It Has To Be Jazz brings jazzheads of the future together

2017-03-19 06:02
 

Johannesburg - Just for a moment, imagine this: A group of jazz musicians who have never met before, gathering in a studio to jam and record together for the very first time.

The act of playing together has been a big part of the culture throughout the ages and It Has To Be Jazz is a facilitator of such, creating an opportunity for unrecorded young black musos from around Southern Africa to meet and record together. Different instruments, an array of styles, varied individual experiences and outlooks – all this adds to a concoction of raw artistry that fuels new sounds.

In three months the project has hosted six sessions, resulting in six albums, each eventually with their own book.

We are live #ithastobejazz

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The idea and aim of It Has To Be Jazz

The idea of the project was sparked by a conversation between Tshepo Maseko, publisher and curator of the project, and his father, about whether or not the youth is ready to take over the legacy of jazz.

This project aims to expand the platform for young jazz cats and sisters to get their music out and preserve the genre for the future. He started with friends and musicians he already knew and then grew the project through word of mouth, attracting struggling young musicians trying to get their first break. They meet at the studio in Brooklyn in Pretoria, and 15 to 30 minutes later they’re jamming, and the jam is being recorded. In fact, every aspect of these sessions is documented.

There's a book too!

And they are not just recorded, but also documented in a book. The first has been published, titled Captured Moments, and it profiles each of the musicians and the ideas behind the album they contributed to. The other albums, already recorded, are called Spontaneous Combustion, The Exchange, The Horn of Africa, Mother Tongue and Playground. You’d expect a cacophony of experimentation, but the work is surprising in its clean, controlled compositions and concepts. The future sounds bright.

This collective is also working closely with youth radio station YFM, which will feature them on their weekly show Live N ReYired throughout the month of April. “The most important thing to us is that our artists blow up,” explains Maseko.

Challenging aspects

The most challenging aspect of this project is the finances. Maseko and his collective are paying for it themselves, which is difficult. As the publisher, he ensures the artists get 100% of the royalties.

The albums are stocked in seven stores throughout Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Asked what it is like to emerge from a session having unearthed new talent and forged artistic connections, Maseko says it feels absolutely rewarding. “I don’t get why these artists are not big yet. To me they are genuinely on the level of internationals.

“An objective is to do more than just establish links with artists from other countries, but rather get these home-grown talents to go on tours overseas.”

It Has To Be Jazz plans to hold regular events (Hotspots, they call them) leading up to International Jazz Day on Sunday, 30 April, where you can catch the different groups formed through these recording sessions, live.

For more information, find It Has To Be Jazz on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

The first album

The first album to drop from the It Has To Be Jazz collective, Spontaneous Combustion, was a milestone. The idea of musicians meeting one another for the first time and then playing can be intimidating and hard to pull off, but they definitely pulled this one off.

This album is soothing to bump. Instrumental and impromptu licks provide a cinematic feel with effortless keys riding the soft-spoken drums on the track Pools of Motion. They include preludes in between some of the songs in which you can vaguely hear the musicians tuning up for the next song and having conversations with each other. The players bring a slightly funkier feel to Headliner. Brooklyn 269 is a standout. They kick it on some old school African jazz reminiscent of the early works of Bra Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim, with the keys making you feel like you’re headed home for the holidays after a long and arduous year.

Spontaneous Combustion is available from Mello Music, High Fidelity and Just CDs in Joburg, and the Music Moods branches in Centurion and at OR Tambo International Airport.

It Has To Be Jazz "Spontaneous Combustion" album cover #ItHasToBeJazz #Youth4Youth

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