The influence of literature in South African Jazz

16 January 2018 Articles Books Latest

Jazz is no longer considered as a genre that caters for the older generation only. Young people have immersed themselves in it and the culture in different hangout spots in South Africa proves that. From markets and restaurants to book clubs jazz has somehow influenced the culture. We’ve selected a few books which have changed the landscape of South African Jazz and are what we would consider as your guide to understanding jazz in the South African context.

Miriam Makeba – Mama Africa

Miriam Makeba played a pivotal role in South African Jazz. She is a Grammy Award-winning South African singer, rose to fame in the hearts of her people at the pinnacle of apartheid.

Mama Africa as they called her, raised her voice to help combat these injustices at jazz clubs in Johannesburg; in exile, at a rally beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and before the United Nations. Set defiantly in the present tense, this biography offers readers an intimate view of Makeba’s fight for equality.

Marabi Nights: Early South African Jazz and Vaudeville 

Marabi Nights offer a fascinating view of the triumphs and tragedies of South Africa’s Marabi-jazz tradition. Based on conversations with legendary figures in the world of music – as well as a perceptive reading of music, the socio-political history, and social meanings – this book is one of sensitive and impassioned curatorship. New chapters extend the book’s in-depth account of the birth and development of South African urban-black popular music.

The book includes an illustrative CD of historic sound recordings that the author has unearthed and saved from oblivion.

Last Night at the Bassline – David Coplan

In 1994 Brad and Paige Holmes opened a small, live-music venue in the bohemian suburb of Melville in Johannesburg. They called it Bassline, which very soon became synonymous with cigar smoke, great jazz and nights you wished would never end.  They later moved the club to Newtown where it grew in prominence as the ultimate venue for live music, hosting amazing artists like Thandiswa Mazwai, Jimmy Dludlu, Lira, The Soil and Grammy Award-winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In 2016 word spread like wildfire that everyone’s favorite club was closing its doors forever; this place that held all the promises of a new South Africa, a place where people of all races could come together, share a drink, dance and fall in love was to be no more. But as Bassline soon started its new journey with Live @ the Bassline, yet another great story begins with Last Night at the Bassline. You can share in this story by experiencing Bassline Live at the Lyric Theatre in partnership with Kaya FM. Visit our website, or follow us on social media for more details.