After the dust settles — Nduduzo Makhathini and Billy Monama chat about why #SBJOJ Festival matters

03 October 2023 - 09:00
By Constance Gaanakgomo
Nduduzo Makhathini performs at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz concert at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
Image: Veli Nhlapo Nduduzo Makhathini performs at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz concert at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

This past weekend jazz aficionados and other music lovers gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre for the 24th edition of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival.

The festival has over the years created a rich legacy for those who love and breathe jazz.

Legendary pianist Nduduzo Makhathini and guitarist and composer Billy Monama graced the stages on Friday and Saturday night respectively.

The two musos, who were returning to the festival's performance roster, spoke to TshisaLIVE.

As the dust settles on the festival, TshisaLIVE quizzed Billy on what's next. He said consistency was difficult, however as creatives they would like to be consistent. 

Billy was joined on stage by special guests Titi Luzipo and Mimi Mtshali, who paid tribute to legendary jazz guitarist Allen Kwela.

“The difficulty is financial support. If we would have the same financial support that the festival has, for instance tomorrow if I wanna do something and have that financial backing, I don't think consistency would be a problem. After this festival we go and perform at restaurants and the venues are not supported by the structures that are supposed to be subsidising. That is why you are seeing a lot of music venues in Johannesburg shutting down because of financial challenges.

“It's not easy, I put together concerts and it's difficult but what keeps us going is the audience, those who buy the tickets. So going forward I wish that the tribute must not only end here at the Joy of Jazz. We should live it as South Africans because in doing that we would be preserving our heritage not for everyone but for the future generation as well,” he said. 

Nduduzo who performed on the Dinaledi stage with Cuban drummer Francisco Mela, bassist Zwelakhe-Duma, Bell Le Pere and Omagugu Makhathini, welcomed the inclusion of young black musicians through the festival's various programmes and workshops.

“This year the festival incorporated a lot of developmental aspects where they get young, black (which is important) kids in the townships to come and attend workshops about music and context which is very important. Some of these young people I saw them play on Instagram. I think the future ... is to involve young people and take away the stigma of jazz being a practice for old people, I'm getting old myself, I don't wanna be excluded. I do think we have to allow the younger people to be on top of this music — it's theirs.”