Monday 22 April 2013

Jazz in District Six: The Smart Street Sessions

District Six in Cape Town was once home to a number of the jazz musicians that Ian Bruce Huntley recorded and photographed – until this mixed and vibrant community of 60,000 people was bull-dozed by the apartheid regime.

While the community and buildings of District Six were destroyed, there have been important efforts by the District Six Museum and many others to preserve and honour the memory. In the coming months Electric Jive will be sharing two or three posts of Ian’s District Six photos and recordings as a small contribution to this important heritage.
District Six: Pic Ian Bruce Huntley
District Six was established in 1867 as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans and labourers. In 1966 the apartheid government declared the area “white” leading to the forcible removal of all its people and the destruction by bull-dozers of their homes, businesses, and places of worship.

It is with great respect and joy that Electric Jive is able to share Ian Huntley’s images and music recorded in District Six.  Just click on any of the images to get an enlarged view of all the pics in this post.Today’s musical offering is of some private sessions that took place in the Smart Street home of Basil and Cliffie Moses. In addition to the Moses brothers, Chris, Philly and Jackie Schilder feature, along with Roy Petersen, Monty Weber and Billie Dollie.

Monty Weber and Basil Moses are perhaps most widely known, in the context of South Africa’s jazz history, as having recorded prolifically – including performing on seven or eight of Abdullah Ibrahim's 1970s recordings. Both artists also feature on Sathima Bea Benjamin’s “African Songbird”, due for re-release by Matsuli next month. Monty Weber’s “District Six” album can be found here. The 1959 musical "Shebeen", set in District Six can be found here.
Basil and Cliffie Moses (1974)
Pic: Ian Bruce Huntley
You can read or listen to Colin Miller’s 1998 life history interview of Monty Weber here. Colin did a great series of interviews in the late 1990s with amongst others, Cliffie Moses, Richard Schilder, Maurice Gawronsky, Cups and Saucers Nkanuka. These recordings and documents can be accessed through the Centre for Popular Memory at the University of Cape Town.
Guitarist Cliffie Moses, three years older than brother Basil, was another professional musician who also had a day job. Cliffie tells Colin Miller of his time: “I want to say in the 10 years that we played at the Three Cellars, ... Don’t forget it was six nights a week we played. Working during the day, playing at night.” Cliffie relates that he also produced an album of “jazz from District Six”. “.. this particular song came to mind and I saw a complete picture of me walking Hanover Street and sitting on the Seven Steps. It was then that I composed this tune called "Seven Step Lament.”
Seven Steps, District Six
Pic: Ian Bruce Huntley
In 1970 Basil, Cliffie, Roy Petersen and Monty Weber were all hired to tour the country as core of Percy Sledge’s backing band for a seventeen-week sell-out tour of South and southern Africa. The tour opened to a three-week sell-out season at the 1,300-seat Luxurama Theatre in Cape Town. Percy Sledge described it as the “greatest tour of my career”.
Drummer Billie Dollie was raised by Imam Dollie. Roy Petersen, like many other talents, cut his teeth in touring with the Golden City Dixies.
According to Cliffie Moses, Chris Schilder (now Ebrahim Kalil Shihab) spent some time living at the Smart Street House, playing the piano there non-stop.

The sessions recorded by Ian were private sessions played in the Moses' home. They are split into two separate downloads, the first comprising mostly quality renditions of jazz standards. Ian recalls the second session with Roy Petersen at the piano as an impromptu jam during which the compositions "Smart Street" and "Requiem for Reg" emerged.
The Smart Street Sessions
Recorded by Ian Huntley at Basil and Cliffie Moses’double-story house in Smart Street, District Six - 1964
Chris Schilder (piano), Basil Moses (bass), Roy Petersen (Drums) Clifford Moses (guitar) 
1.     Veet Blues (9:19)
2.     Straight No Chaser (8:42)
Eckhard Street, District Six
Pic Ian Bruce Huntley
Chris Schilder, Basil Moses, Monty Weber
3.     Sad John (8:26)
4.     It Aint Necessarily So (14:26)
Chris Schilder, Philly Schilder, Jackie Schilder
5.     Look Up (7:59)
Rapidshare here
Mediafire here
Roy Petersen (piano), Billy Dollie (drums) Basil Moses (bass)
1. Smart Street
Roy Petersen (piano), Monty Weber (drums) Basil Moses (bass)
1. Smart Street (2)
2. Requiem for Reg
Rapidshare here
Mediafire here


  1. Thanks very much for the latest instalment.

  2. this is officially my favorite blog ever, now.

  3. Thanks good people for stopping by and leaving comments of appreciation - it makes the pleasure of sharing even greater

  4. I have known Ian since I arrived back from London at the end of 1987 and have always admired his dedication to jazz and its history in South Africa. Thank you for facilitating the publication of his life's work! I had feared that this invaluable archive would vanish with Ian when he departs.


Electric Jive is currently receiving a deluge of spam. Apologies for the additional word verification requirement.