It was with great sadness that the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport learnt of the passing of internationally renowned jazz artist Anthony (Tony) Cedras. He passed away on 29 January 2024 after a battle with emphysema. In 2022, the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport bestowed the Ministerial Legacy Award on Mr Cedras in recognition of his outstanding achievements and contribution to South African music, and jazz in particular, during the pre-democracy era.
Born in Elsies River, Cape Town, Tony Cedras was a sought-after session player who toured the world as part of the Graceland Show Band, and before that, as a member of the Amandla Cultural Ensemble in exile.
After initially touring inside South Africa, Cedras relocated to Gaborone in the early 1980s. There, he met trombonist and band leader Jonas Gwangwa. Gwangwa was the musical director of the Amandla ensemble, which Cedras joined, travelling not only in Africa, but also in Europe, Canada and Brazil.
While working with Amandla, Cedras spent time in London, where he connected with other South African artists who were part of the expatriate South African music scene. He moved there in 1985, and soon formed the group Kintone. Later, while Cedras was working in Zimbabwe, Hugh Masekela recommended to Paul Simon that Cedras could provide valuable musical input into Simon’s Graceland project. Cedras toured with Simon between 1987 and 1989, and then from 1990 to 1992 with Simon’s Born at the Right Time tour. Cedras worked extensively with Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba. He also toured with Harry Belafonte in 1993 and Henry Threadgill in 1994.
Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport Anroux Marais said: “The Western Cape Government, and I personally, want to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Tony Cedras. He will be sorely missed, but his sound will live on, He was a true jazz legend."