Jazzman off to Norway to learn

2016-08-18 06:00
 JKoko Nkalashe and Percy Mabandu

JKoko Nkalashe and Percy Mabandu

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Koko Nkalashe, the co-founder of Jazz in the Native Yards, will be leaving for Norway soon.

The visit is made possible by ConcertSA, a joint SA/Norwegian live music development project within the SAMRO Foundation.

Concerts SA receives financial, administrative and technical support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SAMRO, the SAMRO Foundation and Concerts Norway.

Working with musicians, promoters, venue owners and audiences, and providing support to the sector through research and skills development for music professionals, the project aims to build a vibrant and viable live music circuit in Southern Africa.

It also aims to develop an interest in and appreciation of live music by showcasing music performances and conducting workshops at schools.

Backyard live performance in the Native Yards comes a long way and can be traced back to the 1960s, when impromptu live jazz sessions took place every weekend.

Back then jazz enthusiasts listened to Josh Sithole who became famous for playing the pennywhistle, and the Nofemele brothers, who played The Manhattan Brothers covers with unsurpassed flair.

The Ngcukana brothers, who performed with their father Mra and legendary Abdullah Ibrahim were a regular feature.
Today, jazz clubs are largely based in town, but the live jazz scene is brewing in the townships and Jazz in the Native Yard is on a mission to provide a performance platform to preserve the legacy of jazz giants such as Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Robbie Jansen and Cups Nkanuka, amongst many others.

The Native Yards is a situation that South African communities find themselves in after 66 years of separate development and the enforcement of the Group Areas Act.

In 20 years of democracy, many who have been brought up and schooled in the townships haven’t been able to get out, mainly because of the economic situation and South Africa’s high unemployment rate.

The prospects for many are bleak, hence a tendency to engage in undesirable forms of behaviour like gangsterism, drug peddling and alcoholism.

JINY believes that without the opportunity for the expression of human creativity the situation is a downward spiral, especially for the youth, who have very little prospect for a good education and even, at that, a career once they have graduated. JINY is creating a space for artists to express themselves in other ways than delinquent behaviour and violence and sees an opportunity to divert the energy in the township through creative expression in the form of music, dance, drama, the spoken word and the visual arts.

Nkalashe’s objectives for the visit to Norway include meeting venue owners and promoters in their places of business to understand their business models, their strategies for promotion of their venues.

Also how do the urban and peri urban venues differ in audience development strategies.

He will also talk to musicians about the Norwegian way of jazz story telling and whether it receives the expected support.

Nkalashe will learn how the media over there tell their stories and whether there something we are not exploring in South African music.

People in the music business will inform him ho they work with authorities to free up space for artistic expression, including funding to keep the spaces working and viable.

Visits to music schools on how they work with venues to raise the standard of the music offered at venues and also capture new talent and give them space to perform and see them grow, will be part of the itinerary.

He will listen to audiences at music venues about their experiences and standard of artistic expression.

How much funding from government and the private sector goes to big festivals compared to small local gigs.

Generally check out the live music scene in Norway, attendance rates compared to ours.


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