Is Jazz for everyone?

10 April 2019 Jazz Theory Latest Most Popular Timeline

By Dinika Naidoo and Vusumzi Nkomo     

Historically, Jazz gigs in South Africa were notorious for their interracial mixing, not only on stage but as popular sight among audiences. The free CTIJF19 concert took place last week, and in itself was another cultural-social phenomenon; the presence of young people flocking to Greenmarket Square.Accessibility of live music performances is fast gaining traction in various regions. The CTIJF hosted the free jazz event for 20 years as a form of appreciation to the citizens of the Mother City. The recent closure of The Orbit in Johannesburg and Great Wizoo in Cape Town is a reflection of the deteriorating audience numbers over the years at jazz venues.

In a recent article written by Asher Gamedze, he describes the state jazz venues in South Africa – including The Orbit – as ‘disappearing’, almost similar to the spaces that black people inhabit.

Although the free concert had been conceptualized as a Jazz event, the selection of artists may not necessarily be ‘jazz-centric’. The likes of Shekhinah are easily identified in the music society as contributors to South African and African pop culture, not Jazz.

The same way Bra Hugh’s Stimela livened up an audience in the 80s, hundreds of onlookers at the free concert jived and hummed in unison as Davido’s Fall echoed through Greenmarket Square. This strongly suggests that jazz is soon becoming de-centered in the entertainment space. Does Jazz continue to inform urban identity amongst the masses in post-Apartheid South Africa? The art of active listening to jazz amongst post ‘94 cool kids are far and few. Purists in this space are no longer able to mobilize a crowd.

What does this event mean to jazz? And what are the possibilities of including a younger generation? What is certain, is the future of Jazz relies not only on free concerts (or booking a famous pop star) but in making it appealing and accessible to various age groups. The free concert was hosted on the 27th of March, at the Greenmarket Square, Cape Town. For more info:



Written By:

Vusumzi Nkomo, Journalist & Blogger

Dinika Naidoo, Journalist & Radio/ Television Producer