Research seminar: ‘Serve with Curry and Rice: the Ghoemaisation of Jazz at the Cape.’

Wednesday 16 November 2016, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Jonathan Eato (University of York)

Since its founding, Cape Town has been a regionally dominant site for arrivals by sea. Many of these were profoundly troublesome, but, in the pre-digital era especially, they also had a near monopoly on transnational musical flows to the Cape.

Local communities have long absorbed, mixed and – most interestingly – reconfigured these varied musical imports. The activities of the Vereenigde Oost- Indische Compagnie brought the combination of Indonesian and Dutch musics that transmuted into Cape Malay Choir Nederlandsliedjies. And 19thC editions of the Cape Times evidence musical entertainments amongst English-speaking settler communities that combined western art music, popular song and vaudeville acts in an arrangement adopted and adapted by the Concert and Dance culture of early South African jazz.

Various religious and military musics of European imperial forces have also been co-opted for local ends, as have Glee singing and minstrelsy, but it is a uniquely Capetonian articulation of jazz that is the focus here. Paying particular attention to one of Cape Town’s pre-eminent musical markers, the ghoema beat, this paper will explore how that marker has been adapted from the moppies of the Kaapse Klopse and Cape Malay Choirs to shape the quintessential Cape Town sound, Cape Jazz.

Jonathan Eato is a composer and saxophone player with interests in a wide range of contemporary musics, jazz, improvisation, South African popular music, interdisciplinary performance, music and postcoloniality, and music for dance. Most recently he has been working with interdisciplinary performance environments as composer and sound designer on various projects for Hannah Bruce and Company.

From 2007-2008 Jonathan was a visiting research fellow at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and in 2010 he formed JISA Records with South African jazz legend Tete Mbambisa. Jonathan writes on jazz music in South Africa and is co-applicant with Professor Stephanus Muller on the British Academy Newton Advanced Fellowship project South African Jazz Cultures and the Archive (2015-17). 


Location: Sally Baldwin D Block - I/D/003