IASPM International Conferences - Proceedings, Situating Popular Musics

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Township comets: The impact of South African jazz on the UK scene
Jonathan Eato

Last modified: 2013-01-22


That South African jazz musicians have been heavily influenced by musicians from the United States is both understandable and well understood. Various scholars including Coplan (2007), Ansell (2004), Martin (1999), Ballantine (1993), and Erlman (1991), have traced the early history of this influence to visits by minstrel troupes and jubilee singers in the late nineteenth century. Ballantine (1993) informs us that in the mid twentieth century the influence continued to be important and, on occasion, it was made overt by groups with names such as the African Inkspots and the Manhattan Brothers doing superb imitations of the Inkspots and the Mills Brothers. Indeed artists continued to acknowledge their influences throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century; Chris McGregor's “Sweet As Honey” (MUSEA 1988) was dedicated to Thelonious Monk and featured a typically Monk-esque harmonic sequence, whilst Winston Mankunku Ngozi's admiration for John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter can be found in more than just the title of “Dedication (To Daddy Trane and Brother Shorter)”. (WRC 1968; Sheer Sound 2003). But as more and more South African jazz artists sought refuge from the brutal politics at home they travelled and practiced their music overseas, notably in the United Kingdom (Abrahams, Africa, Bahula, Deppa, Dyani, Feza, Jolobe, Lipere, Matthews, McGregor, Mahlobo, Miller, Moholo-Moholo, Mothle, Mseleku, Pukwana, Ranku, Saul and Williams, amongst others). Drawing on personal interviews and recorded music, this paper presents preliminary findings from research that seeks to identify the various areas in which exiled South African musicians influenced UK musicians and their music.

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