RIP Don Albert, 1931-2019

downloadSad news over the Easter weekend of the death of baritone saxophonist and jazz critic Don Albert on Saturday, aged 88, after a short illness. Albert wrote and broadcast about jazz for a range of South African and international media, from the Star Tonight and the SABC to Downbeat and Jazz Journal International. Albert’s own Facebook page recounts his role from 1981 in campaigning to reverse apartheid legislation barring integrated bands in officially ‘white’ music venues, a cause that was close to his heart. As a writer (and, when the occasion required, a perceptive music photographer too), he was one of the few before apartheid ended who consistently researched and wrote about the jazz of South Africa’s communities of colour, ensuring it was known and taken seriously wherever he had a platform. He made friends in all South Africa’s music communities; established a place for inclusive, informed jazz criticism in the apartheid-era ‘white’ media (it had existed in the historically Black press for rather longer), and found keen readers everywhere. When South Africa hosts International Jazz Day in 2020, it’s to be hoped that some way to make his memory part of that event can be found. May he rest in peace.

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