Jazz Around the World: South Africa

Written by on October 2, 2014
Johannesburg-based ensemble Uhadi (Photo: Ts'eliso Monaheng)

Johannesburg-based ensemble Uhadi (Photo: Ts’eliso Monaheng)

In 2014, South Africa celebrated 20 years of Democracy, and as a part of that, Jazz at Lincoln Center invited the Johannesburg-based ensemble Uhadi to perform at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

While they were in town, they also recorded some educational videos with us covering some of the uniquely South African forms of Jazz.

These videos help to illustrate the ability of Jazz to work with other styles of the world, influence them, and be influenced in turn by them. In fact, as Phil Schaap’s Origins of Jazz video series points out, this fusing of cultures and styles sparked the very birth of Jazz itself.

While South African jazz takes many forms, two styles Uhadi demonstrated were mbaqanga, and also the ghoema. Both have unique histories, unique performance practices, and are fascinating mergers of Jazz into local styles.

The ghoema: