Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

375

South African Jazz: Introduction

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
This special section is devoted to South African jazz, which has prospered for several decades and developed a distinctive character all its own. AAJ: SA was created in 2002 and has since been updated with a continual stream of new material.

This is the Introduction page. To visit the rest of this series, click on the links below.



Start
Introduction
Political History
Timeline
Articles
CD Reviews
Glossary
Links
Credits




South African music comes in as many varieties as it has influences. About a dozen African groups called the area home before European colonization. Then, during the 18th and 19th centuries, British, Dutch, and other settlers moved in. They brought their own traditions, including an especially large dose of Christian choral and ensemble music.

African-American jazz forms began percolating into the region in the early 20th century. Ragtime and dixieland led to the development of a uniquely South African musical form called marabi , popular among blacks in urban ghettoes. With the onset of swing, this music became progressively more complex and urbane. Kwela was all the rage during the '50s, followed on its heels by the sleek and sophisticated sounds of mbaqanga . Now that the 21st century has hit South Africa, it's become impossible to resolve the many influences which give the region's music its particular flavor.

One thing is for sure: South African jazz is more vital as ever. It grew and developed during the dark ages of apartheid—as an underground movement, a statement of protest and identity; and as an expatriate music in the hands of banned international stars (including Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Hugh Masekela ). But jazz has exploded since the first South African free elections in 1994—both in amount and diversity.

When Zim Ngqawana led a group of 100 drummers, singers, and dancers at Nelson Mandela's inauguration in 1994, he heralded a new era.

Free elections mean freedom of speech and expression, and today's South African jazz artists have taken these new freedoms to the hilt. South African jazz spans the range from quiet new age sounds to outspoken fiery expressionism. And fortunately for us, some of the brightest stars on the scene have taken ample opportunities to express themselves on record.

(For more information on specific musicians and events, consult our detailed timeline . And for a detailed lexicography of all terms South African, inspect our glossary .)


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read South African Jazz: Articles All About Jazz: South Africa South African Jazz: Articles
by AAJ Staff
Published: April 19, 2004
Read "Gunhild Carling: Sweden's Incredible Talent" Catching Up With Gunhild Carling: Sweden's Incredible Talent
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: November 25, 2017
Read "Tal Wilkenfeld Live At The Belly Up Tavern" SoCal Jazz Tal Wilkenfeld Live At The Belly Up Tavern
by Jim Worsley
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "Martin Speake: The Thinking Fan's Saxophonist" Profiles Martin Speake: The Thinking Fan's Saxophonist
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Mark Guiliana: A Natural Progression of Research" Interview Mark Guiliana: A Natural Progression of Research
by Angelo Leonardi
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Jazz & Existentialism: Worlds Apart?" Philosophisticated Lady Jazz & Existentialism: Worlds Apart?
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: March 9, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!