New life breathed into Brotherhood of Breath’s musical legacy

The musical legacy of Chris McGregor’s will be explored this weekend during a seminar and live performance at the Guga S’thebeon Saturday and Sunday March 23 and 24.

The public seminar at 3pm on Saturday will be at Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education in Mowbray and will be presented by the University of York music scholar and saxophonist Jonathan Eato and chaired by Dinga Sikwebu, co-director at Tshisimani and jazz activist.

In the seminar, the musicians and Eato will talk about the legacy of Chris McGregor and Brotherhood of Breath’s music and how the band’s repertoire was misinterpreted and misunderstood in Europe.

The Brotherhood of Breath Legacy Project 2019 is bringing to South Africa four musicians who worked with pianist Chris McGregor on his later music.

They will revive the Brotherhood of Breath with an all-star cast of South African musicians and the band will give one exclusive performance at Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre in Langa on Sunday March 24 at 4pm, concentrating on music McGregor developed with the Brotherhood in the 1980s.

The band consisted of McGregor alongside other hugely significant South African jazz musicians in exile in the UK and they were joined by several progressive young UK-based musicians.

Together with the smaller Blue Notes band, also made up of South African exiles, The Brotherhood of Breath is credited with reinvigorating the creative music scene in 1970s Britain as well as being highly influential to a generation of younger jazz musicians who have gone on to become important stylists in their own right.

The music was a celebrated mix of traditional South African material and progressive improvised music and is widely considered to be ground-breaking.

Despite the acclaim that The Brotherhood received in the UK and Europe, and the wider kudos acquired by touring and recording with key American saxophonist Archie Shepp, The Brotherhood’s music has been under-represented in South Africa and is even harder to access.

To address this, later in 2019, the second part of the project will see a commercial release of the recording, in tandem with the development of educational materials for South African educators, to ensure that this important musical heritage is passed on to future generations of South African musicians and audiences.

Meanwhile The Ikapa Jazz Movement will host the jazz after party on Sunday March 31 at Johnson Ngwevela Hall from 3pm. Featured is John Ntshibilikwanna Ensemble and the CTIJF All Star Band.

Admission is R100 and for bookings contact Joe Sidambe at 0604579762 or Timo at 084 9940111.