This is his list of the top 9 things you need to know about jazz music in Johannesburg.
1. KOHINOOR WORLD OF MUSIC The oldest and most iconic record shop in the city. A family business founded by Oom Rashid Valley (pictured above), music producer and promoter said to be responsible for bringing Dollar Brand to Johannesburg in the late 1950s, and spreading the jazz love for generations, this store deserves heritage status.
2. THE ORBIT JAZZ CLUB Sure it’s a bit tres-chic, and yes, it’s in vogue and your New Money show-offs have taken to it in a huge way, but this new Braamfontein venue is still the most important, spacious, professional and centrally located jazz joint Johannesburg has had since the ushering in of a democratic dispensation.
3. CARLO MOMBELLI Bassist, composer and educator Mombelli is, quite frankly, one of the few remaining jazz and music innovators and performers. His “world music” experimental flourishes and spiritual as well as electronic genre tangents gift his music with beautiful textures and colours. He lives in Melville and performs around the city and the country.
4. THE JAZZ PIONEERS Johannesburg should count its blessings to still have within its midst iconic names such as Hugh Masekela, Caiphus Semenya & Letta Mbulu, Jonas Gwangwa, and the last of Sophiatown 1950s grand dames of song: Dorothy Masuka, Thandi Klaasen and Abigail Khubeka. Masekela is quite simply James Brown’s heir as “the hardest working musician alive”, with over 250 live gigs overseas. Sightings of him on local stages are rare. Catch him when you can. The others are still dependable virtuosos in local festivals.
5. JAZZ IMAGE CHRONICLER VICTOR DLAMINI Primarily a portrait photographer, his work on the live circuit possesses the same alertness and empathy with the subject as the work of the 1950s-1960s Jazz Photography Masters. Together with Oscar Gutierrez and Muntu Vilakazi, Dlamini is one of the reigning trio of premium music lensmen in this town.
6. JAZZ LOVERS Never mind that in South Africa hip-hop and house music DJs passes for jazz acts and that the die-hard fans have to contend with kwaito masses at “jazz festivals”, it’s the people who still offer hope that this city will reclaim the tradition and glory it once had in the heady days of Dorkay House, Rev. Trevor Huddleston, and the most famous jazz revue to come of this city, King Kong, the musical.
7. JOY OF JAZZ The annual Spring jazz festival held in Sandton always brings together a high-profile lineup of jazz music who's who to Johannesburg.
8. GWEN ANSELL Gwen Ansell is the Pauline Kael of South African jazz journalism, the only jazz critic musicians look for critical assessment from - even though most bitch that she doesn’t get them. Her midweek jazz column in Business Day is required reading.
9. JAZZ IN THE CRADLE This annual Spring live jazz picnic has been racking up kudos since it was piloted five years ago. A joint venture by the bold and experimental Gallery MoMo and the Nirox Foundation held at its sculpture park in the Cradle of Humankind, it has become a much anticipated calendar date.