MUSIC FREELEARNING PRESENTS “AFRIKA YEAR”

Music Free Learning is an innovative combination of live performance, education, indigenous knowledge systems, database and archives, audio-visual mentorship and workshops. Live Recordings of Season 3 AFRIKA YEAR welcome schools, community centres, academies and professionals as we dig deep into the heartbeat if African musics; maskanda, reggae, vocal music, traditional and Basadi jazz.

Episode ONE : Rays of Hope lead by drummer, composer, arranger and singer Anikki Maswanganye gives hope to girl child, female and women instrumentalists in traditionally a male dominated industry. Her platform Ladies in Jazz was founded 10 years ago to showcase female creative talents. This music heals through song, gives courage and uplifts people’s spirit.

Episode TWO: Bonny Zulu and her band make the transition from backing vocals to the lead singer in the style and spirit of the great songbirds of SA music, Abie Cindi, Sibongile Khumalo, Sophie Mgcina, Dolly Rathebe, Abigail Kubheka and Themi.

Episode THREE: Geoffrey Tracey is a sangoma, story-teller and music educator. Known as “Gogo Hugh,” the grandson of Hugh Tracey he continues the legacy of reconnecting African cultures through music. Geoff is an authorised traditional knowledge keeper, working with the continuous and ancient African practices of the sangoma, reconnecting humanity to our spirit practices, our extra-sensory capacities and the ancient wisdom or what he calls 5D (fifth dimension) technology.

EPISODE FOUR : With Twenty years of over 100 shows a year, Tidal Waves are considered the hardest working reggae band in South Africa. The band is lead by Jacob ‘Jakes’ Wulana (guitar & vocals) and perform original reggae music with blues, mbaqanga and rock influences singing in English, Afrikaans, Setswana and Tshivhenda. They have performed alongside reggae greats Ziggy Marley and The Easy Star All Stars.

Episode FIVE: David “Qadasi” Jenkins, Maskandi vocalist, guitarist, concertina and banjo player from Empangeni performs with friend and highly respected Maskandi artist, Maqhinga Radebe reviving traditional Zulu Maskandi music, promoting Zulu culture, traditional music and social cohesion on recordings and performances worldwide.

AFRIKA YEAR is the title of Season Three of the the innovative Music: Free-learning, multi-media education programme.

Afrika Year is produced by Sausage Films with the support of The Department of Sports arts and Culture Mzansi Golden Economy, AMPD Studios by Old Mutual and Business Arts South Africa (BASA).

The release of the “Afrika Year” Season 3 of 5 episodes, combining an AV tutorial of documentary, live performance and interview together with detailed course-work (a pre-task and post-task) will commence on Afrika Day May 25th and be available for free download here

Upstairs in the Township by Barney Rachabane

Purchase this album at https://afribeat.bandcamp.com/

Upstairs in the Township was Barney’’s last album created in a studio somewhere around 2010. As the studio went under, Barney salvaged a pile of DVDs of the recording sessions.

In 2014 he gave these DVDs to me and said “please help me – what can we do?”

The rescued DVDs from which this release was recreated are not audio files, nor video, 10000s of data files – in fact 4GB of material that we sifted through over years. I am talking about the separates, different files, 10s of thousands of files – unlabelled and dumped in a hurry during the closing of that studio. These were reconstituted over the span of two – three years into the ten songs you hear on the album. To be clear Upstairs in the Township is therefore one album from one incomplete recording session. Our initial aim was to find the funds to complete it properly to Barney’s specifications, but time ran out – and funding was never available. There were no details of performers available for this recording. Hence all attribution is to Barney Rachabane as producer arranger and performer.

The opening track Ritual Serenade is a special tribute. The over-dubbing of Octavia and Thantaswa onto the original Serenade song was an exercise in healing, which poet Vusi Mchunu and Neil Passage One Studios brilliantly facilitated. It was a success that was orchestrated and followed the traditional Pedi healing ritual that Octavia and family underwent.

As a music education and heritage intervention, afribeat.com has successfully assisted many of South African creatives in releasing their expressions. Afribeat.com creates action and interventions from the philosophical foundation of ubuntu – togetherness, and is grateful to offer this project to the Rachabane family as a popular product to hep bring in much needed resources during this time of need. Find the album online or physical copies direct from Octavia : enquire at strubuntu@gmail.com

Story of South African Jazz

The Story of South African Jazz describes the development of this beautiful music through 5 distinct era’s called “rays.” To help tell the expansive depth of this musical evolution we have chosen ONE song for each ray. This is the selection.
1. The Golden Era: Rosa by Dark City Sisters
2. The Inxiles and Exiles: I remember Billy by Chris McGregor Big Band
3. The Liberation Era: Vukani by Bheki Mseleku (Eugene Skeef choice)
4. The Freedom Era: Long Waltz to Freedom by Zim Ngqawana
5. Co-Creation: Siyabonga by Yonela Mnana (His choice)



My question to you great jazz afficianado’s and friends is what are your 5 choices? Before you respond, a quick word on why these songs from my side…. The Golden Era can be depicted through the lovely Dolly Rathebe’s sensitive Kitty Blues, the Manhattan Brothers raucous Shaka Zulu or any one of Miriam Makeba’s profound renditions. But I choose the sweltering beauty of Dark City Sisters because of Mozambican guitar player Fany Mpfumo. He illustrates how South Africa is not so much a country with borders as it is a region with a diversity of people interacting, contributing and creating together. Chris McGregors Big Band of 1963, brought together an 18 piece exceptional and well rehearsed collective music first orchestra, the quality of which has never been heard since. Much of the band chose exile and others inxile. “I remember Billy” was one song they played. Personally, “I remember Barney”. He was a 17 year old sax player at the time. He was hip then, hip before and hip through every single era of South African Jazz from beginning to end. Vukani by Bheki Mseleku was chosen by Eugene Skeef, a long time friend and associate of Bheki. His reasons for choosing this song from Timelessness, a tune of light piercing through the dark clouds, and a message to wake up to a new dawn. As much as liberation was the theme of that era, it remains entirely relevant to today. The Freedom Era was brought to life by the visual beauty of Moses Molelekwa in particular, but the Zimphonic Suites classic Long Waltz to Freedom with the enigmatic horn playing of Marcus Wyatt is chosen as it illustrates the Zimology or the Philosophy of inner-attainment of the greatest expanses of our music making. It is this heart first approach that provided the avenue to freedom. And in the current period it is Yonela Mnana, a brilliant soul and profound musician, who chose his rendition of Siyabonga as a sign of things to come. With peace, blessings and gratitude to all who participate in this story, from the virtuosos, composers and mentors to the artists, engineers and effectionados. And of course radio DJs – remember to tune in :::

Barney’s Way : a tribute to Barney Rachabane

JAN1959 – “10 year old Barney “Bunny” Rachabane of
Alexandra Township. Bunny hit the news when his group,
the Alexandra Junior All Stars, was stranded in Cape
Town after appearing in Lofty Adam’s ‘Africa Sings!’ The
Union of Southern African Artists came to the rescue and
sent the boys money to come home to the Rand.
Immediately they were back they were plunged right into
the ‘Township Jazz,’ wrote Drum Magazine. Image
courtesy Bailey’s Archive

In 1980 Barney and Elizabeth Rachabane had their last-born child – Octavia Rachabane. Their first born child was already out of school, and the other two were strong achievers. However life in Pimville through the late 60s and 70s had been very difficult, for musicians in particular. Barney had opened a curtaining business and a corner shop just to ensure his children had shoes for school.

Octavia was a blessing. Her dad was a virtuoso saxophone player that despite the difficulties of the period, had played regularly throughout the 60s and 70s with many bands in Cape Town and Johannesburg. He was with the Rockets in Cape Town, and a classic photo exists of him performing at the Market Theatre alongside Bheki Mseleku and Allen Kwela.

Barney’s long-time collaborator throughout this era was Dennis Mpale, the legendary trumpeter. Together they formed the Jazz Disciples, The Soul Giants and the Count Wellington Jazz Band. Barney also had his own project The Sound Proofs.

In 1982, Octavia had her first taste of the travelling life of the musician when she travelled with mum and dad for the TechnoBush project with Hugh Masekela in Botswana. Hugh was in exile, living in New York since the 60s. Barney never went into exile. He stayed at home. But regardless of the path musicians took, they were all united by the common reality of livelihood.

Apartheid in South Africa had already been examined through the 1976 youth uprising in Soweto. And Paul Simon’s Graceland recordings 1985-6 eventually broke the cultural boycott and started what would become the musical march to freedom. And he built it around the music of mbaqanga, or what he called “the reggae of South Africa.”

Barney, mbaqanga jazz pioneer, was included in the Graceland project. He, like many of the collaborators on that project including Joseph Shabalala and Ray Phiri, formed a life-long friendship with Paul Simon. A great photograph hangs in Barney’s lounge of them playing together on his stoep in around 2012.

Graceland also brought in much money for the family (“briefcases,” Barney said), and gave Barney the opportunity to re-build his family home with a second storey home. Barney’s storoes of money and the music are touch and go. Barney went professional at the age of 7 in 1954. This was the age of the “Pennywhistle Jive” or the “Kwela Craze.” Barney was already very hip and earned through busking on the street corners of Johannesburg.

Born in Alexandra Township, near Sandton Johannesburg, in 1946, Barney had grown up in the pennywhistle hotspot on the globe. Alexandra was the home of many penny-whistle players. Ntemi Piliso who formed the African Jazz Pioneers, Willard Cele who appeared in a movie, ‘Big Voice’ Jack, who ended up on stage with Dave Matthew in USA, and his brother, who wrote hit songs, Elias Lerole. Spokes Mashiyane moved into Alexandra from his herd-boy origins and started the Alexandra Dead End Kids. Lemmy ’Special’ Mabaso had the Alexandra Junior Bright Boys and Barney Rachabane, the Alexandra Junior All Stars. Barney’s All Stars made their first hit in 1957 with an independent record company called Jive. The hit was named “Piccanini,” politically incorrect and also an attempt for international recognition. This it got through an Argentinian licence. Not much is known about the role Jive records played in exploiting South African music. It seems the label may have taken its name from the Jive music of South Africa. Jive grew to become the largest independent record company in 2000. Barney never saw any royalties.

Barney and Lemmy’s penywhistle comradery reached a turning point when Barney’s role as the pennywhistler in Kong Kong was given to Lemmy Mabaso. Barney’s mum had said her son was too young for a musical that was scheduled to go to London. It may have been a bitter pill for Barney to swallow at that tender age, but it was for the best and perhaps the very first indication of what Barney means when he says, “I walk with God.”

Those years at home became the seminal moulding period for Barney Rachabane. He started building for his future. At the age of 16 in 1962, Barney met Elizabeth. They were married and had their first born. Barney got lessons at Dorkay House to read music and became an alto saxophonist in the midst of a musical hub. Dorkay House was abuzz with the stars of that era, jazz singers Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe and Letta Mbulu, music educators such as Phineas Phetoe and the finest saxophonists Zakes Nkosi, Mackay Davashe and Kippie Moeketsi.

Kippie was a direct musical senior to Barney and they shared the stage in 1963 with the Chris McGregor’s Castle Lager Big Band. The 19 year old Barney had his baptism of African Jazz, in an all fire saxophone section of Kippie Moeketsi, Dudu Pukwana, Mackay Davashe and Christopher “Mra” Nguckana.

This fire never subsided. By 1964 when Barney stood in for Kippie Moeketsi to live record with the Early Mabuza Quartet, he made another international impression with the producer lauding “his attack and swing.”

Barney managed to give his family ‘stability’. This was very rare for so-called jazz musicians of that era. Octavia Rachabane

By the 1980s Barney was known as “the most soulful saxophone player in the world.” He performed at festivals and events on all 5 continents, particularly with Graceland, and he recorded two solo albums in London produced by Hugh Masekela.

Barney’s only son Leonard studied saxophone at the UKZN jazz department directed by Darius Brubeck. This was a golden period with two generations of musicians sharing the bandstand at the Rainbow Restaurant in Pinetown under the banner “Jazz for the struggle and the struggle for jazz.” The young students of the day, all the Bra’s; Lex bass player, Feya trumpet player, Lulu, drums and Zim saxophone, performed with the veterans, Bra Barney, Bra Pat and Bra Winston on a regular basis. This is how the baton is passed from one generation to the next. Some highlights of this era were recorded by Melt2000, on the album Darius Brubeck Live in New Orleans.

Leonard was a rising star on the UKZN jazz scene. His death was sudden and a shock to the Rachabane family. It was through Leonard’s band that Octavia, still at school, had her first break as a singer.

The puzzle around Leonards death was his unborn child. Records in South Africa showed that his girlfriend had given the child up for adoption after Leonards death. But where the child went they never knew until quite miraculously, one teenage violinist from a wonderful home in Australia followed his adoption records. This is David Webster and in 2014 he was reunited with his grandparents and of course his cousins, like born saxophonist Oscar Rachabane. Oscar grew up on the penny-whistle. There can be no doubt about that. The family is expecting his return from rehabilitation one of these days. Barney never understood what happened to Oscar. Was it the drink or the drugs? Both or neither. These are the downfalls on the path of the musician. Barney had to overcome drinking at some point in his career. Many of his colleagues never did.

Elizabeth and Octavia were planning their second visit to Australia when Elizabeth died suddenly on the 31st of July 2021. She was 73.

I had first met Barney in 2012 at the Grahamstown Jazz Festival. He was performing with Octavia and Oscar in one of the most exciting family bands I had seen. I got into their taxi after the show. And I journeyed with them for another 9 years.

August 1st Barney called me with the earth shattering news. “My wife,” he exclaimed over the phone. “My friend,” he studied. “Has died. We were together 57 years,” he said. That would be the last day I saw Barney. As I drove away from the family home in Pimville, he sat on the stoep with his arm raised in power. The image he gave me was of the indestructible beat of Soweto. Barney died 103 days after his wife on 12.11.21. This was two days before what would have been “Nini,” his wife’s 74th birthday.

Upstairs in the Township is re-compiled and edited from an unfinished session around 2010. Barney produced, arranged, composed and performed. No other details are name. This album is being listened to through private viewing currently with a view to release. More information: struan@afribeat.com

Jazz and Freedom: Schools Presentation

Through interviews, journalism and my own journey of learning to play; what I have discovered is these great stories of South African Jazz, told by pioneering spirits, offer a universal and archetypal experience that can be relevant and helpful to each and every one of us. These are the journey’s of the heroes :

You can learn more at this link : Or book Struan Douglas for your school at this link :

Sausage Film Company’s Music Free-Learning programme grows in strength

Sausage Film Company established 2020 to create valuable free music learning resources.

1. ARTISTIC MERIT

Music Free-Learning is a unique and multi-facetted digital solution for a win win solution to the current circumstances of the South African music industry and long-term solutions.

The project is founded on the artistic merit of Story of South African Jazz book series by Struan Douglas. This book series is now part of the curriculum grades 10 – 12. 

Music free-learning is the conversion of the Story of South African Jazz Book series into audio visual and curriculum based learning material for scholars, students and young entrepreneurs. 

All Music Free-learning episodes are scripted by high quality authors, rehearsed by the very best presenters, filmed and edited in an effective manner and released in an accessible format in an artistic quality that is popular and practical. 

2. CREATIVITY

The Music Free-learning episodes identify well-known and trusted musicians, practitioners and educators from the Story of South African Jazz to present an innovative digital solution for a long-term multiplier effect for music careers and music education.

The musicians and practitioners that Music Free-Learning works with are the most creative and innovative in their field. The best they have to offer to education is brought out through a highly creative interview, scripting, filming, editing and release process – augmented by the production of valuable written educational material.

3.INNOVATION

The need for digital solutions has been met by the initial production of this Music Free-Learning VOD (Video on Demand) series. VOD is open source and always available. This allows the educational material to meet multiple needs and produce multiple results.

Music Free-Learning is highly innovative as it combines a multi-disciplinary approach to the production of this VOD series. Each video in the series includes a researched and written script, a rehearsed presenter performance, a filmed presentation and written educational task-based learning material.

The delivery of the educational material is multi-media and can be accessed through internet, website and email, social media and cellphone data, as well as delivery by hard copy. Partnerships with schools, educators, institutions, business and outreach can make the delivery wider spread.   

5. AMBITION

The Intention of Music Free-learning and the proposed online curriculum-based learning for South African Jazz fulfils two primary ambitions.

Firstly to alleviate musicians loss of revenue from live performance by promoting their endeavours in the educational space; and secondly to offer some inspiration and empowerment to scholars, students and young entrepreneurs particularly those negatively affected by the isolation of the lockdown.  

In our pilot programme produced with support of DSAC we have achieved these outcomes and now wish to extend this for the benefit of both musicians, educators and students.

6. NEW TECHNOLOGIES

The Music Free-Learning Video’s on Demand are at the forefront of new technology in the industry not only in their multi-disciplined production and multi-media distribution, but in the unique and insightful content that presenters bring forward in the education videos.

Significant aspects of the Music Free-Learning curriculum include the music industry where all music worldwide is traced, monitored and traded in an interconnected system of new technologies, as well as live performance which benefits from cutting edge technology.      

7. AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT

An audience develops through action, participation, engagement and appreciation through knowledge sharing. Through learning the true history, continued role and real story of our music – learners, educators as well as practitioners can more clearly define their own role in this never-ending story.

8. MARKET ACCESS

Initial market access happens through fulfilling music educators with their fore-most requirement – free curriculum based education material.

The Story of South African Jazz Book Series is highly relevant to community centres, universities and young entrepreneurs.

To date the Story of South African Jazz at multiple IEB schools in KZN and JHB, has been introduced to CAP schools in KZN and Western Cape and has been used extensively in the USA. These and other partnerships will be extended to introduce the material to as wide an audience as possible.

All interested parties will be supplied with the full list of Music Free-learning course material to be implemented. The course material not only includes the video on demand series but specific pre-tasks and post-tasks for each and a final assignment.

9. SUSTAINABILITY

The sustainability plan is built around the presenters of the videos which are the musicians and music professionals. As musicians have been hit hard by the lack of live performance – by shifting their attention to education offers them a longer term career option, revenue and income stream.

The second generation of the sustainability plan is the students themselves.

10. LEGACY

Students will learn:

The full general knowledge syllabus of both IEB and CAP.
Online technology of video learning and feedback on demand.
Collaborative online skills through a peer-to-peer platform.
Develop their creative skills

Educators will gain:

An archive of resources to apply to both year-end examinations and additional studies.
Improved knowledge base of SA Jazz and musicians and online student communication.

Musicians will gain:

Opportunity to earn through teaching.
Archive of video sessions to serve as a foundation so as to build an online teaching course of their own going forward.

The Industry will gain:

The written material will be packaged into accessible downloads. An online resource will be created for further teachings and instructions. The programme will build an online internet community for all participants.

Follow the programme at sausagefilms.co.za

Music Free-Learning Programme Launching Soon

SIGN UP HERE

Good day to you student musicians, S.A. jazz learners, music and jazz teachers. Welcome to our South African music summer course.
In this e-learning, e-music course we are interactive, participatory, provocative and rely on music to be heard, played and enjoyed.

The Music Free-learning course is a task based learning course, meaning that there are 8 distinct video lessons that come with two tasks each, called PRE and POST task. You can download these tasks at the links beneath each video.

You may wish to answer some of the tasks in writing or in audio visual feedback. You are welcome to share your inspiration with us as you go through each and every video or store it for your final assessment.

The FINAL ASSESSMENT for this course is for the student to create a video feedback outlining your inspiration, innovation, learning and unique realization.

The best feedback videos will be rewarded with a free set of The Story of South African Jazz Book series (Volumes 1 & 2).

The future is dazzling. Free-learning is fun, taking you to that special place within where all there is the potential to shine and develop unique and positive ways of accessing the future of your dreams.

Thank you for all your kindness and support. Until next time – stay musical !!!

Afribeat.com founded April 1st 2000

Afrbeat.com is a Pan African content portal, cultural agitation, arts exchange, knowledge network and publishing center.

This internet portal was ESTABLISHED 01.04.2000 as a network of authentic African musicians, griots and sonic warriors and healers. A sharing of the spirit, soul and sunny side of Southern African music. An inter-generational, international Pan African initiative for festivity, entertainment and the creative economy.

  • Pan African Content Portal
  • Pan African Self Publishing Services
  • Music Industry Business and Education

The continuity of African expression is preserved by a depth of stories from across the continent. Philosophical activism and insights is impacting the whole world with a truth a beauty that illustrates the deep consequence of African power. Read More here