Struan Douglas on Morning Live

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.

With the support of Concerts SA


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