Dialogue on Jazz
Written by: Tamara Arden
The platform opens a dialogue up to communicate on several topics surrounding local jazz music. Their aim is to bring a different feel to the conversation. Where do they stand? What do they contribute? Where are they heading? This year will be Joy of Jazz’s 17th year of celebrations.
The colloquium is an opportunity to network with individuals in the industry and facilitate an exchange of ideas surrounding their positioning. Opening the discussion, with a focus on the importance of the industry in South Africa, are the youth and their connection to the jazz culture and music we inhabit. There is talk of opening the arts up to the youth and allowing them to develop their skills within this specific sector instead of falling onto another path. There is encouragement from producers, artists and musicians to step towards the arts, however, where do the youth’s reservations lie? Will they make money from music? Who will represent or manage them? Where will they play? Who will take care of their talent?
Jazz has a stigma attached to it. Many of its listeners keep its truth alive, but others are unsure of where it sits as a listening tool. Is Jazz only found in dingy dark bars or on Sundays? Why is there a negative perception around its image and behaviour?
The genre of jazz was introduced late 19th century and was unaligned with a specific description. Its notes and brass sounds were unpredictable and desirable, but undefined. Nowadays we get so many ranges of jazz music; there is no need to label the sounds to a certain consumer. This is especially so with the running of Joy of Jazz. With busking and pop up performances ready to be presented and programmes introduced to spark enthusiasm and debate, Jazz in South Africa has embraced the varied consumer- the person who enjoys an array of bold, smooth or bluesy tones.
Our culture has its own momentum, but we need to know our consumers. What attracts them to this lifestyle of music? Jazz could be described as a niche market, but it certainly doesn’t behave like one. Johannesburg is finding new outlets to showcase the genre around the city. With an open mind, people will gravitate to its sound, especially so with the cross pollination of sub-genres. In South Africa, we are faced with merging lounge and reversion jazz with house beats to make the appeal more diverse. It’s possible with the attractive nature of our comfort in the music we know, that we can establish a bigger community. It could start with an embrace of house combined with jazz and the listeners would be more open to pure jazz when welcomed in. Original compositions are ideal, but we also need to see the value in original compositions being remixed into other tracks. Musicians and DJS both have the responsibility to produce the sound, but are we willing to be open minded about what they putting out?
Everyone has a story to tell. Are we listening?