Singer/composer Sathima Bea Benjamin grew up in Cape Town watching movies and listening to jazz records from America. Rejecting a life under apartheid, her career took her to New York, where she now lives. In conversation with Gwen Ansell, Ms. Benjamin discusses, with sung and recorded illustrations, the emotions and debates American music stirred among Cape Town's jazz players and singers, and how America responded to the African contribution to jazz and world culture. Ms. Benjamin is accompanied by Onaje Allan Gumbs, piano.
Gwen Ansell discusses the strategies that South African musicians and radio stations used to overcome the apartheid regime's efforts at cultural cleansing by introducing black audiences to jazz, and thus making jazz "the quintessential music of struggle" in that country. Click here for Part II.
South Africa is unusual in that jazz is the center of a lively popular music culture in that country, and not just a niche market. A major part of the South African jazz audience are members of organizations known as stockvels, which are part savings clubs, part music appreciation societies, and part social networking and patronage hubs. Gatherings there typically involve not only listening to jazz records, but improvising dance performances to them.
In this video, saxophonist and composer Jimmy Heath talks with colleague Salim Washington about his new autobiography. In I Walked with Giants (Temple University Press, 2010), Heath creates a "dialogue" with musicians he has known and family members. This discussion expands on Heath's account of his life and career. He offers his thoughts on growing up in the big band era and the advent of bebop; on the experience and legacy of racial segregation; on the jazz tradition and the avant-garde; on the power of the music industry and what constitutes musical integrity and quality.
Saxophonist Roy Nathanson talks about his experiences as a Columbia student during the unrest at the University and the militant aftermath during the late 1960s, his development as an artist in an astonishing variety of forms (including composition, songwriting, poetry, acting and teaching) his work with global stars and with high school students, and his basic need to "tell a story" no matter what artistic language he uses. Click here for Part II.