Coming soon

Welcome to the first posting on the SisGwenJazz site. Since my regular jazz column at Business Day was ended, I’ve been besieged by former readers asking why it stopped, and what will replace it. So, to answer those questions:

The column stopped because there was a change in editorial policy at the paper – all arts stories are now carried in a supplement on Friday. This has some advantages: we get attractive layout and when jazz stories appear, they tend to be longer than my old 650-word column, and to be accompanied by photographs.

However, it has disadvantages too. Currently, the supplement has limited page-space, so there isn’t space for a story on every genre every week. That could change…

But what won’t change is production and layout schedules at the newspaper which mean it’s much harder to respond instantly to events such as short-notice gigs, deaths, or hot debates. The focus of the Business Day Life supplement (to which I’ll continue to contribute) thus tends to be on long-planned headline events such as tours, awards and festivals. Important occasions, such as the passing of David Masondo and Ornette Coleman didn’t get the musicological attention they deserved; smaller-scale upcoming activities haven’t been adequately flagged. Mea culpa for not getting this blog started sooner.

For all these reasons, we’ve lost the quality of community conversations that the regular jazz column in Business Day built and sustained. That, I think, is a pity. And as the artists who kindly sample me albums and information about gigs must suspect, I now have a mini-Eiffel Tower of unreviewed CDs demanding my attention – most of them so good that fans should be hearing about them.

So, I’ll be trying to post at least once a week, to clear the reviewing backlog and get the conversations re-started. This blog will concentrate on South African music, but give a writer a blank page like this and liberties will be taken, so occasionally you can expect the unexpected. I’m still thinking about and discussing site design, so these grey words will soon(-ish) also look slightly different

Keep sending me the notices of events, and the news of new jazz, and  I’ll do my best to pass them on to the rest of our community. Upcoming this Saturday, 18 July, is a debate about South African Jazz Standards  (What are they? Are we missing some important tunes and composers? And what might the problems be with a canonical approach to the SA jazz curriculum?) at the Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre ( There will also be music both there and at The Orbit from its organiser, harmonica-player Adam Glasser. Next Saturday, 25 July, Marcus Wyatt will launch his ZAR Orchestra recording One Night in the Sun, also at The Orbit. And collectors might be interested to know that currently in the works from various producers are a live DVD of McCoy Mrubata’s International Jazz Day concert at the Market Theatre, a CD re-issue of the landmark 1960s recording, Inhlupeko, and (currently at a very early stage) a contemporary Cape Town jazz re-visit to the compositions of Pacific Express. You heard it first here, and you’ll find out more here, as soon as I know more…


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