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 South Africa went silent after Dollar Brand, Miriam Makeba, Bea Benjamin and the Blue Notes left South Africa in the early 1960s. Produced in a limited edition of 500 copies the publication features some of the first full colour photographs of the underground jazz scene left behind by the exiles.

The book gives lovers of South African music, scholars, musicians, artists, anyone who is fascinated with the achievements of a generation of South African jazz musicians, a small but invaluable means towards maintaining memory and articulating lost stories.

The publication opens a window to a little known era of South Africa’s music history, documenting a generation of jazz musicians in 120 selected and carefully restored images. Ian’s pictures and 56 hours of audio recordings capture the jazz scene that persisted in creative defiance of all that grand apartheid threw at it. Many of the photographed live performances are indexed and the entire book — photographs, essays and discography — will be available for open access via the Electric Jive website, continuing the tradition Ian established.

Below are some of the images featured in the book, with a short description of the artists performing, and a link to where you’ll find some of their recordings.

Dennis Mpale (trumpet), Barney Rachabane (alto), Ronnie Beer (tenor). Room At The Top, Strand Street, Cape Town 1964. The brass engine room of Tete Mbambisa’s Jazz Disciples played various Cape Town venues for close on two years, including The Room at The Top, Ambassador’s School of Dance, and the Zambezi in District Six. The recording featured here has Dudu Pukwana playing with the Jazz Disciples in one of his last gigs before leaving the country with Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes in July 1964. (Image © Ian Bruce Huntley)

Ebrahim Kalili Shihab

The master plays on: Ebrahim Kalil Shihab (Chris Schilder). Zambezi Restaurant, Hanover Street, District Six, Cape Town 1964. In addition to his impeccable bop jazz pedigree, Chris Schilder was the creative force behind the highly successful Pacific Express. He played the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2013. The recording linked here features 84 minutes of live jazz recorded at the Zambezi Restaurant in 1966. (Image © Ian Bruce Huntley)


Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Cape Town 1966. The Bellowing Bull revered John Coltrane. Here Ian Huntley’s recording captures Mankunku and Morris Goldberg going “free”, along with Chris Schilder, Selwyn Lissack, Midge Pike and Philly Schilder at the Art Centre, 20th August 1966. (Image © Ian Bruce Huntley)


Kippie Moeketsi, Langa Community Centre, Langa, Cape Town, September 1971. Nearly ninety minutes of Moeketsi playing in public again after years of recluse. Victor Ntoni and Nelson Magwaza, along with Danayi Dlova produce something special. Weeks after this recording Ntoni, Magwaza and Moeketsi caught the train to Johannesburg to record the now legendary albums Peace and Dollar Brand +3. (Image © Ian Bruce Huntley)

Keeping Time is published by Chris Albertyn and Associates in partnership with Electric Jive. In addition to a biographical sketch of Ian Huntley, the book offers a substantial essay by Jonathan Eato, a full discography of all 56 hours of the recordings Ian made, and a comprehensive index. South African artist Siemon Allen is responsible for the design and layout. Photographer Cedric Nunn has painstakingly restored the images. The limited print edition of the book has been produced with significant voluntary contributions of time and has been privately published and sold at the price it cost to produce.

All details here.

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