Our jazz heritage to inspire youth

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

A musical celebrating our jazz heritage is on at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg.

It features some of South Africa's leading lights in jazz and and fine examples of our jazz past

Rich in jazz and the vibrant jazz heritage has inspired the creation of a musical stage show entitled Crazy for Jazz: A Nation's Story, to teach the youth and cultivate in them an appreciation of our jazz roots.

Produced by Jazz for Juniors and supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, the City of Johannesburg and MMINO (which is a South African-Norwegian music cooperation initiative) Crazy For Jazz was "born out of the desire to educate South Africa's youth about the history of South African jazz and encourage them to appreciate jazz and other home-grown music," says Rosie Katz.

Katz, who has had extensive experience in music development, is driving this music education project with Standard Bank Young Artist Award-winner Concord Nkabinde and former Clout member Jenny Garson.

Aimed at schools, the hour-long musical is being staged for invited scholars until April 30.

Following this pilot phase, Jazz for Juniors hopes to secure funding for a national roll-out, which will enabe the play to be performed in other provinces.

A strong team of contributors has enlisted. They are musical directors Nkabinde, celebrated jazz musician Themba Mkhize, who was recipient of the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Jazz in 2001, multi award-winning choreographer Gregory Maqoma, acclaimed director James Ngcobo and scriptwriters Tsepo wa Mamatu and Helen Hansen.

The meticulously researched script has been compiled with input from educators as well as assistance from jazz authorities Hotep Galeta, Gwen Ansell, Mesh Mapetla, Stan Bodibe, David Copland and music archivist Rob Allingham.

It is an entertaining narrative, which is interspersed with contemporary lingo and complemented by live performances of jazz classics and audio-visuals featuring archive footage and historical recordings.

Three actors tell alively story through words, song and dance, aided by a five-piece band that includes elder statesmen of jazz, double bassist Ernest Mothle.