AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

James Baldwin at 90, Part 2: Toward a Writing “Immune to Bullshit”

In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin frames the crux of his consideration of cultural and personal awareness: “It is the responsibility of free men to trust and to celebrate what is constant—birth, struggle, and death are constant, and so is love, though we may not think so—and to apprehend the nature of change” (Baldwin,

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Basil Breakey’s images: An important recording of South Africa Jazz

A few weeks ago, the Central Library in the Cape Town made a book maze from books that were intended to be pulped. Inserted in between the stacks of books that were packed on the first floor,...

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Jazz in Cape Town

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...

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Our Favorite Album of 2013

I’ve had Shane Cooper’s “Oscillations” in my possession for the past four months. From the onset, it was clear that it wasn’t music I’d be content with listening passively to. It was necessary for me to live with...

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

New book opens a window to a little known era of South Africa’s jazz history

A new book, Keeping Time, celebrates the public emergence of an extraordinary visual and audio archive begun by Ian Bruce Huntley in Cape Town fifty years ago. In short it challenges a long-held belief that jazz in...

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The New South African Family Film

The South African family film, “Felix!,” premiered earlier this year at the Durban International Film Festival, before making the rounds on the international film festival circuit. It tells the story of a young boy, Felix Xaba, who...

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Remembering Sathima Bea Benjamin

“Hi Rashid, is it true?”, “Yes Matt she is on the other side.” With what feels like a physical blow to the body I try to make sense of it all. Barely a month earlier I was...

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Friday Jazz Breaks

I haven’t done this type of music break (i.e. all jazz) in a while. But before counting down some good music (basically stuff I’ve been listening to lately), first let me promote an event: Later this month,...

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Moses Mololekwa and the loss of “new” South African innocence

Recently, I’ve found myself listening to more and more South African Jazz. In particular, I’ve been gravitating towards the late pianist and producer, Moses Taiwa Mololekwa. Now, I must admit that my appreciation for Mololekwa’s music did...

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

An Ode to The Mahogany Room in Cape Town

“YOU might call me a catalyst. A catalyst changes everything, but it remains unchanged” — Sun Ra In just under a year, 79 Buitenkant Street in central Cape Town (around the corner from the country’s Parliament) has...

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Kyle Shepherd X

Artists loathe hyper-intellectualism. Rationalization tends to eradicate emotion and surrendering passion becomes another way to pay the devil. But then there are those artists whose intellectualism is a birthright, not by choice and inescapable. Take, for example,...

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Sathima Benjamin, jazz and postwar “modern” Africa

The life and career of the South African jazz singer Sathima Bea Benjamin have been the subject of both popular and scholarly attention lately. In the last two years alone, she’s been the subject of an excellent documentary film (Sathima’s...

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Parisian Africa: The artistic intersections of the Métropole

Guest Post by Lara N. Dotson-Renta Paris has always been renowned for its culture and support of the arts. Yet, as France has grown into an ever more pluralistic society, the traditional image of what constitutes art...

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Music Break. Adam Glasser

Adam Glasser video shot in the legendary Kohinoor appliances & music store in Market Street, Johannesburg. In the early 2000s, Kohinoor still stocked hundreds of sealed (mint) jazz & soul vinyls, all super cheap.

Monday, March 19th, 2012

‘South African History !X’

Fresh off a Japanese tour, Capetonian jazz musician Kyle Shepherd returns with a third album entitled ‘South African History !X,’ which, he explains in the video above, “pays homage to the languages of the first nation people” and...

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Sathima Bea Benjamin’s Windsong

In Toronto-based Dan Yon's documentary of Sathima “Bea” Benjamin, the Cape Town-born jazz singer, the narration moves back and forth between New York City, where Benjamin was a long-term resident, and Cape Town, where she began singing...

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

New book on ‘how modern Africa reshaped jazz’

Following his lengthy Thelonius Monk biography, historian Robin DG Kelley, has a new book, “Africa Speaks, America Answers,” on how “modern Africa reshaped jazz, how modern jazz helped form a new African identity, and how musical convergences...

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Batsumi’s cascade of sound

By Dan Magaziner* South Africa’s 1970s are rightly remembered as a time of rising militancy. From the universities to the docks to the schools–the decade saw the rise of Black Consciousness and Steve Biko’s calls for a...

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Indian Jazz

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Music Break

Dub Colossus member Samuel Yirga “plays one night a week in Addis’s only jazz club/coffee bar, where the way he mixes Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock with Ethiojazz has won him a cult following.” He says: I...

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Music Break

I first saw Kesivan Naidoo play at the Independent Armchair Theater in Observatory. I was living around the corner at the time. He played drums in Tribe, a band fronted by pianist Mark Fransman. Much has changed...

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

When Monk met Dollar Brand

From historian Robin Kelley’s retelling of the day in 1964 that Thelonious Monk met the South African jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, then still known as Dollar Brand: … were at Kongresshaus in Zurich...

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Duke Ngcukana

In the last year fans of South African jazz had to contend with the passing of musicians Robbie Jansen, Ezra Ngcukana (in August 2010), Vincent Kolbe (in September 2010) and Hotep Idris Galeta. This weekend Duke Ngcukana, brother...

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Found Object, No. 11

Corrected: A rare film clip (there must be more where this came from), posted on Youtube in September 2010, of the Don Cherry Trio live in Paris in 1971. Cherry, an American, is on piano and cornet and...

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Music Break

Video of The Robert Glasper Experience’s covering Little Dragon’s “Twice,” earlier this month. H/T: Dylan Valley.

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Portico Quartet

Next Tuesday (September 28th)  and Wednesday (September 29th) London jazz group Portico Quartet–their sound has been referred to as “post-jazz” influenced by “… Steve Reich, Miles Davis, Philip Glass and Toumani Diabate.“–play New York City (@ Joe’s...

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Ezra Ngcukana, R.I.P.

Woke up this morning with the sad news in my email inbox–from music journalist Gwen Ansell–that Ezra Ngcukana (b. 1954), the great Cape Flats jazz musician and a member of the Ngcukana jazz dynasty, had passed away....

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

The Hilton Schilder Support Trust

“… Hilton Schilder,   is undergoing serious and expensive medical treatment for cancer, that...

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Blue Note

Master musician Dudu Pukwana, he played the  saxophone, who was part of a great generation of South African jazz musicians (I blogged about them a few days ago), died on this day in 1990. An appropriate time...

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Review: “Next Stop … Soweto”

Recently I reviewed the new 3-part Strutt Records compilation, “Next Stop … Soweto,” for The National. The album series are re-releases of rare 45s and other recordings from 1960s and 1970s South Africa. The first installment showcases “Township Sounds from...

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