lived in the black township of Alexandra near Johannesburg, unable to afford electricity, and his last months were lonely ones, the Johannesburg newspaper said.

He never married but is survived by four sons, the newspaper said.

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