From 2017 – 2019 about two dozen articles appeared in Business Day Newspaper, African Independent, Mail and Guardian, Sawubona, Downbeat and Pacific on the topic of South African Jazz … here are some of the links :
The raw interview material together with at least a further two dozen interviews is currently being compiled into Volume Two with a release date set for September 2019 ::: … All research is deposited at ILAM International Library of African Music for educational, development, promotional, inclusive and expansive reasons:
Story of SA Jazz Volume Two receives seed funding :
In South African jazz, the barriers that separate performers from writers, promoters or technicians are very quickly eroding. A knowledge of all aspects of the music world is an advantage.
Volume one of the Story of SA Jazz explored the link between festivals, education, music business, political expression and virtuosity. Volume Two extends on these themes and adds copywriting, archiving, improvisation and jamming :: !
Thank you to ANFASA Norwegian embassy and SAMRO foundation for this 25k award to trigger more stories from the genre of SA jazz :
The story of South African jazz is built on a succinct timeline that traces the evolution and involution of SA jazz through five distinct ‘rays’ of jazz from the early days, through exile and inxile to the current days… and beyond. We are in the 5th ray.
Quting from Volume One : “Jazz is a unifying language. It brings people together and provides the vocabulary to have a great musical dialogue. SA jazz is a transformative shift to sharing. It is uBuntu in action.”
By listening to the voices and identities of those who dared to express themselves there is a path laid out for one to find one’s own voice and identity.
The music has the power to bring change. Change is the alchemy of the music we call South African jazz …
In South African jazz, the barriers that separate performers from writers, promoters or technicians are very quickly eroding. A knowledge of all aspects of the music world is an advantage.
Volume one of the Story of SA Jazz explored the link between festivals, education, music business, political expression and virtuosity. It was successfully released in 2014 and has filled a demand for the book at independent book stores, festivals, universities and libraries.
Volume Two extends on these themes and adds copywriting, archiving, improvisation and jamming.
The role of international musicians and locations has always had a tremendous effect on the Story of South African Jazz. Where Volume One looked at the effect of London and France through the Blue Notes, Volume Two continues this into Italy as well as the new trend of Switzerland and possibly also Norway.
There is an urgency to document our living music legends. Where there is a legend who has maintained his or her truth there is gold, greater than all the royal palaces of the world. These are the sound brahman, the healers, the wisdom keepers, the alchemists who make my life journey (and possibly yours) unique and meaningful.
The Story of South African jazz is built on the website and content portal afribeat.com which was launched on April 1st 2000. It is a free platform for African Jazz, uBuntu and Music education that has birthed many creative projects that have empowered many people, such as archive Africa, dancing with the diaspora and wondergigs.
Some call it the indestructible beat of Soweto. Some call it from marabi to disco. Some call it the raucus township pop jazz sound. Some call it soul, mbaqanga or jazz. And for someone like Barney who has lived through all the era’s from pennywhistle jive, through explosive inxile jazz, and driving soul music, it is all that and more.
Barney Rachabane is regarded as “the most soulful saxophone player in the world.”
Barney Rachabane born in Alexandra township 1946, grandson of a reverend, is self taught and self actualized in every way. He is a man who found himself through jazz music and the melting pot of consciousness expressed through the melting pot of music. He was an inxile, he never went in for politics and is grateful that instead have having to suffer exile, he could build a home and a family which he has done very well.
One wonders why the minister has called him in. Perhaps they will be naming a road after him to add to Ntemi Piliso Road and Miriam Makeba Road and Mahlatini avenue. Now we can have a Rachabane highway!
We are looking forward to more performances of the Barney Rachabane Sextet; a powerful show full of musical delight and surprise …
This show highlights Barney Rachabane’s sixty year career at the top of South African music with some of his most stirring compositions performed together with the compositions and performances of his super talented musical offspring, his daughter, songstress Octavia Rachabane and grandson, bebop saxophonists Oscar Rachabane; in a dynamic, delightful and musically decadent sextet.
Barney Rachabane: Saxophone
Octavia Rachabane: Vocals
Oscar Rachabane : Saxophone
Thato Modise: Bass
Tseko Motaung: piano
Pat Ngwenya: drums
The show can be introduced by jazz playwrite and actor Thami Sikhosana with scripted passages from the book The Story of South African Jazz, Volume One and Two “The Real Thing” by Struan Douglas …
Thami Sikhosana: narrator
Struan Douglas: script writer
When I wrote … “Jazz is love, jazz is ‘love thy neighbour.’ Jazz is a unifying language. It brings people together and provides the vocabulary to have a great musical dialogue. South African jazz is a transformative gift… It is uBuntu in action.” … I did not know when I would have the opportunity to SHOW it …
The Story of South African Jazz : LIVE brings the “griots” of the South African jazz tradition together with a strong live audience. The Story of South African Jazz : LIVE brings the recently published volume one to life, and tells the “REAL STORY” and presents the ‘REAL THING.’ In a scripted, narrated and orchestrated live show, the Story of South African Jazz : LIVE brings focus to our musical heritage whether from Cape Town, Durban, PE or Johannesburg.
The musicians who are the life blood of South African jazz are the ones who ensure the true story of this music and what it takes to be a musician is passed on through the generations …Upliftment is achieved through the support of these great musicians, the promotion of their family initiatives and the educational rewards their knowledge preserves.Our primary focus is the celebration of the marvelous community of friends that have supported the musicians throughout the years. It is the audience that we can never do without. The show will extend the authentic oral language of South African jazz into the future generations.
There are many great names that the Story of South African Jazz is built upon and many of these great names have gone onto build vast and or sustainable careers. The Story of South African Jazz : LIVE presents a platform for those who require the platform to showcase their brilliance. The greatest sacrifice in music is education. In jazz education is oral. And without it there would be no jazz. And hence there is no greater maestro than a griot. A musician who has passed the music on to their children. The griot tradition is still alive in the Story of South African Jazz and it is that we wish to pay the strongest of tribute to.
The First Sunday of May, the show went Live at the Rainbow in Pinetown giving platform to the talented NGIDI griot family of KZN …
The star of The Story of South African Jazz Volume One is the little Maestro from Durban, musical father and man with the golden voice, Elias ‘Sdumo Ngidi. Listen on soundcloud to his live version of Mr Bo Jangles in the helter skelter of the Rainbow tavern. He brought the audience to tears. Elias heads up a great jazz insurgence coming out of Durban. Much like Barney, from his pennywhistle roots he has pioneered three generations of music. His son Philani heads up his quartet when he is not performing with the jazz diva backing vocals. And Elias is also joined by the barber shop quartet known as the Baret Boys lead by Thabani Mahlobo. This is a strong show in and of itself. It is a proverbial jazz train coming out of Durban.
The First Sunday of September the show goes live in Johannesburg at the Orbit, giving platform to the Rachabane griot family, with three generations of fantastic music making…
A stunning griot family from Soweto, Johannesburg is the Rachabane family. From the little maestro, Barney who started it all with the pennywhistle all stars of Alexandria, there are now three generations of Rachabane’s. A star of the future, a born songstress is his daughter Octavia.
The show is brought together and shot straight from the heart, by narrator : Thami Skosana
This griot show is tied together by a scripted delivery by the author Struan Douglas together with playwrite, actor and voice over artist Thami Skosana. With Thami’s exuberant delivery, sincere knowledge and deep and growling vocals is no more or less the sound of South African jazz. listen on soundcloud
DATE for the NEXT show … Sunday 06/09/2015 : 5PM – 7PM … Live at The Orbit
AUTHOR : The Story of SA Jazz is written by Struan Douglas. Struan is the founding director of music portal, http://www.afribeat.com online since 01/04/2000. Struan has contributed on South African Jazz for a variety of publications since being a columnist for Big Issue magazine 1999 – 2000, Downbeat magazine 1999 and Sawubona 2003. Some of the magazines like Bejazzed and Directions that he contributed for are no longer in publication. He wrote regularly for Independent newspapers countrywide and the Mail and Guardian. He has provided interviews for radio.
Give us a brief synopsis of what the Story of SA Jazz is about?
It is a story that is in its first Volume and it is an attempt to describe and document as much of our South African cultural history of jazz and improvised music that we can.
Why is the Story of South African Jazz worth documenting?
It is an amazing story in terms of South Africa’s history. To quote what Zim Ngqawana said, “jazz fought the struggle and won.” In terms of what jazz did in the 1960’s for South Africa it is an amazing story, and then taking jazz into the current generation where we have got over our political problems, I think jazz is fighting the struggle and winning in terms of our own emotional and social transformation and alchemy.
Talk to us about the highlights?
It started for me back in that day in 1999 in Cape Town and the first highlight was getting to know Jim Bailey, the publisher of Drum Magazine. He had a real fascination with street culture. And then of course Winston Mankunku was at large in Cape Town and shining the brightest light so being in eth presence of that music and the dancing good times, that got me hooked on jazz. Winston Mankunku was a masterful player. And then around 2000, the turn of the millennium was a huge explosion with the Cape Town jazz festival and then Moses Molelekwa really changed the way we understood jazz with his innovative playing, mixing in all sorts of music. And Jimmy Dludlu was there attracting great crowds. It was a lot of fun and joy.
Why the decision to put it as interviews?
It is such a vast story that my story is going to be different. I think it is important to tell everybody’s story as it is and for me the story of South African jazz is our story. Everybody has their story of South African jazz, whether it is as a pioneer or as somebody who has enjoyed it. For me it is to create something that will stand the test of time and not be subject to my own impressions. I have my own impressions and that will be told in another story but more to create the space for everybody’s story to be relevant and everybody’s story to be told.
Talk to us about the launch tomorrow?
It is going to be a great event. Firstly it is the Rainbow restaurant that has been supporting live music for 34 years. They launched under the banner of jazz for the struggle and the struggle for jazz back in 1982 playing to audiences of 400 people with great acts. And then the musicians featured are Elias Ngidi who goes right back in to the 60’s. He is a pennywhistle star. He performed with the great Winston Mankunku. He was the trumpet player in his band. He is a guitarist, a singer and he is a father. He will be performing with his musical sons the bass players Philani Ngidi and Lee Ngidi. The other performer is Thabani Mahlobo of Baret Blues, Thabani is an amazing musician, artist story teller and cultural legend who records and works out of Stable Theatre in Durban. And the show will be narrated by playwrite Thami Skosana who as a cultural champion himself. This is a gathering of maestro’s and the audience at the Rainbow are maestro’s themselves. They have all got their own stories of South African jazz to share.
Listen congratulations the story of South African jazz.
Yes, thank you very much.
Give us a taste of it.
Reading from the first few lines of the book: Our Story of Southern African Jazz’ is a story that IS because it is a story that has become its writer. I was awakened by the patience, understanding, tolerance and forgiveness of many jazz musicians, jazz ambassadors, jazz warriors and jazz professors. I address you as a jazz messenger and a jazz disciple undergoing my own
transformation into a jazz dazzler. Have you got that?
There are lots of people who know about South African jazz, not only the musicians that play the genre, people that influence the music. Do we understand our own story of jazz as far as South African are concerned?
It is an enormous group of people and also to make reference to what Moses Molelekwa taught us, it is a school whereby one can find oneself. It is an eternal story. It is something that everybody belongs too. It is not only South African it is also global.
Moses Molelekwa who you had the honour to interview, what should we remember? Finding oneself, he left us with that beautiful piece of music and a lot of other songs but what should we remember?
I think Shado he would want us to remember the people who are living because there are so many amazing musicians. He obviously learnt from others himself. And I think to go to the first quote in the book by Elais Ngidi, he says, “The whole story of this jazz thing is it never finishes.” So I think that what Moses left us with is something that we are still to learn. It is an eternal story and he himself talked about living many lives so maybe he is on his way back here?
He never left; possibly? But is this a compilation of interviews, comments, how is your book formed?
Absolutely, it is a compilation of interviews but it follows a timeline from the golden era of the 50’s, to the inxile and exile era of the 60’s and then to the 80’s that had a mixed metaphor of different music and then to the era of the 2000’s which Moses was a part of to the current era of 2015. I have called each era a ray of South African jazz, separated by roughly 15 years which is the time it takes for one generation to pass the message onto the next generation. Did you find it was easy to get information, are these stories documented elsewhere or did you have to dig hard to find information.
When I went to Lars Rasmussen in Copenhagen in the year 2000 he said, “The whole Story of South African jazz is it has never been written.” From that moment onwards I realised I had a job of work to do in terms of interviewing people. And this is still just the tip of the iceberg. This is Volume One and there will certainly be a Volume Two and a Volume Three if not more because there are many musicians out there whose stories have not yet been told and I think there is something to learn from everybody.
How long did it take you for this Volume?
Those years around 1999, this is where it started. It has gone through Cape Town and now to Durban and each part of the county has given a little bit for me to tell my own story, so I am able to present a collective story.
But what has been your thing? You have been at it for a long time. You have produced recordings, you have gathered musicians. You have always been right there digging, what has been your attraction and obsession with the music?
Yes firstly there is always something beyond what one knows consciously, the spiritual side. On the physical side it was firstly Jim Bailey, he really shaped my love of Africa and the music that came with it. And secondly watching Winston Mankunku. Jim influenced me from an emotional side and Winston from an alchemical side, showing me how music could transform emotions and from there I was hooked. There is a bigger story than just the music?
Absolutely. You can put it down to alchemy. With the 60’s it was turning sadness into joy and a lot of our jazz story is based in the 60’s, but now in the current generation the alchemy has changed into transforming ourselves into the gold within our own hearts and I think that is where jazz is situated currently.
So tell us about the launch?
Sunday 3rd May at the Rainbow Restaurant in Pinetown which is a legendary venue for jazz. There are two amazing Durban based musicians taking the stage. Firstly Elias Ngidi is a pennywhistle player and he was a trumpet player with Mankunku in the 60’s. He is a multi talented musician. He is one of the great improvisers. He will be playing pennywhistle and guitar and he is playing with his two sons who are bass players, Lee Ngidi and Philani Ngidi who is very well known in Durban. He has gone as far as collaborating with Ronny Jordan and is actually going to be touring the country with the Jazz Diva’s later this year. Elias Ngidi is going to be a very exciting show. He is a musician who has really opened my eyes to improvisation.
The other artist is Thabani Mohlobo. He is a painter, an orator, story-teller and he has an acapella quartet called Baret Blues. Thabani is a fountain of wisdom and in fact he came to the Stable Theatre in the early 80’s when it was started by Kesi Govender so he is also a pioneer of education and keeping cultural spaces open. These two artists will be headlining at the Rainbow on Sunday at 2PM. The show will be narrated by Thami Skosana who is an amazing playwrite and also an amazing supporter of arts and culture and authentic expression. It is very exciting also from a visual and spoken word perspective.
And Struan where do we find your book?
Well the Orbit is a great supporter of jazz and they are holding a number of copies and also if you do go to International Jazz Day and whatever events are on there, Xarra Books have a stand there, they are holding books. Otherwise Love Books in Melville, Adams Books in Durban. We print at BK Bookbinders. Cape Town of course is Clarkes. Otherwise from me, I am a travelling salesman as well.
You always have been, nothing has changed much. Give my love to Neil Comfort and tell him congratulations. And I hope Sunday, the 3rd is a great success and congratulations to you. Well done.
Thank you Shado, there is one thing I must mention and that is Concerts SA. This new light we are experiencing all over the country for live performances and live music has really been made possible by this collaboration that is resulted in Concerts SA. That has helped with this concert.
They are doing a great job because now we are managing to see musicians on different stages.
Thank you Thank you Shado. Keep well.
Struan Douglas. Beautiful beautiful Story of South African jazz. I am glad as many people as possible are starting to document this music because that is exactly what we need.