Jazz orchestra born at last

THERE has been talk in government circles for some time of the possibility of starting the country's first jazz orchestra. The project has now come to fruition.

THERE has been talk in government circles for some time of the possibility of starting the country's first jazz orchestra. The project has now come to fruition.

South African jazz will receive a boost when internationally renowned pianist, composer and band leader Abdullah Ibrahim performs with the newly created New South African Orchestra along with several very special guests.

And among jazz lovers, as much as interest is growing in seeing some kind of investment in their art form through the creation of this orchestra, it will be interesting to see what standard this orchestra creates in jazz circles. This concert, which promises to be a must-see live event, takes place on Saturday, February 27, at the Johannesburg City Hall. This is the right time to go and judge for oneself the musical standard created by this orchestra.

Until then, we can at least be excited that something that adds to the rich jazz heritage of this country has actually happened. Many great arts ideas have been discussed but ended in the boardrooms and not on the stage where they belong.

On February 27, Cleave Guyton, Belden Bullock and George Gray - a trio of New York City-based musicians who regularly perform with Ibrahim as part of Ekaya - are among the special guests, along with highly regarded local artists Khaya Mahlangu, Feya Faku and Barney Rachabane.

Ibrahim oversaw the birth of the Orchestra last year , with the support of the Department of Arts and Culture.

With Ibrahim as the convener, the musicians who will be taking to the stage on February 27 were discovered during auditions held in Johannesburg in October last year.

These established musicians make up Morolong. The ensemble has already had stage experience by a privileged few who attended a live show at the Market Theatre late last year. I missed that particular concert, and until February 27 cannot say whether or not this is the real deal.

Featuring players adept on sax, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, drums, guitar and percussion, Morolong follows the Big Band tradition. The concert will be dedicated to alto sax legend Kippie Moeketsi.

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