Thank you Doctor Google !

In November 2013 I was walking through the bush on my way to the printer when I began to get severe chest pains. At the age of 38, and in good shape, I was very surprised. I thought I was having a mild heart attack. The attack passed. I held my heart in place and shuffled home. I spent two days in bed, read Stig Larssens awesome trilogy and when the heart had relaxed I approached Dr Google.

I listed my ailments, heart palpitation, shooting pains in the lower belly and excess gas. Dr Google started teaching me about the hiatal hernia. But with Dr Google, all outcomes are possible, it is a choice, and if you do not exercise your choice s/he will lead you to the generic outcome, which in the case of hernia is surgery.

I wanted natural healing so I augmented my search with key phrases such as “healing,” “holistic”, “love” and “music.” It was “music” that pushed me to my healing because when Dr Google saw that, s/he showed me a trumpet players thread, because hiatal hernia is common among trumpeters. Almost all trumpeters on the thread had gone under the knife and had the problem chopped right out. However the last thread some character wrote the very message that pushed me to heal. He wrote all in capitals … DO NOT HAVE SURGERY.

Once I was resolved on that major choice and had decided completely to take the natural path, Dr Google began to really open my eyes to the nature of this ailment in order to heal it naturally. The hiatal hernia is caused by a build up of anger. And if I wanted to heal my hiatal hernia naturally I had to face up to and take responsibility for my anger. Dr Google told me there is one way to do that, ‘speak to Jesus!’

I got to it. I turned off the lights, jumped into bed and began my conversation with Jesus. I explained everything; that I had developed a hiatal hernia. It was a build up of anger. And I needed to release the anger so that I could heal. And so it happened. As if watching a movie about myself in relation to my anger I came face to face with the cause of my hernia. I saw all the experiences, deep into my childhood, that I was holding onto. It took a whole night. I was crying, praying, apologising, scolding, forgiving, letting go and healing.

Next day, I got out Dr Google and typed in hiatal hernia, natural heal. And Dr Google delivered a do it yourself remedy, and a chiropractor remedy. According to Dr Google, a chiropractor can role these things out in a few minutes. I decided to go with the expert. I chose that option and then Dr Google introduced me to a chiropractor in Durban, specialising in hernia’s. I went to see him straight away. He asked me my ailment, I said hiatal hernia. He asked me who diagnosed me, I said Dr Google. He laughed and said he will investigate. He pressed deep into my belly, and said you do not have a hiatal hernia. You have two! And he rolled them out for me. Within five minutes it was all over ! ———

Dr Google is a very hard task master, s/he can come up with anything under the sun. So you have to be sure. Combining Dr Google’s advice with prayer and deep intuitive meditation is a good suggestion. The right answer is out there.

In September 2014, I went to have my eyes tested. I had not done this for ten years. The eye doctor was astonished. He said my specs were double the prescription I required and gave me a new prescription. The day after I got my new glasses I developed tiny transparent pimples on the inside of the whites of either eye. They did not affect me at all other than they were slightly unsightly and I did not know what they were. Dr Google came up with nothing, until one day a friend asked, “What those spots in your eyes?” “Spot,” what a good description. Never thought of that. I ran it passed Dr Google and got the response. Pinguecula. Surgery as always was the common quick fix but it treats the ailment and not the cause. The causes vary from wind, rain, and sun to the liver. Liver you can change. I drew up a shopping list and replaced normal tea with green tea.

And then Dr Google showed me a thread where this ailment is common among surfers. And these surfers are diluting organic apple cider vinegar and dropping it into the corner of their eye. And it is clearing up the spot!

I got hold of Apple Cider Vinegar, with The Mother, and got a little over excited. I missed the corner of my eye and hit the cornea. This was painful. So I found the guy who writes in bold online. Somebody writes in response to the Apple Cider Vinegar cure … DON’T DO IT … I stopped at once. The eyes are something you can’t mess with …

The body is not an experimental station. STOP the treatment. PAIN is a sign that something is going wrong. So I stop and the ache diminishes. And when I see an optometrist. He says, pterygium you do not have to worry, artificial tears and omega 3 will clear it up …

It is important to note that Dr Google will only give you what you are looking for. It is not a healer. I, me, you ,we are the healers. Dr Google provides a comparative analysis. It is important to listen to the body more so that Dr Google. Health is a function of our body mind and soul; health is within and healing is a tool available to one and all, if we listen to the body.



Barney Rachabane meets The Minister of Arts and Culture

Barney Rachabane

Barney Rachabane

Some call it the indestructible beat of Soweto. Some call it from marabi to disco. Some call it the raucus township pop jazz sound. Some call it soul, mbaqanga or jazz. And for someone like Barney who has lived through all the era’s from pennywhistle jive, through explosive inxile jazz, and driving soul music, it is all that and more.

Barney Rachabane is regarded as “the most soulful saxophone player in the world.”
Barney Rachabane born in Alexandra township 1946, grandson of a reverend, is self taught and self actualized in every way. He is a man who found himself through jazz music and the melting pot of consciousness expressed through the melting pot of music. He was an inxile, he never went in for politics and is grateful that instead have having to suffer exile, he could build a home and a family which he has done very well.

One wonders why the minister has called him in. Perhaps they will be naming a road after him to add to Ntemi Piliso Road and Miriam Makeba Road and Mahlatini avenue. Now we can have a Rachabane highway!

We are looking forward to more performances of the Barney Rachabane Sextet; a powerful show full of musical delight and surprise …

This show highlights Barney Rachabane’s sixty year career at the top of South African music with some of his most stirring compositions performed together with the compositions and performances of his super talented musical offspring, his daughter, songstress Octavia Rachabane and grandson, bebop saxophonists Oscar Rachabane; in a dynamic, delightful and musically decadent sextet.

Barney Rachabane: Saxophone
Octavia Rachabane: Vocals
Oscar Rachabane : Saxophone
Thato Modise: Bass
Tseko Motaung: piano
Pat Ngwenya: drums

The show can be introduced by jazz playwrite and actor Thami Sikhosana with scripted passages from the book The Story of South African Jazz, Volume One and Two “The Real Thing” by Struan Douglas …
Thami Sikhosana: narrator
Struan Douglas: script writer

South African Jazz Legacy and Heritage

South African Jazz Composition : Past, present and future

I regard South African Jazz as a school that can facilitate the journey toward finding oneself. Those who know South African jazz share it with those who don’t and that is how we learn and how we grow. And that is why I see South African jazz as an aspect of uBuntu. By listening to the voices and identities of those who dared to express themselves there is a path laid out for one to find one’s own voice and identity.

The music has the power to bring change. Change is the alchemy of the music … I would like to look at Adams questions in light of this alchemical approach …

Which SA jazz tracks do you care about?

There is the past; whereby I suggest an approach of quantity more than quality. We have the reel book of Cape Jazz by Colin Miller and which presents 20 compositions. However we could one day have a reel book of South African jazz as thick as the ones of American Jazz.

And there is the future; whereby one can study the principles of South African Jazz to inform your own composition. And here I suggest work to inspire INNOVATION and IMPROVISATION …

Which compositions/recordings deserve to be part of jazz history?

A vast amount of research still needs to be conducted to pull out the recordings from private archives, radio archives, etc … From the 30’s – 70’s there is Hugh Tracey’s archive. From the 60’s there is the Ian Bruce Huntley Archive in South Africa and Ogun in England … And from the late 50’s onwards there is the SABC transcription and radio archive. And there are a number of musicians, sound engineers, impresarios and collectors sitting with unheard music on cassette, mini disks, other recordings and hard drives.  A massive release and sharing of the music needs to be encouraged. And the internet is facilitating this ….

Largely the real story of South African jazz is still being uncovered. And one way to reach deep in is to look at the composers. Over and above the composition, there is the composer. Take a composer like Mankunku. A serious student would find it very rewarding to notate every single note he ever played. Solo’s, compositions, improvisations … That would be a fantastic work . And from a completely different perspective the same can be said of Todd Matshikiza – everything he ever wrote, in words and music, transcribed and documented would be a tremendous resource. The deeper we dig into the past, the greater we arrive into the future.
South Africa Jazz history does not only come from an American jazz etiology. South African jazz comes from an ancient traditional music tradition and also a choral musical tradition. All this music should be incorporated. When our research becomes inclusive we break down all limitations of genre and border and thus we arrive into the future with a global music that is integrated and innovative …

Which compositions could be taught at schools & universities?

In my experience the greatest learning of the tradition of South African jazz, is the so called ‘township jazz experience’ or the INXILES; the musicians that stayed at home.
The INXILE musicians have preserved South African jazz music against all the odds and thus in an extraordinary kind of way it is them who really know how to share it and teach it. In my opinion the music is so deep and interpersonal, it goes beyond the four walls of money and academia. I call it “a transformative gift of sharing.”
In this regard instead of bringing the music into the schools and universities, more schools need to be supported out at the musicians homes.

Your choice of compositions …

In the past, there are many compositions and composers that need to be looked at from a quantitative perspective … We require a complete study that pulls together every strand of evidence of this music and presents it in an unprejudiced and factual way. The student may then decide how to advance the language of South African Jazz … I believe this to be a vast study, with enough room for everybody:

In the future, I like composers that consider the new age alchemy of transformation from the lead of our ego’s to the gold of hearts. In which case there is no right or wrong answer … there is “just music.” And when said with a big drawling accent that equates to juzzz music. Jazz music.

Songs that are practical to teach/recommend as syllubus

Stompie Menana says it is important to improvise after practice.

What is the south african sound

Morris Goldberg says accenting the and beat on the 4 makes for a South African sound.

How do south african musicians take ‘ownership’ of any composition

I think ‘ownership’ is an extremely tricky topic. I look at music as coming from the muse. The music therefore inhabits the composer and the composer releases it such as in the solo piano albums by Moses Molelekwa Darkness Pass and Hilton Schilder Rebirth …

Which SA composers/players have succeeded in the brilliant kind of fusion achieved by the Jazz Epistles

The great fusion the jazz epistles achieved was an exile of South African to Europe and beyond and a transformation of the landscape there.

In my research the real and important story is the music that stayed behind. And for that tremendous research, funds, festivals, acknowledgements and bursaries need to be raised …

Take the example of how JIVE records based its beginnings on the pennywhistle kids of the Alexandria All Stars became the biggest record label in the world making the careers of Britney and so on … And Take for example Graceland becoming the biggest selling album in the world in 1983 … Both projects included Barney Rachabane .

* * *

Some compositions and recordings to consider … From the Story of South African Jazz


No Title Artist Album Label
1 Scullery Department Jazz Epistles Freedom Blues Gallo
2 Pinises Dance Jazz Dazzlers Archive Africa SABC
3 Umthandazo Pat Matshikiza Archive Africa SABC

5 Davashes Dream Chris Mcgregor Brotherhood Fledg’ling
6 Spring Winston Mankunku Freedom Blues Gallo
7 Ntjilo Ntjilo Claude Deppe Township Jazz Ogun
8 Shaka Zulu Manhattan Brothers Best Of Gallo
9 Back of the Moon Miriam Makeba King Kong Gallo
10 Kittys Blues Dolly Rathebe Golden Afrique
11 Midnight Ska Hollywood Jazz Golden Afrique
12 Manenberg Revisited Abdullah Ibrahim Cape Town Enja
13 Joy Spirits Rejoice African Spaces Atlantic / Gallo
14 Cape Gypsy’s Genuines Night with the CG Mountain


N. Title Artist Album Label

1 Caminhos Tananas Seed Sony
2 Tanday Deepak Ram Essential Vibes Melt
3 Down Rocky Street Moses Molelekwa Genes and Spirits Melt
4 My Dali Barungwa Barungwa Melt
4 Journey from Within Bheki Mseleku Home at Last Sheer
5 Long Waltz To Freedom Zim Ngqawana Zimology Sheer
6 Zambezi Carlo Mombelli Serious Babies Baobab
7 Disentangled Goema Captains Afribeat Afribeat
8 Trains to Taung Paul Hanmer Trains to Taung Sheer
9 Dragon and Hugo Alex Van Heerden Moment in CT Afribeat
10 Eclipse Tribe Moment in CT Afribeat
12 Zvinoshamisa Louis Mahlangu Paul Kemenade Via records
13 Washa Washa Madala Kunene Kon’ko Man Melt

14 We Love You Spirits Rejoice Dedication Ogun

Adam’s composition selections:

Adam Glasser, son of Stanley Glasser the music director on King Kong, set out to compile an exhaustive list of South African “Jazz” music. He welcomed in all experts on the genre and asked them to speak about and share their music all day and then he performed a collection of his favourite standards. They were well orchestrated and transposed for a driving musical ensemble.

He has transposed them, scored them, rehearsed them and then performed them with a delightful ensemble … These were the songs he performed …

Zandile by Victor Ndlazilwana
Stay Cool by Tete Mbambisa
Blues for a hip king by Abdullah Ibrahim
Radebe by Dudu Pukwana
Bo Masekela by Hugh Masekela
Scullery Department by Kippie Moeketsi
Mra by Christophe Ngukana
Monwabisi by Bheki Mseleku
Part of a whole by Caiphus Semenya

Of the speakers :
Gwen Ansel had some good ideas of tunes which “leave the audience humming” which included but were not limited to
Cape Samba by McCoy Mrubata
Ida by Sydney Mnisi
Lullaby for an African Princess by Marcus Wyatt
Hymn for All by Feya Faku
Uxolo by Zim Ngqawana
Me the Mango Picker by Carlo Mombelli
Dream State by Kyle Shepherd
Nicky Blumenveld added to the list with
Hamba Namulela by Herbie Tsaoli
Hungry on Arrival from the Outernational Meltdown collaboration
Theta by Victor Ntoni
Breathe by Kesivan Naidoo
Lesson number 1 by the Rhythm Elements
Pata 11 by Johnny Windermere …

Johnny Windermere was a person she could find no information about until Gwen said that he was actually Johnny Boshoff a whote musician who sold into the coloured market. His pseudonym was ‘Windermere.’

Lindelwe made note of Todd Matshikiza’s article from the mid 50’s in Drum magazine called “History of SA Jazz.”

Marcus Wyatt made note of a few compositions such as
Weeping by Bright Blue
Seleyane by Victor Ntoni
My friends and I by Carlo Mombelli
Do it by Chris McGregor, even though he said he is partial to all of McGregor’s music

Sam Mathe played songs from the early Gallo collection of African Jazz and marabi classics and made special mention of Reggie Msomi.

This great day of music appreciation also belonged to Tricia Sibbons a board member of the Sophiatown centred situated in the old home of first president AB Xuma. Tricia is from London and served Father Trevor Huddleston in the last ten years of her life. And has continued his extraordinary passion for South African music culture. She has custom built a music hall on the Toby Road premises and together with music director Marcus Wyatt and a small cast of dedicated and enthusiastic staff is creating a home for authentic South African music culture.

Her long time friendship and association with Adam Glasser was given the space and audience to really proliferate. When Jerry Molelekwa founder and curator of the Moses Taiwa Molelekwa Foundation arrived with students from his Tembisa based organisation to join the audience, he was given a warm welcome because only a few days earlier Adam had gone on Morning Live television with a group of students in a harmonica ensemble that was very impressive and orchestrated from scratch in only five full days.

This event was supported by the UK season in SA and has heralded a new day for collaboration between SA and UK that takes us back to the very early days of the early 60’s where it was Adams father Stanley “Spike” Glasser who was the musical director of the tremendous King Kong All African Jazz Opera.

Today Stanley has developed Alzheimer’s so unfortunately cannot recall his glory days. Yet Adam is picking up on it in a big way. Adam Glasser was born in Johannesburg and attended Parktown Boys high. He grew up in the heady days of African funk and funky jazz ensembles such as The Drive and popular compositions by Barney Rachabane et al. He moved to England and largely missed out on the periods of defiance music of the late eighties and then transformation music of the turn of the millennium. This recent four week visit to South Africa, served not only to fill him in as far as possible on all he missed but also to re-inspire him to where his home actually is. We are lucky to have a South African like this. He has not yet returned from exile.

However the latest collaboration between UK and SA is a step in this direction. That big collaboration during the King Kong days was an exile. And this new collaboration spear headed by the likes of Adam and Tricia is a re awakening to inxile or a healing through exile or a recollection and reconciliation through exile, but words aside it is simply exhilarating.


Lukas Ligeti : Griot of innovation

Today I found myself in a Johannesburg paradise. Situated high in the uppermost hills of Northcliff Corner I was inside a modern home renovated to the taste of a modern composer. Angles and circles collided with space in a tastefully sparse presentation of great integrity Overlooking Johannesburg South and North East, the grand vista echoed the fulfillment of a dream for this composer who is born of the world and has travel ed the world and has put down a significant root in Johannesburg.

There is so much to learn from this modern composer that I suspect this is merely the beginning of a long long story which will go up on the website in due course … So I shall keep this update short and too the point. Lukas Ligeti, son of the pioneering classical avant garde composer Gyorgy is presenting an honours dissertation at the Linder Auditorium in less than a fortnight. It is free and not to be missed if you can afford the time.

For the full interview visit

About the concert

The concert, I am really happy it is happening because how often do you find, a whole concert dedicated to one composer and especially in South Africa. It is very rare. So, here I have a concert of music in Joburg, all composed by me . And none of my classical compositions have ever been played in South Africa. I have played the electronic marimba which I compose music for. I have done a number of concerts on that. I have done previous concerts in South Africa. I have done a sound installation last year in Joburg. But, I have never had any of my classical compositions performed, so I am super happy about this situation. Most of the pieces on the program are very new. Two of them I just finished a couple of weeks ago. There is a marimba solo piece, half hour long, called ‘Thinking Songs.’ I actually worked on this thing for ten years. Most of it I did in the last couple of months. Just finished it in June. And there is a chamber orchestra piece called ‘Curtain’ which I also just finished in June. Both of them had their world premier in New York in June. The other pieces are not quite as new. The chamber orchestra piece, “Surroundedness” from 2012, there is one piece called Zambezi which has a very strong influence from Chopi Timbila.
Velancia Banda just died, that is a shame … Mozambique just had two incredible losses over the last six months. Two of the most important people from Mozambique for me, both died in the last six months. There is Velancio and then there is Paulus Gerdes. Paulus Gerdes is originally Dutch but he lived in Mozambique since 1975. He was a mathematician. He was one of the main people in ethno-mathematics. His thing for example was exploring the geometric characteristics of traditional San drawings or basket weaving and things like that and develop a curricula which I think is very important. When you have the kids in the village of Mozambique, they learn basket weaving and then they go to elementary school and they get taught math, in a Portuguese system and all the skills in maths and geometry that they have already learnt through basket weaving don’t get used. The idea of Paulus Gerdes is lets design curricula that actually puts to use these traditional skills that kids learn outside of school, which I think is a great idea. Anyway, the piece is called Zambezi. I was at Valencio’s house in 1998 and I was there with a couple of other people and he called together his Timbila orchestra and he played. It was incredible. Such incredibly interesting complex and beautiful music. I don’t know much of the theoretical makings of it up to now. I would like to learn more about it. I just took away some musical impressions. And then I wrote this piece Zambezi in 1999 for a British group called Icebreaker, a very strange group, an amplified chamber orchestra with panpipes and a lot of electric keyboards and things like that. I tried to use these impressions of hearing Valencio and his Timbila orchestra play, but structurally it didn’t have anything to do with Timbila music. It was just an impression. Now I made a new version of this piece for conventional chamber orchestra. The piece is old, but it is a new orchestration. I was back in Mozambique last year and I was able to see a young Timbila player in Maputo. He was a very nice guy and I played him the recording of this old piece for Icebreaker and I asked him, can you actually hear that this has anything to do with Timbila music. And he said he could totally hear that. That was very nice for me.

This piece will be in the program and then another piece called Castle of Turns, back from 2007. And then two short piano pieces from 2003 and 2006. All of the music is recent. Some of the music is brand new. Most of it is going to be on my PHD thesis, not all of it. Castle of Turns and the two piano pieces are probably too old. The marimba player who is coming to play ‘thinking songs,” I think she is a super human. It is the most difficult piece ever written for piano and she is just a super virtuoso. Her name is Ji Hye Jung. And there will be Kathleen Tagg from Cape Town. She lives in New York. She is really cool. And the Joburg Festival Orchestra people. I don’t know them. Paul Rodgers is putting the ensemble together. He seems like a very nice guy. I have never met him., And Gerben Grooten is the conductor. People say he is the best conductor for new music in the country. I just met him recently he was in New York. He is very dedicated. He has a music school in Pretoria. It seems quite interesting I have to go and see it. He just returned from the States, like today. I am very much looking forward to it. Please get as many people to come, for two reasons, I am never going to have another concert like this in South Africa and secondly the venue is huge.”

Music Record releases

Lukas Ligeti : Mystery System

A fabulous string quartet, a dynamic piece for percussion ensemble, a bizarre miniature for string quartet with drum machine and a classic composition for two marimbas from this interesting young composer of Hungarian descent, who was raised in Vienna, has lived off and on in Africa… repeating repetitive patterns, complex cross rhythms and a sly sense of humour …

Lukas Ligeti : Afrikan Machinary

Lukas Ligeti is a young drummer and composer of deep musical lineage who has developed into one of the most interesting compositional voices working today. For his second Tzadik release, Lukas focuses on electronics. Using the marimba Lumina, a new instrument invented by the legendary pioneer Don Buchla, he fuses electronic, acoustic, traditional, avant garde, European, American and African influences to create a unique post-minimal world of spinning poly-rhythms and hypnotic textures, Beautiful and endlessly listenable.

Lukas Ligeti : Hypercolor

A crazy collaborative jazz-rock unit out of the new generation of Downtown improvisers. Hypercolor is a bizarre trio that blends Beefheart, Sonny Sharrock and 80’s punk with contemporary classical orchestral textures, spastic world music rhythms and noise improvisation. Sonic madness featuring the twisted guitar of Eyal Moaz, the deep toned bass of James Ilgenfritz and the grooving drums of African music aficionado

Other albums include Beta Folly, Imaginary Images, Burkina Electric and Pattern Time

The Story of South African Jazz : LIVE

When I wrote … “Jazz is love, jazz is ‘love thy neighbour.’ Jazz is a unifying language. It brings people together and provides the vocabulary to have a great musical dialogue. South African jazz is a transformative gift… It is uBuntu in action.” … I did not know when I would have the opportunity to SHOW it …

The First Sunday of September … The Johannesburg leg takes place live at The Orbit …

The Story of South African Jazz : LIVE brings the “griots” of the South African jazz tradition together with a strong live audience. The Story of South African Jazz : LIVE brings the recently  published volume one to life, and tells the “REAL STORY” and presents the ‘REAL THING.’ In a scripted, narrated and orchestrated live show, the Story of South African Jazz : LIVE brings focus to our musical heritage whether from Cape Town, Durban, PE or Johannesburg.

The musicians who are the life blood of South African jazz are the ones who ensure the true story of this music and what it takes to be a musician is passed on through the generations …Upliftment is achieved through the support of these great musicians, the promotion of their family initiatives and the educational rewards their knowledge preserves.Our primary focus is the celebration of the marvelous community of friends that have supported the musicians throughout the years. It is the audience that we can never do without. The show will extend the authentic oral language of South African jazz into the future generations.

There are many great names that the Story of South African Jazz is built upon and many of these great names have gone onto build vast and or sustainable careers. The Story of South African Jazz : LIVE presents a platform for those who require the platform to showcase their brilliance. The greatest sacrifice in music is education. In jazz education is oral. And without it there would be no jazz. And hence there is no greater maestro than a griot. A musician who has passed the music on to their children. The griot tradition is still alive in the Story of South African Jazz and it is that we wish to pay the strongest of tribute to.

The First Sunday of May, the show went Live at the Rainbow in Pinetown giving platform to the talented NGIDI griot family of KZN …

Man with the golden voice

The star of The Story of South African Jazz Volume One is the little Maestro from Durban, musical father and man with the golden voice, Elias ‘Sdumo Ngidi. Listen on soundcloud to his live version of Mr Bo Jangles in the helter skelter of the Rainbow tavern. He brought the audience to tears. Elias heads up a great jazz insurgence coming out of Durban. Much like Barney, from his pennywhistle roots he has pioneered three generations of music. His son Philani heads up his quartet when he is not performing with the jazz diva backing vocals. And Elias is also joined by the barber shop quartet known as the Baret Boys lead by Thabani Mahlobo. This is a strong show in and of itself. It is a proverbial jazz train coming out of Durban.

The First Sunday of September the show goes live in Johannesburg at the Orbit, giving platform to the Rachabane griot family, with three generations of fantastic music making…

Octavia Rachabane

Octavia Rachabane

A stunning griot family from Soweto, Johannesburg is the Rachabane family. From the little maestro, Barney who started it all with the pennywhistle all stars of Alexandria, there are now three generations of Rachabane’s. A star of the future, a born songstress is his daughter Octavia.

The show is brought together and shot straight from the heart, by narrator : Thami Skosana

Thami Skosana

Thami Skosana

This griot show  is tied together by a scripted delivery by the author Struan Douglas together with playwrite, actor and voice over artist Thami Skosana. With Thami’s exuberant delivery, sincere knowledge and deep and growling vocals is no more or less the sound of South African jazz. listen on soundcloud

 DATE for the NEXT show … Sunday 06/09/2015 : 5PM – 7PM … Live at The Orbit 


AUTHOR : The Story of SA Jazz is written by Struan Douglas. Struan is the founding director of music portal, online since 01/04/2000. Struan has contributed on South African Jazz for a variety of publications since being a columnist for Big Issue magazine 1999 – 2000, Downbeat magazine 1999 and Sawubona 2003. Some of the magazines like Bejazzed and Directions that he contributed for are no longer in publication. He wrote regularly for Independent newspapers countrywide and the Mail and Guardian. He has provided interviews for radio.

The Griot families of Senegal


Taran Cissoko

Taran Cissoko

Griot Shona : It is in the traditional sound that the Cissoko’s find their music.

Tarang Cissoko is incarnated into the legendary Cissoko griot family of Senegal. He is a born musician. His father had 22 children. With his mother (also a griot), they had 10 children. Tarang is the 8th born. He has 7 brothers and 2 sisters, they are all musicians and as both their parents were griot, these ten are double griots. They are griot SORA!

Tarang plays kora in the traditional griot way, he is a singer and he is a sussed hip hopper too, yet it is for his djembe playing that he is already a master and fast tracked to becoming one of the best players in the world on this instrument.

The griot is like an avatar, the expression of his spirit, the print at the end of a hand. The deep spirituality behind the griot is a consideration of time travel. For when the griot plays his kora he does not play from the mind, but from the heart. Kora is the griot instrument of the region from which he hails, it probably has a spirit of its own (like the mbira’s of Zimbabwe and the timbila’s of Mozambique.)

King of the Djembe : Live at Wits

Kora : Sound of Senegal

For the international audience, they love to hear the kora. The simplicity of the kora, is the music that greets the soul. The sound of the kora is like waterfalls of notes and textures, cascading, falling, rising, always evocative. With 22 strings, eleven on either side of tuning mast, i t stays in the same key. Tarang’s father was a great kora player. He modified his instrument to have 30 strings, 15 either side of the tuning mast. Tarang was never taught to play kora, the playing came naturally to him. Yet as a born musician he is at such an advantage. His physical build, mental strength and dexterity has been nurtured so deeply in this young man that his presence is a privilege.

The kora creates a playful space for the voice to sing out its song. The instrument itself is extraordinary in its handmade magnificence. When the pure delight of the beautiful harmony between vocals and instrument, the musician beams with light and pure delight as he shares his musical message. When the cascading waterfalls of kora playing roll down in passages of sublime repetition; it is like a prayer ancient and infinite. Such a delicate instrument, it somehow sings its own tune. The overtones arise in the interplay of melody and rhythm, as they pass together in cycles of harmony. With thumb the bassline sings and then the fingers of left and right hand play in call and response in their tight expanse of melody making. Sonic wonder, it is so content in itself. This is music. The music of meditation. Tarang is such a disciplined soul. He does not drink, smoke nor party. He is alive to his soul purpose. And what has helped him overcome frustration anger, but the music itself. He points at his kora and says to me, “this is my meditation.”

A humbling and growing experience to be in the presence of the power of this young man. I am certain it has taken him many lifetimes and many masters to find this current incarnation. When he is playing he is loosing himself in the music and making space for the muse to come through. And thus, after any good show, he always says, “it was not me who was playing.” It is his muse, the manifestation of his spirit in action.

Struan Douglas on Morning Live

Give us a brief synopsis of what the Story of SA Jazz is about?

It is a story that is in its first Volume and it is an attempt to describe and document as much of our South African cultural history of jazz and improvised music that we can.

Why is the Story of South African Jazz worth documenting?

It is an amazing story in terms of South Africa’s history. To quote what Zim Ngqawana said, “jazz fought the struggle and won.” In terms of what jazz did in the 1960’s for South Africa it is an amazing story, and then taking jazz into the current generation where we have got over our political problems, I think jazz is fighting the struggle and winning in terms of our own emotional and social transformation and alchemy.

Talk to us about the highlights?

It started for me back in that day in 1999 in Cape Town and the first highlight was getting to know Jim Bailey, the publisher of Drum Magazine. He had a real fascination with street culture. And then of course Winston Mankunku was at large in Cape Town and shining the brightest light so being in eth presence of that music and the dancing good times, that got me hooked on jazz. Winston Mankunku was a masterful player. And then around 2000, the turn of the millennium was a huge explosion with the Cape Town jazz festival and then Moses Molelekwa really changed the way we understood jazz with his innovative playing, mixing in all sorts of music. And Jimmy Dludlu was there attracting great crowds. It was a lot of fun and joy.

Why the decision to put it as interviews?

It is such a vast story that my story is going to be different. I think it is important to tell everybody’s story as it is and for me the story of South African jazz is our story. Everybody has their story of South African jazz, whether it is as a pioneer or as somebody who has enjoyed it. For me it is to create something that will stand the test of time and not be subject to my own impressions. I have my own impressions and that will be told in another story but more to create the space for everybody’s story to be relevant and everybody’s story to be told.

Talk to us about the launch tomorrow?

It is going to be a great event. Firstly it is the Rainbow restaurant that has been supporting live music for 34 years. They launched under the banner of jazz for the struggle and the struggle for jazz back in 1982 playing to audiences of 400 people with great acts. And then the musicians featured are Elias Ngidi who goes right back in to the 60’s. He is a pennywhistle star. He performed with the great Winston Mankunku. He was the trumpet player in his band. He is a guitarist, a singer and he is a father. He will be performing with his musical sons the bass players Philani Ngidi and Lee Ngidi. The other performer is Thabani Mahlobo of Baret Blues, Thabani is an amazing musician, artist story teller and cultural legend who records and works out of Stable Theatre in Durban. And the show will be narrated by playwrite Thami Skosana who as a cultural champion himself. This is a gathering of maestro’s and the audience at the Rainbow are maestro’s themselves. They have all got their own stories of South African jazz to share.

With the support of Concerts SA