Book Launch: Last Night at the Bassline
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Last Night at the Bassline
DAVID COPLAN AND ÓSCAR GUTIÉRREZ
Cigarette smoke, great jazz and nights you wished would never end … David Coplan and Óscar Gutiérrez paint the scene of the famous live music club in Johannesburg, the Bassline.
In 1994 a new democracy and a new performance space for live jazz opened for business.
This co-occurrence was not planned, but neither was it coincidental. South Africans identified the improvised, interactive foundations of jazz with freedom. After decades of censorship and state repression, audiences were more than ready to be reawakened and performers well primed to emerge from the shadows cast by apartheid. Both listeners and artists were searching for a new jazz of celebration and a simpatico setting in which to create and enjoy it. From the opening night, liberated Johannesburg crowded into the Bassline in the demi-monde of suburban Melville’s 7th Street.
Last Night at the Bassline keeps this renowned music venue alive by telling its story. Music historian Professor David Coplan tells the story of Bassline and the journey of its founders Brad and Paige Holmes, giving musicians and jazz fans something to hold on to even after its closure. With more than fly iconic photographs from Óscar Gutiérrez, this book is more than just a memoir – it is a gritty, smoky, passionate slice of time. Bassline will always be a reminder of what it feels like to live the impossible.
“An up-close and personal narrative of make-or-break creative enterprise, succeeding against seemingly impossible odds, with a fabulous cast of truly impossible characters. Backstage, behind the scenes, and in front of the entranced audience, we experience the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. The story is at once comical and inspiring, harrowing and uplifting, a tale of seasons in hell and nights with angels.”
This book is a tangible piece of the magic to take home and savour.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
David Coplan ha been researching and writing about South African popular music since 1975, and has published several books on the subject, including In Township Tonight! Three Centuries of South African Black City Music and Theatre and In the Time of Cannibals. Currently, he is Emeritus Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Photographer and photojournalist Óscar Gutiérrez has left an indelible mark on the world of photography in Africa. Since arriving in southern Africa in 1994, Óscar has documented an astonishing range of events and issues in politics, arts and culture, religion, and much besides. In the process, he has become possibly the quintessential photojournalist in southern Africa today.