“Connecting the Tradition” is the theme for an online jazz festival, being presented today by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Arts & Culture at the University of Johannesburg, the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at UKZN, and the South African Association for Jazz Education.
It is inspired by a broad conference topic, “Does Jazz Matter?”, which would have been hosted by the South African Association for Jazz Education later this year, but which had to be cancelled because of the national lockdowns.
The free online festival will be presented to mark global Jazz Appreciation Month, which is held to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz.
People of all ages are encouraged to participate in jazz, to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and more.
Legendary South African composer Todd Matshikiza will be spotlighted in two webinars.
In “Milestones: The Todd Matshikza Centenary”, journalist Sam Mathe will discuss his life and career with Dr Lindelwa Dalamba (Wits University), Dr Sazi Dlamini (UKZN), Nomfundo Xaluva (University of Cape Town) and Dr Carol Muller (University of Pennsylvania).
In “King Kong: 60 Years Later”, Adam Glasser will present his popular lecture reflecting on the musical 60 years after its staging. The legendary sixties musical, written by Matshikiza, has always been part of London-based South African harmonica player and pianist Glasser’s personal history.
As a child he saw dress rehearsals in the Wits Great Hall before the cast left for London in 1961 with his father Stanley “Spike” Glasser, their musical director.
Glasser’s mother Mona wrote the only book ever published on King Kong, and as a Johannesburg teenager, he was drawn often to Dorkay House to seek out original musicians from the King Kong band.
He also has a particularly strong memory of meeting Mackay Davashe and then attending his funeral in Soweto just a few days later in January 1971.
There will also be a webinar, “Covid-19: Impacts on the Jazz Festival and Gig Economy”, presented by print and digital media journalist Atiyyah Khan, which will probe the impact of the pandemic.
She will moderate a discussion with Billy Domingo (Cape Town International Jazz Festival), Mantwa Chinoamadi (Joy of Jazz), Alan Webster (National Youth Jazz Festival) and independent promoters Marlyn Knol and Nikki Froneman.
In “Dreaming and Believing: New South African Voices in Jazz”, Brenda Sisane will present a programme featuring six young South African jazz musicians, their music and discuss with them their aspirations.
The full programme is available on the websites of each of the partners and will be live-streamed on all social-media platforms.