Whether it’s the liveliness of the 1920’s Swing hits, the sexiness of sultry Blues tunes or the beat of Afro-jazz that quickens your pulse, one thing is for sure- if you love jazz, Cape Town is one of your best bets.
In case you were interested, Capetownian jazz originated in the late 1800’s during South Africa’s contact with African-American musicians of New Orleans. The local jazz scene inadvertently continued to draw its influences from both its own tumultuous political climate, as well as from the various dominant (primarily American) jazz genres that spanned over the twentieth century. Such influences ranged from Ragtime-infused liberation songs (which were prominent during the abolition of slavery), to modern-day jazz sounds such as Acid Jazz, Nu-Jazz and Jazzcore- musical adaptations of jazz with deep electric undertones.
Indeed, the jazz scene in Cape Town has become so energetic that the city successfully held its 11th annual International Jazz Festival in April this year, (which was showcased at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and featured renowned local artists such as George Benson and Selaelo Selota). The festival boasted a remarkable line-up of forty-two jazz groups, with no less than five stages for artists to showcase their talents and bring out the collective rhythm of festival visitors.
Another local initiative in support of South African jazz talent is that of the Rainbow Room. Taking the Mother City by storm, the Rainbow Room’s basement art-centre is a haven at which undiscovered jazz musicians can collectively learn, share and inspire each other, whilst being offered exposure at live gigs on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Indeed, the venue’s vision to showcase the creativity and enterprising spirit of the Rainbow Nation, certainly suggests that it’s a project worthy of support.
Apart from larger-scale jazz projects such as the International Jazz Festival and the Rainbow Room, a list of the Cape’s most noteworthy jazz joints cannot be deemed complete without mention of the following hot-spots: Swingers in Ottery (which hosts quintessential Capetownian jazz every Monday night- entrance is free); Asoka on Kloof Street (offering funky, upbeat jazz sessions on Tuesdays evenings); and The Green Dolphin at the V&A Waterfront- a musical-culinary experience of the city’s biggest jazz cats, with occasional performances by international guest.
With so much on offer, why not make a day of the Cape Town jazz-experience? Take the train, road-trip, car-pool, hitch-hike or walk- but just make sure that you get to take in the city’s generous jazz talent, so that you, too, can lose yourself in the resounding rhythm that is the sound of South African jazz in Cape Town.