Did you know?
The National Youth Jazz Festival has hosted musicians from more than 16 countries.
Historically rooted in the heart of the country’s townships, jazz has given a voice to ordinary South Africans. Jazz musicians have found inspiration in their everyday struggles and triumphs, as well as their musical traditions.
Jazz in South Africa continues to play an important role in communities around the country, although talent doesn’t always have a formal environment in which to develop. Facilities dedicated to musical training are often under-resourced and money for tuition can be scarce.
There are, however, a number of initiatives that work to address this lack. Working together, established artists are able to give something back through workshops and events designed to give young musicians a platform to showcase their work. Here they can also learn from their peers, as well as from seasoned local and international musicians.
Among the best-known initiatives is the annual Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival. It's the most significant youth development initiative for jazz in South Africa. The top young musicians from this event form the Standard Bank National Youth Band, which plays at festivals around the country.
Partnerships between established musical ensembles and students from musical academies give graduates a musical home. An example is the partnership between the Gauteng Jazz Orchestra and students from the Music Academy of Gauteng.
Jazz festivals continue the tradition of giving back. Each year, leading jazz musicians performing at festivals around the county run free workshops teaching youngsters and musicians more about their craft.
These highly accomplished musicians play an invaluable role by sharing knowledge and inspiration, improving the standard of music for all. They also help to place South African jazz in an international context. Many of today’s rising young stars have been through these workshops, emerging as better and more confident musicians.
In addition to the free workshops, jazz festivals such as the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival offer free concerts by a diverse range of established jazz musicians and newcomers wanting to give something back.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Best time to visit
South Africa's major jazz events all have free events linked to jazz development: Joy of Jazz festival in Johannesburg in August, Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March, National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June, annual Arts Alive festival in September.
What will it cost
Many of the jazz development initiatives linked to jazz festivals, including workshops and some concerts, are free.
The annual Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival is a highlight on the jazz development calendar. It takes place in Grahamstown as part of the annual Standard Bank National Arts Festival.