Mofolo Jazz Nights Claim Wednesdays All To Themselves
By Katlego Mereko
Jazz has a long and rich tradition in South Africa, having produced some of the best artisans in the world. The new millennium would see jazz music suffer an apparent steady decline, but over the last several years we have seen it levitate up into public consciousness through the emergence of gifted young jazz musicians such as Thandi Ntuli, Benjamin Jephta, Mandla Mlangeni, Nduduzo Makhathini, etc. Platforms to expose this talented breed of artists are also depressingly limited, but thanks to Eyethu Lifestyle Centre in Mofolo, Soweto, there is one more space for Jazzheads to convene, enjoy and preserve this rich art form.
Founded by Mandla Tshabalala in 2013, Eyethu Lifestyle Centre has become something of a cultural hub in Soweto and have hosted such immensely popular events such as the annual Abantu Book Festival in December. Mofolo Jazz Nights, however, is a weekly feature recently installed on the centre’s roster. It looks to bring jazz-heads and music lovers together to enjoy the visceral experience of Jazz music on Wednesday evenings.
Steadily, each day of the week in Soweto is being claimed by events and themes; Thursdays are slowly being taken over by the poetry scene at Native Rebels and Soweto Theatre. Weekends are dominated by every pub, club and restaurant in between Social Link in Protea and the Establishment in Diepkloof, while Mogodu Mondays have firmly established their presence on the first day of the week. With Mofolo Jazz Nights, Eyethu Lifestyle centre proposes Wednesdays for Jazz lovers and some already seem to have responded enthusiastically.
Most people will agree that one of the most endearing as well as enduring traditions in Jazz musicians is one of intergenerational engagement. This is profoundly reflected on stage as more and more artists from different generations jam and make music together in provisional and more enduring ensembles.
This was also the case at Eyethu this past Wednesday when the legendary Khaya Mahlangu led a mixture of elder and younger musicians to spellbinding effect. Such set-ups present the rare potential opportunity to host youth and the elderly generations, providing fertile ground for learning between the generations.
If you are a Jazz lover, Wednesday nights in Mofolo are worth the weighty name of Jazz. The centre also serves as a restaurant on the night, so the audience can complement the soothing mellow jams with their favourite dish and beverage – plus the entrance is free. So, Wednesday nights have well and truly become Mofolo Jazz Nights –a call for all Jazz cats and Jazzheads to contribute to this growing space and potentially progressive culture.