A conversation with our Jazz Masters

17 January 2017 Articles Latest Lifestyle Most Popular

By Nomali Cele

Kaya FM loves jazz. The existence of Jazzuary is a testament to the reverence we have for the music and the arts it surrounds. We spoke to Brenda Sisane, host of The Art of Sunday, and Greg Maloka, MD of Kaya FM about jazz.

During the conversation, Sisane says, “I think it becomes snobby because jazz can be a source of pride. It’s virtuosity, it’s composition, it’s style…” She trails off, beginning to speak about fans studying jazz and locating themselves in it. We had more questions and both Sisane and Maloka had wisdom in spades.

Where Brenda Sisane’s relationship with jazz began

My jazz experience started at home. It’s a typical South African story where your dad is into the music. For me, it was both my dad and my mother. She married twice and on both occasions, it was to people who are very passionate about jazz. When they tell me stories about my childhood, I used to see all the music in the house. Apparently, I used to tell visitors that my parents’ collection was mine as a two, or three-year-old. If you are walking to my father’s house, all you had to do is follow the music. It didn’t matter what day of the week it was, he would put the speaker outside. It wasn’t a Sunday thing when you polish the shoes. 

Why Jazzuary matters

Brenda Sisane: 

Campaigns such as Jazzuary are effective because they remind people of the art they love. They also recruit new lovers because there’s a focus on the music. They give us a chance to reevaluate the potential that lies in the music. Sometimes the potential has nothing to do with the commercial side of it, it’s just to be able to locate ourselves in the big world called music and get a sense of being and identifying in the big world called music

Greg Maloka:

The masterclass is Kaya’s way of providing a platform where all commentators around the art form of jazz can do just that, comment. Whether by song or opinion, any sort of art. We looked at what would be the best way of packaging Jazzuary and looked at the various forms of art that come with jazz. Whether it’s fine arts, dance, music itself, commentary, food, all these elements feed into what we’ve termed the masterclass.

Jazzuary 2017 is like a volume two. We’ve always had Jazzuary but we wanted to be more serious about how we package it. This year’s theme is all the live sessions we’ve had at Kaya that are very exclusive to Kaya. It’s the music you know, music you’ve bought, listened to and all the artists that have performed on our stage.

The ultimate jazz experience per Brenda Sisane

Beyond the festivals, it’s the venues that bring out jazz. They are frequented not just by jazz lovers chasing the music but the artists themselves. For me, the ultimate experience is to be in a room where all of you are enjoying the music and can engage at a social level about the music. The Orbit, The Chairman, Nikki’s are favourites.

READ: 5 South African Jazz Venues to Try

Favourite Era within jazz

Brenda Sisane: 

I was between the ages of 10 and 13 when I used to dress up in December and go to different houses to dance for sweets and coins and deserts. They would play their music and we would be dancing to people like Victor Ndlazilwana, Philip Tabane and Abdullah Ibrahim. Nobody told us it was jazz, it was just music. I would like to revisit the joy of those times and the fun in that music.

I would revisit the past five years. I came back to radio and jazz came alive in me again. I started going out much more to seek out jazz and I found that it’s still there and abundant and fresh and reinvigorating the industry.

On jazz that lives forever

Brenda Sisane:

What makes a jazz classic is a song that resounds with a lot of followers, that stands the test of time and is evergreen and remains beautiful and exciting to listen to. You can have a classic in a brand-new song. From the way it’s composed and arranged, you can tell it will live long.

Moloka says first there was jazz

All forms of music, we believe, start from jazz. The influence of music that is Kaya is soul and jazz. We see jazz that is a form of conversation that can help people cross the street and see what’s on the other side. It’s music of liberation. It facilitated a conversation of raising children, a peaceful society and dreams and aspirations.

READ: A Bite of Niki’s Oasis

The role of jazz

Brenda Sisane:

Arts, music, and culture are an important place to look if we want to look to the future. You find out who people are [nations too] by looking at how they depict themselves. I think, in terms of the future, it’s when people reflect where they’ve been that they can change or grow.

In jazz, you find those elements and influences, the Mbhaqanga guitar it’s what makes someone say they are listening to jazz and in South Africa has a different sound. We need to have a discussion one day so we can all understand that jazz is African music. In our love for jazz, we tend to think that we should not talk about other music but jazz is part of a big banquet of music.

Greg Maloka:

Our music department is on top of creating a sound second to none. Some of the music is not typical jazz. What we have done well is saying that there is jazz in all of us and everything we do


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