In Cape Town jazz here is not just jazz. It’s a whole lot more. For one, it is a dance style that continues to be the predominant feature of successive generations of Cape Flats families. Almost similar to what is called salsa in the Latino communities, jazzing on the Cape Flats is now somewhat of a tradition. And I use tradition in a deliberate way, to think about inheritances of practices that are shared, dynamic and made and remade anew, but always defined also by what is continued as it is passed down.
It’s Bra Hugh’s birthday today. Well into his seventies, Hughie as his friend Dizzy Gillepsie used to call him, demonstrates no interest in laying off from touring. To celebrate, we’ll bump a bit of “I Am Not Afraid”; or maybe tap into his Hedzoleh Sounds era; or perhaps go buckwild to some Union Of South Africa (alongside Caiphus Semenya and Jonas Gwangwa). Who knows, we might even cruise past his electronic stuff in the eighties; Techno Bush maybe. By the time Sunday comes, we’ll be cold chilling with him and his old buddy Larry Willis on their “Friends” album.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the man that so many South Africans have come to love, even those who grew up being taught that he was a communist and a terrorist when communism was portrayed as a great evil. He achieved so much in his life, but what he achieved was for the people of South Africa–not for himself. Nelson Mandela, in his biography A Long Walk To Freedom says “It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world.” Many jazz artists have paid tribute to Nelson Mandela over the years, and I felt it fitting to dedicate one of my radio shows to this music as a tribute.