Live jazz makes comeback
Cultural activist Sifiso Ntuli and his business partner S'busiso Nxumalo will this weekend launch a live music concept that aims to connect music venues with artists
THERE used to be a vibrant atmosphere as live music once ruled the stages of Gauteng's nightlife venues, with jazz at some stage dominating, but then something happened.
Jazz venues such as Kippies in Newtown, Blue Note in Randburg, Barrington's in Killarney, 707 in Soweto, Bassline (the original Melville jazz joint) and several others in the townships closed down, one after the other, leaving music fans disappointed and robbing artists of one of the ways of making a livelihood at a time when CD sales are down - thanks mainly to piracy.
Some artists have relocated to more culturally vibrant areas such as Cape Town, whose live music scene has withstood the hard times.
Casino venues have kept the culture of live performances alive, and venues such as Birchwood Hotel and the new Bassline in Newtown have endured the rigours of the entertainment industry, but the majority of the places that used to host live bands have over the years either closed down completely, or downscaled to hosting only DJs, instead of live music.
However, the good old days seem to be clawing back into the limelight with a number of venues, ranging from restaurants to night clubs, coming back to life once more.
Cultural activist Sifiso Ntuli and his business partner S'busiso Nxumalo will, this weekend, launch a live music concept that aims to connect music venues with artists.
Called JaZZme, the concept launches at the famous Nambitha's restaurant on Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Soweto, as part of an ambitious music meet-tourism concept called Jazz Meander.
Ntuli and Nxumalo have partnered with the Department of Arts and Culture to launch this initiative on Saturday, June 16, and will see some of the big names in contemporary jazz such as saxophonist Sydney Mnisi, pianist Andile Yenana, bassist Herbie Tsoaeli and vocalist Josie Field take to the stage in a first for this restaurant, notably famous with overseas tourists.
Although this is a once-off event, the fact that it is a first concert of its kind to take place in a Soweto restaurant joint, where strictly jazz giants will share the stage, probably shows the resurgence of live music interest in Soweto.
The following are some of the places where one can find hot performers on certain days of the week:
- Niki's Restaurant in Newtown is back to life again on Fridays as it hosts some of the most interesting bands in contemporary jazz as well as African adult contemporary jazz.
Here you are likely to bump into a BEE-type businessman as well as stars in theatre who often have shows at the nearby MarketTheatre.
- Bassline, also in Newtown, is a place to check out for live music.
Even though the place is especially well-known for its famous Thursday raga sessions, it also hosts live music regularly.
- Booysens Hotel in Booysens in southern Johannesburg has also distinguished itself as a place for live music, especially on Thursdays.
- Zebra Pont, situated in the vibrant ghetto of Yeoville, corner Joe Slovo and Raleigh streets, has a corner house that does not look like a place where you will find big names performing because of its size.
But come Sundays and Mondays, the place comes alive with some of the big names in music such as Arthur Mafokate, Kelly Khumalo, Chommee, M'du, Spikiri, Speedy and Mshoza being regularly featured there.
The place is also popular for hosting house music DJs such as DJ White, Mgarapes and Mindlos.
In fact, on a Monday when there is a live music act the place becomes so packed that it becomes difficult to move around.
- In Central Johannesburg, the place to be on a Monday evening is Pata Pata on the famous Arts On Main, on Main Street.
This is the place where you will find some of the freshest music talent performing under the platform of Monday Blues, a music concept started by cultural activist Peter Makurube in the 1990s.
Check out their Monday line-up to see who is performing.