Story of South african Jazz Documentary Series

South African Jazz : the Documentary

The Story of South African Jazz Documentary Series presents an interpretation of an aspect of South Africa's jazz history, as based on the three volume book series Story of South African Jazz by Struan Douglas.
A story told through Five Distinct Rays of South African Jazz, followinh the distinct SA jazz timeline of 5 rays with access to both ancient and future.
First Ray Golden Era, 1950s:
Musicians Journalists Photographers, Shebeens, migrant labourers and a Pan African movement.
Second Ray Exile & Inxile: 1960s:
After Sharpeville 1960 the jazz scene is split. Exiles to Europe and the US, inxiles keep the fire burning at home.

Third Ray Liberation Era ,1976 – 1986:South African Jazz and the struggle becomes universal and unites with all forms as with Graceland. World Music
Fourth Ray Freedom Generation, 1994 beyond 2000 builds on the past with an eye to the future a new integrated sound.
Fifth Ray Musical Co-Creation, 2020 brings a New South African Jazz and Identity Renaissance, where education, industry and musicology unite to project a 4IR approach into the 5th dimension – co-creation industry.

“Jazz is a unifying language. It brings people together and provides the vocabulary to have a great musical dialogue. SA jazz is a transformative shift to sharing. It is uBuntu in action.” Struan Douglas

1. The Philosophy of Freedom (Philosophical basis of music): South African Jazz is at its core “Just Music” as Robbie Jansen explained and in its broad effect it is “Freedom.” - expresses emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of human experience - communicates a broad range of historical, cultural and socio-economic ideas and issues - unites diverse groups and mobilises community for social equality, healing and human dignity - metaphors of music as life - Intellect and spirit of improvisation and self knowledge.

2. The Mentorship Approach: South African Jazz meets educational AIMS in the syllabus as well as trans-personal development - technical, performance, improvisational, compositional, diverse knowledge and appreciation. - inclusive human rights, environmental and social justice - indigenous knowledge systems - the tools for self-development.

3. South African Jazz is built on Traditional African and pre-jazz influences - Indigenous Music, language influence and expert practitioners - Role of ancestors / spirituality / ceremony. - Choral - Maskanda - Goema - Mbube - isicathamiya.

4. South Africa Jazz is built on a distinct timeline of 5 "rays" of jazz
4.1 Music of the FIRST Ray of SA Jazz: Marabi - Vocal and instrumental SA jazz: contrasts -Bands: Jazz Maniacs, Merry Blackbirds, Manhattan Brothers, Dark City Sisters -Singers: Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe, Thandi Klaasen - Musical Theatre Kwela - Spokes Mashiane, LemmyMabuse, Elias Lerole African Jazz - Jazz Epistles, Todd Matshikiza, Gideon Nxumalo, Philip Malombo Thabane

4.2 Music of the SECOND Ray of SA Jazz: Exiles - Blues Notes, Brotherhood, Union of SA - Avant-garde Jazz a South African etiology Cape Jazz - Abdullah Ibrahim Inxiles -Jazz fusion and the parallel streams of socio-cultural oppression - Winston Mankunku Ngozi.

4.3 Music of the THIRD Ray of SA Jazz: mbaqanga - Graceland: Soul Brothers Fusion - Spirits Rejoice, Sakhile, Robbie Jansen Western Musical Forms - Rock ‘n Pop Afrikaans music - The Voelvry Tour

4.4 Music of the FOURTH Ray of SA Jazz: Modern - FeyaFaku, Moses Molelekwa, Voice, Zim Ngqawana

4.5 Teaching from the FIFTH Ray of SA Jazz: SA Music industry - music industry value chain: idea – publishing – performing - record companies in South Africa - music rights - copyright - registration and regulation - Influence of Technology.


Schools Presentation: What is Jazz to you? Story of South African Jazz Schools Education Presentation is an audio visual and narrative presentation compiled, written and prepared by Struan Douglas for schools presentations in 2020 and beyond. It features Powerpoint presentation, Narration and Playlist. The presentation is unique to the author Struan Douglas and is delivered as a coherent synthesis of the visual, intellectual and audio, augmented with personal anecdotes, stories and improvised explanations of concepts and ideas were necessary. The presentation includes a detailed hand-out including The Archival Approach; Mentorship Approach; South African Jazz timeline; Jazz and Protest; Development of urban jazz; Important name late and living; Inclusive approach; SA Jazz music language, and the meeting of the fourth industrial revolution and the fifth dimension of co-creation.

South African Jazz fits into the International Examination Board Syllabus and Curriculum Assessment Policy. Including topics such as ross-over music, Kwaito, SA protest music, Afrikaans protest song, SA rock, SA Urban music (instrumentation, improvisation, rhythm, melody and harmony, marabi progression, characteristics, leading artists, and the socio-political context); Ingoma ebusuku styles including mbube and isicathamiya, early jazz including marabi, vocal jive jazz, kwela, jazz and mbaqanga. And, a coherent synthesis on music rights and all seven aspects of the music industry. Schools that have participated to date:
KwaZulu Natal: Michaelhouse, St Johns Girls, PMB Girls High and St Annes.

South African Jazz

The Story of SA Jazz presents a number of archives of recorded SA Jazz and overviews of the development of SA Jazz. ILAM (International Library of African Music) where it is made permanently available to education, SABC archives of jazz recordings and IBH archive are all strong foundations.
SA Jazz has Many different people and many different flavours: Xhosa Africa Cape Jazz; South African Jazz; Spirits of Tembisa and Healing Destinations. It is all eternal and infinite. The music is embraced by European countries, America and all sections of Southern Africa.
From Langa in Cape Town to Umkhumbane, Port Elizabeth and Sophiatown , it was a big mix up, and there was a spirit that bonded everyone together, a spirit of self actualisation. And where there was black urban culture, there was jazz. SA jazz was learnt through mentorship because education ranks alongside self knowledge as tools to bring change. The improvisational quality of the music is grasped from the spiritual knowledge of the power of the present moment.

“A society premised on sharing is the essence of jazz. Jazz is love, jazz is ‘love thy neighbour.’ Jazz is a unifying language. It brings people together and provides the vocabulary to have a great musical dialogue. SA jazz is a transformative shift to sharing. It is uBuntu in action.”


“The whole story of South African jazz music is that it has not been written yet. There are so few books about it. They don’t tell the whole story because it is so complex with different influences like in Cape Town the Cape Malay music, tribal music, tribal dance. There are a lot of influences there. It is hard to detect but it should be done now before a lot of information gets lost.” Lars Rasmussen

“Institutionalised education is about money. True education is about love and it is FREE. That’s what I got from Max Roach.” Zim Ngqawana

“Jazz is becoming world music. The way I understand it is “just music”. Hey man it is jazz music we are jusst talking about music. Wherever it comes from it doesn’t really matter, it is jussst music. Wherever it comes from it doesn’t really matter it is jussst music. So when the Americans say jazzz music, it is jussst music.” Robbie Jansen

“I feel African jazz is African jazz, South African jazz is South African jazz because our jazz is slightly different. I can’t explain it in technical terms. When I can hear it, I can know it. Jazz from Ghana or Angola is very different. South African jazz has something of its own. To say Cape jazz is different to Joburg jazz or Durban jazz I would be overstepping my mark. If there is a difference it is in the air.” Robbie Jansen

“You got to give everybody their due because everybody would contribute whether it was language, food or music. This is how I see the development of anything. Of course when you go to the big factory towns where motorcars are made or where there are railway junctions and forestry’s, you have motor town ‘Motown’ music. Philadelphia. And it would have a certain rhythm. And if you go to Port Elizabeth where they also make motorcars, you go to Johannesburg where there are mines. It resonates. This is why it becomes a global kind of culture and it is not about language. It is about sound.” Vince Colbe

"Jazz and freedom go hand in hand, if you are jazz orientated you are free from apartheid you know what I mean. It’s music and it’s all about truth. It’s quality. You have to come on to me to listen to Jazz. I am more like a doctor. You go to a doctor for an injection. In other words we are doctors to the spiritual world. Monk, the late, he said, ‘We got people who are defining this jazz. That is total shit man, freedom and jazz go hand in hand. If you can explain it, beyond that, then you are confusing yourselves. You just have to dig it or don’t dig it, that’s all. That’s the bottom line about jazz. You as a jazz musician, Cecil Taylor said, you are your own academy that’s it what more do you want.” Ezra Ngukana

“Tradition is a very big word. Nobody knows exactly what it means unless they have read the book by two British historians Terrance Ranger and Eric Hopsbawm. The title is ‘The invention of tradition’. It shows how traditions are invented, constructed and reconstructed, not from nothing, from certain realities which have been transmitted from generations to generations. Whenever someone says this is our tradition. It’s very likely to be something very recently reconstructed for various purposes, but contemporary purposes. That’s one type of discourse on purity.

“There is a sort of globalization about African music were African music never existed. There are so many African music’s, it does not make sense at all to label African music. It makes sense commercially, because people will buy African music whether it is from Senegal or Mozambique. They would not recognise the difference and then they will go to African dance sessions and possibly buy the djembe, and then all that to them, is African. They have an idea of Africa, which is at the same time primitive and pure because it stayed and remained primitive. This was already clearly articulated in ‘The Negro Review’ presented in Paris with Josephine Baker. There is a demand for exoticism which has been there in European and American societies. Discourse in terms of purity and authenticity is just one of the latest of that need for exoticism.” Dennis Constant Martin

“I don’t overcome my limitations. I just play with limitations ... I live my life by being more aware of the spiritual. I am attracted by spiritual masters. The teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Krsna of Prophet Mohamed, of all different religions, I am completely open. I am for the union of all religions and also for the union of all the people on earth. Because I feel like, that I think that I attract universal consciousness. So when I am playing I attract people who are inspiring, who want the world to think this way.” Bheki Mseleku

“There are musicians who spiritually are at a very high level. I was concerned what musicians really are. Today you will find musicians are as much in a business as an accountant because you have to sell records. But then there is another point in the music. I went through a couple of books to see how people describe musicians, how people describe music. I haven’t really found a satisfactory answer. I understand it is not in one lifetime that one becomes a musician. It is like becoming a master soul. You are born and you heal people, you can do miraculous things. I believe in reincarnation but not as a continuous thing but you can pass over and you can stay on whatever plane you are but if you want to come back or if you have to come back for whatever reason you can get permission to do that. So I feel that for musicians it is not only in one lifetime that you become a musician. It is going through a couple of lifetimes. I believe this world has been like this before. There have been great cities, everything that is happening now happened before and it is evolving. Even though there are changes in the way people treat each other and look at each other we still face the problems that the older generation and passed generations faced as well. This world may end like the end of the world the first time with the floods and whatever. It can happen again but people will still be people. They can come back. We may be given fresh legs, and fresh water maybe every 500 or whatever years but we will keep on coming back” Moses Molelekwa

Struan Douglas

Struan Douglas is an author and musician