Listen In Jazz drummer Maurice Gawronsky, interviewed by Colin Miller, speaks of his friendship with Ginger Baker in London.

 

There were only two groups in London who had a similar type of feel or ideas in music…

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MG: I’ve just read now in the Sunday Times that a very, very famous drummer called Ginger Baker from Cream, has come to settle in Kwazulu-Natal, and he’s bought a farm there. Now the funny thing about Ginger Baker, and I would love to find out how to contact him because there were only two groups in London who had a similar type of feel or ideas in music, and the one group was Morris Goldberg, Mitch Pike and myself, no piano player and the other one was Graham bond on alto, same line-up, Tony Archer on bass and Ginger Baker on drums and we always played opposite each other as oppositions and we were all good friends, and I‘d love to see him because I haven’t seen him for probably 35 years, so I’d really like to find out where he is and I know he’s in Kwazulu-Natal and he’s made, everyone said to me I left England at the wrong time because that’s when everything started to happen and that’s when he made his millions so maybe [laughter] if I would’ve stayed on I would’ve made a few million.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Adams, interviewed by Colin Miller, talks about perceptions of coloured musicians and his experiences around the racial segregation of Jazz Big bands in Cape Town.

 

People never thought we could do things you know?

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CM: The reaction to, black guys being up there and reading music from someone in the audience.

JA: oh yes man, especially I must mention this guys’ name, he’s Dan Ulster. He was the first coloured guy to conduct the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra you know, and um, I had the first coloured Big Band in Cape Town because I felt when I saw all these Big Bands in the black townships, there wasn’t a coloured Big Band. So I got a few lot of guys together and I taught them from scratch, took me almost five years to teach these guys, arrange music, well we ended up with five saxophones, two trumpets and a trombone you know? And one night we went to play for a show in town and this Dan Holster was there. At interval he came and he walked through the band and he looked at these musics man, he says to me “Hey, do you guys read this or is it just here for show?” [laughs] I almost ran off the stage man, he didn’t think we people could do it, you know?

CM: Yeah that’s that misconception.

JA: That is the way we’ve been trampled on all the time, people never thought we could do things you know?

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz singer Zelda Benjamin, interviewed by Colin Miller, talks about gangs and dilapidated buildings in District Six in the early 1960’s.

 

Because there was another side to District Six

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ZB: I hate it when people throw District Six into a pot, and stir it up and think that this is what it was, but in a way for certain areas in the area it had to happen, because you would read in the newspaper, especially during winter, and this doesn’t get said much ne’ about how buildings would fall down on top of people, how the landlords exploited people and we were one of the families that they also exploited, and um daily, well say every year, one or two of those horrible miserable looking flats, especially in the Caledon Street area, we used to call them ‘frikkadel buildings,’ would fall down and kill a couple of families, I mean, nothing gets said about that, and you know this is what sort of angers me because there was another side to District Six. There was the horrible Globe gang and there was these pitched battles with um some of the blacks living in our area, horrible fights, you know these things don’t get said, and um … but, growing up there, um my early childhood days were very happy days cause we were a whole mengelmoes of people and it was nice, it was free it was easy.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz pianist Brian Eggleston, interviewed by Colin Miller, speaks of the impact of Unions that racially segregated musicians.

 

So the white guys formed a union.

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BE: And you know what used to happen those years, the coloured guys used to take over the white guys jobs. So the white guys formed a union, so they formed a union, but that union that they formed, stipulated where you could play and where you couldn’t play, right? So whereas we had a run down Seapoint, that was cut out. The white guys used to get the jobs, the coloured guys couldn’t play in the white establishments.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz saxophonist Robbie Jansen, interviewed by Colin Miller, speaks about the unique ‘Cape Jazz’ sound.

 

… it’s in the air I guess.

Robbie Jansen (photographer unknown)
Robbie Jansen (photographer unknown)

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RJ: The Cape Jazz label, uh I think that’s a sales… a sales pitch I think that’s to do with er just to give it a name, but I also find that there is a Cape flavour of sound, but its just because we all born here [laughs] Capetonians are born in Cape Town, you know you find, er, people from Durban they also adopt the city, they come here and they live here because its nice and then they later on they, they play the same kind of music, its in the air I guess. I mean, I’ve always been asked this question, whenever I’m interviewed I’m asked this question ‘how is Cape music different to other music?’ like I say technically I can’t, I can’t explain that, but it’s there.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz saxophonist Robbie Jansen, interviewed by Colin Miller, speaks about his album ‘Vastrap Island’.

 

Vastetrap means to be trapped, on an island, but it was… the word was misinterpreted

Robbie Jansen (photographer unknown)
Robbie Jansen (photographer unknown)

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RJ: On the album sleeve on ‘Vastrap Island,’ well I, I er, intended, Vastrap Island, meaning to have been trapped on an island, because we became an island of our isolation you know? I mean to be vastetrap means to be trapped, on an island, but it was, mm the word was um misinterpreted cause it was says on the sleeve there that a, um, the Vastrap is a dance made by the indigenous people here. They used to dance that after bartering with the er, you know, the er…

CM: The settlers

RJ: The settlers and all that stuff, I don’t know about that, I mean ok that’s like supposed to be part of the history but that wasn’t intended that way, ja very different to that.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz guitarist Harold Japhta, interviewed by Colin Miller, speaks of his interpretation of Charlie Parker’s music.

 

So my main objective is to let this man’s name live.

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HJ: And what Charlie Parker played, I mean, it was said that it would take ten men to put that stuff together. Ten men. So my er, main objective is to let this mans name live because this was a black man and he died very poor and I just want his music to live cause that’s the kind of music I like to play.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz pianist Vincent Kolbe, interviewed by Colin Miller, speaks about the effect of Apartheid legislation on social and creative life.

 

By 1966 when District Six was declared white-only it was a skeleton.

Vincent Kolbe (photo: John Edwin Mason)

Vincent Kolbe (photo: John Edwin Mason)

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VK: By 1966 when District Six was declared white-only it was a skeleton; it was an emaciated, sort of, neglected place because Apartheid had hit the country since 1948. Everybody was onto Passbooks, and ID books and on to race legislation and no this and no that and Immorality Act and all that shit. So even District Six by 1966 was a deteriorated place. Cape Town, South Africa, Apartheid had fucked everything up in the meantime. So the fact the area was declared, doesn’t mean 1965 the place was paradise. If I can remember my grandmother’s time, if I can remember my mother’s time, if I can remember my youth, you see? Now, you take the effects now of the Group Areas Act where you got to give up your house and live somewhere else, and break up all these social, these community structures, and the neighbourhood structures, Harfield village where people lived, or Woodstock where people lived, or you know, Triangle road Seapoint. How can a Christmas choir survive, how can a soccer club survive, how can a dance band survive, how can the jazz club survive… if I have to go to bloody Manenberg or to Bonteheuvel and you go to Fairways and Coloured Affairs Department and you can’t play soccer with an Indian… you know?

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz pianist Vincent Kolbe, interviewed by Colin Miller, speaks about the interaction between local and international musicians via Cape Towns port.

 

So I don’t know how this can happen in an isolated township surrounded by barbed wire and a moat.

Vincent Kolbe (photo: John Edwin Mason)

Vincent Kolbe (photo: John Edwin Mason)

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VK: I remember in the war years, after the war years the American battleships would come here… there were jazz bands, there were bands on these battleships…and then the news would be that these guys were coming to have a jam session at some place, and we’d go listen to these guys, and they’d play with the local jazz fans. And that was also part of the linkage…

CM: So the big guys that came through the jazz scene in the States were all in the army?

VK: They were in the army, I don’t know how many stars there were but there were people that could play and they would find the locals and make friends with, and exchange records and this happens in the port.

So I don’t know how this can happen in an isolated township that’s surrounded by barbed wire and a moat… and say now you going to have a chance to make real township jazz. Its like saying ‘Pollsmoor Jazz,’ you know, ‘made up by prisoners who have no contact with the world,’ you know, I don’t know how great that is or how much you boast with it and market it as a label, for me a township is a prison, its designed to be a prison. But the port culture, because of the interaction between human beings and the immigrants… remember Cape Town had people in transit, leaving the country, entering the country, not everyone is settled. Right, so there is a lot of activity going on, a lot of bustling, and it never stops.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/

Listen In Jazz pianist, Gilbert Lang interviewed by Colin Miller, speaks about the racial segregation legislation.

 

there was never any funny thing like that, among the musicians I came across

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GL: Although there was a colour bar [legislation separating race groups] in this country, musicians it never applied because we played with each other musically no problems, you know we would get together for the sessions or blows and there was never any funny things like that, among the musicians that I came across you know, there was always, we were great friends all through those years.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: www.uctsholar.uct.ac.za/