Friday 26 March 2010

Cape Jazz: Putting music to paper

The Cape Jazz Collection is a new publication from containing 39 lead sheets with melody and chords, of compositions connected to Cape Town, including works by Robbie Jansen, Jonathan Butler, Bheki Mseleku, Chris McGregor, Basil Coetzee, Winston 'Mankunku' Ngozi, Errol Dyers, Mark Fransman and Hilton Schilder.

Sailors on ships that docked at Cape Town harbour were the first to bring jazz and Latin music to the city. They brought vinyl records, and found a local audience eager for this new music from across the Atlantic. Local musicians quickly learnt the techniques of jazz improvisation and started incorporating these into local musical styles. Thus began a new genre of music, today known as Cape Jazz. The Cape Jazz Collection celebrates this music of jazz musicians from the southern-most tip of Africa.

The Collection was compiled by Colin Miller who studied jazz at the College of Music, University of Cape Town. He has been extensively involved in the research and documentation of life histories of jazz musicians in Cape Town. He is Deputy Head of Pro Helvetia in Cape Town, where he is responsible for music and literature projects for the Swiss Arts Council. Colin was assisted on this project by musicians such as George Werner, Jannie Hanepoot van Tonder, Jasper Cook and Kesivan Naidoo. Every effort has been made to remain authentic to the cited recordings, while presenting the material in a format easy to use by students and enthusiasts.

The Cape Jazz collection is already in use at universities and schools in South Africa, Europe, UK and the USA. is working on developing a library of South African jazz charts, including 'real book' style publications like the Cape Jazz Collection, and full professional quality Big Band scores (& parts) of music of the great South African composers. This includes tunes by Zakes Nkosi (who was the main inspiration for the African Jazz Pioneers), Dollar Brand, Errol Dyers, etc. All big band scores have been performed and some recorded, where possible these recordings are made available for download.

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