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South Africa

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Cape Town

JJazz fans from around the world appreciate the skill and vibrant talent of South African jazz musicians. It’s no surprise that the country hosts a number of internationally-recognised jazz concerts and festivals throughout the year. South African jazz is in a class of its own, made up of a series of uniquely diverse influences that give life to that distinctive African sound.

South African jazz has a way of getting under your skin and moving you emotionally and physically. Its individual voice tells the story of a century of collaboration and conversation between African musicians and artists from across the globe. It’s dynamic and unexpected, yet familiar in the way that it constantly re-interprets the genre from a South African perspective.

African-American jazz began reaching South Africa in the early 20th century. The influence and popularity of ragtime and dixieland music lead to the development of a uniquely South African musical form called marabi. This mixed American sounds with African cyclical harmonies and a trance-like rhythm. It took the country by storm and, with the onset of swing, the music became increasingly more complex and popular.

Kwela, a musical style that made the pennywhistle an indispensable part of its sound, was followed by the sleek, sophisticated rhythms of mbaqanga, a genre that combines guitar and bass with brass.

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