Road to Joy of Jazz 2023 with Nothemba Madumo

The building of the South African jazz space, industry and culture has, up to this point. been a collaborative act. And given more thought, this mirrors the actual nature of the music and genre. Jazz is a collaborative act in it’s own sense from composition to performance. It is the infusing of different building blocks and components in the form of instruments that make the sound of jazz stand apart from all others. This complex is also less a dependency and more consorting across the board – be it the media, artists, venue hosts and so forth.

The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is a collaborator in the building of the local jazz space and culture, likewise, Nothemba Madumo is unquestionably a collaborator in that very space and culture.

Legendary radio show host and overall jazz custodian Nothemba Madumo will be taking on the mellowed Lounge Stage on day one of this year’s Joy of Jazz in a played set alongside percussionist Thomas Dyani, who will also be taking the JoJ stage alongside Herbie Tsoaeli (who will be paying tribute to Thomas’ father) as well as Zoe Modiga. In the build-up to the event, we spoke to her about the growth of her 4EverJazz platform, her preparation for the show, as well as the Joy of Jazz and its overall significance.

Firstly, jazz as a niche genre…

The problem is with the title “niche” genre. Once you say niche you’re planting a seed that jazz is for a select few and that is not true. That narrative, as far as I’m concerned, was created by people who either don’t understand or don’t like jazz. When people don’t understand something, they put it in a box so they don’t have to deal with it. And that’s what happened with jazz, but once you start engaging the genre and its culture, you soon realize that it’s for everyone. That’s why festivals like JoJ and the work I do with 4eva Jazz are important because through them we help eradicate the narrative that jazz is for a niche audience and showcase that jazz culture is rich, diverse, and inclusive. It’s joyful and fun too.

What is the vision for 4eva Jazz?

I created this platform because Jazz culture, music, and lifestyle have sadly been confined to a Sunday when there is a lot about jazz. It’s an industry on its own. The three-hour radio show we do every Sunday isn’t enough to cover everyone and everything. So, I created the platform for jazz lovers to have a place. I believe that artists play such an important role in our lives that the hard work they do to create needs to be financially remunerated adequately.

Standard Bank has returned as title sponsor this year, what is the significance of having such backing [more especially in this industry] beyond just financially?

It is very important because it means a big, reputable corporate entity realizes the importance of the arts.

This not only in supporting jazz artists but also promoting the genre of jazz which has expanded its reach even among the younger generation who are now getting more and more involved with jazz, from creation, performance and events. I’m seeing younger audiences as well which really makes me happy.

The standard of jazz in the country right now [particularly by the younger artists] is so high, that even the older generation is appreciating it. Younger artists are bringing a new interpretation to the South African jazz sound yet still pay tribute to the older generation that influence them.

How important [still] do you think the Joy of Jazz is for the local jazz space?

It’s the annual pilgrimage for jazz lovers and for jazz artists, so it’s very important. I imagine it must be quite the task even for the JoJ team to decide who to put on the lineup each year. The consistency of it is important, not only for jazz people but for anyone who is watching. It says to the world that we are serious about the genre and put in effort to keep the culture alive.

How intentional was the decision to bring on Thomas Dyani as the headline for the stage?

Playing alongside Thomas Dyani, a well-established percussionist who has played with the likes of Shakira. We’ve played together once before, and I’ve asked him to join me again to enhance my set. Since I’m playing last on the night, I want to end it on a high. lively set to get the audience moving.

Are you excited for this year’s edition of the Joy of Jazz?

I am very excited. I am particularly excited for the non-jazz offerings as well because it’s an opportunity to discover something new. It is also an opportunity for those audiences to discover jazz acts and music they may not have known before. It happens to me too, where I go into a venue to peep at what’s happening and I get pulled and before I know it, I’m watching the whole set. It creates an amazing environment!

Festival Dates: 29 and 30 September 2023

Venue:  Sandton International Convention Centre.

Tickets are available at Computicket and Checkers outlets.