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UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), is proud to announce its inaugural UJ Weekend of Jazz, in celebration of Africa month, which is set to take place from 25–27 May 2018 at the University of Johannesburg.
Much of what is recognised as South African jazz and dance music originated in the back streets of Sophiatown. Its roots – both here and abroad – reside in revolution, in everyday people trying to make sense of their worlds. The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has been the site of much progressive negotiation around new ways of thinking and doing things, with campuses literally down the road from those spaces of historical and creative significance. So it is fitting that in this time of reimagining and reshaping our country, an institution, which is itself a place of learning and revolution, should bring to life a celebration of new engagements with the jazz tradition.
In the youthful and high-paced urban environment of the University campus, there is a particularly intellectual and artistic hunger for new means of engaging with ‘old’ ideas, and this manifests in all types of creative expression. Not only is the focus on fashion and design, around new ways of repurposing pieces from the past, but so too do we turn the spotlight on music, which is particularly relevant in the context of a genre traditionally associated with experimentation and pushing boundaries.
In line with UJ Arts & Culture’s strategic focus on creating sites for different engagement opportunities, and offering experiences with the potential to create positive change, there is the recognition that jazz as a genre is also transforming.
Urban jazz is an emerging sub-genre, borne of combining traditional elements of the form with other genres of music, in search of the ‘grey areas’, of new and accessible forms. Often associated with physical expression in the form of dancing, those in the know will recognise the inclusion of some of the timing and flavours of drum ‘n’ bass, and layering of hard funk and ‘chilled vibes’. But mostly, this is music designed to be enjoyed by the masses!
As such – far from a stuffy experience of formal jazz performances – this three-day programme will offer an experiential feast of sound and fun, with ticket prices aimed at making the event accessible, to encourage audiences to experience different aspects of this important and historical musical form.
The event will be curated by musical talent showcase Jozi Unsigned, and – testament to their unwavering commitment in support of the growth of live music in Johannesburg – the high-quality offering will vary from somewhat more ‘conventional’ jazz concerts, ranging from bands bucking the old rules and experimenting with new ways of making music. A specially-selected student jazz band will have the opportunity to take to the stage alongside some of the country’s best; ‘aficionados’ of the future will have the chance to learn a thing (or three) from classes with some jazz masters. Audience members interested in an immersive experience will have those opportunities too.
The UJ Weekend of Jazz will take place at the Art Centre on the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Park campus in Johannesburg from 25–27 May 2018. Both day passes and weekend passes will be available, with student concessions for each – ticket prices start at R120. The full programme will be released on www.uj.ac.za/arts.