The Revival Of Jazz In South Africa

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The Revival Of Jazz In South Africa Essay, Research Paper Jazz is once again back on its feet in South Africa. After many years of cultural oppression due to Apartheid, jazz is slowly but surely finding its way back to popularity in South Africa. However, the road to reconstruction is apparently not a smooth one, as many jazz musicians and the entire jazz community are still running into problems in South Africa. Despite this, the progress that has already been made is incredible and the future of jazz in this region has reached a new level of optimism. In the 1920s there was an organist from the Eastern Cape called Boet Gashe who made his money, much like the early jazz musicians in America, by playing at wild parties in Johannesburg’s black ghettoes where the mothers

charged three-pence at the door and sold moonshine to keep their families alive.(BEBEY-23) Todd Matshikiza, legendary composer and music critic f described these events: “The hostess hunched next to a four-gallon tin of beer in the corner. She sold jam tins at sixpence a gulp. Gashe was bent over his organ in one O’CONNOR-2 corner, thumping the rhythm from the pedal with his feet, which were also feeding the organ with air, choking the organ with persistent chords in the right hand and improvising an effective melody with the left. He would call for the aid of a matchstick to hold down a harmonic note. You get a delirious effect of perpetual motion — perpetual motion in a musty hole where men made friends without restraint.” (BEBEY-64) This was marabi music, a foundation

element of South African jazz and an indigenous product of the urban ghettoes that were a feature of South African cities for much of this century.(KEBEDE-40) Its distinctive rhythms, designed to bring some consolation and dignity to otherwise drab and oppressive working class districts, can still be heard in the music of jazz men and women who have today become giants in their field: Hugh Masekela, Abhudulla Ibrahim, Miriam Makeba and many others.(KEBEDE-47) Many of these famous jazz artists have recently returned from decades of exile. The repressive regulations that drove them away in the apartheid era have been abolished and broadcasting and recording opportunities are open to all.(GOFFIN-187) But for South African jazz musicians, all this has been a mixed blessing: the

musical O’CONNOR-3 free market is a harsh place for an industry still recovering from the damage inflicted by apartheid.(GOFFIN-188) The story of South African jazz is the story of the nation. The road to reconstruction is a rocky one. South Africa is one of the few countries outside the USA where jazz has been a genuinely popular music. Its roots are in the marabi styles that adapted rural rhythms to urban conditions in the first half of the twentieth century.(NEKETIA-94) According to veteran bandleader Ntemi Piliso: “Marabi was sung by a solo voice over an instrumental accompaniment maybe an organ, an accordion, later on a guitar. Then some fellow might fill a condensed milk tin with stones for a rattle, maybe improvise a drum kit and the music would go on all night. Marabi

uses a three-chord, two- or four-bar sequence. I suppose you could say the progression was limited, even monotonous. But it’s the monotony that holds the listeners. You vary the theme and improvise around it, rather than changing the chord sequence.”(GOFFIN-112) Legendary bandleader “Zuluboy” Cele introduced modern instrumentation to the style.(GERARD-59) Later players, like popular bandleader Zakes Nkosi, blended in idioms from American jazz, especially the swing music of the big-band O’CONNOR-4 era. Later still, the improvisational adventures of bebop were also drawn in.(GERARD-61) But the chord progressions and improvisational style of marabi, together with excursions into the hexatonic mode of African choral singing continued to flavor the fusion and can still be