No Easy Walk

A six-part series telling the story of South African jazz over the last fifty years.

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
01American Accents, Shebeen Sounds1998011719980124

Born in the townships and mixing African forms and American influences, South African jazz developed its own distinctive voice in the 1940s and 50s.

John Fordham investigates its early roots, its flowering as a genuinely popular music, and the runaway success of the jazz opera `King Kong' by Todd Matshikiza.

The show ended up in the West End of London and on Broadway, despite increasing political oppression back home.

With comments from pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and writer Anthony Sampson.

02Epistles With A Message1998012419980131

John Fordham looks at how modern jazz captured the hearts of a new generation of musicians in the 1950s, including the Jazz Epistles, which featured trumpeter Hugh Masekela, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (then known as Dollar Brand) and the often overlooked but acclaimed saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi.

Despite the reluctance of the white-dominated music industry, the Epistles recorded a landmark album.

03Blue Notes1998013119980207

Pianist, composer and arranger Chris McGregor was the son of white missionaries and grew up in the Transkei, a tribal homeland.

He wanted to play jazz with the finest musicians he could find, regardless of colour and the increasing problems posed by the apartheid laws.

John Fordham investigates how McGregor and his band the Blue Notes found local fame and acclaim before quitting South Africa in 1964 in search of European success.

04Very Urgent1998020719980214

When South African musicians in exile - such as Chris McGregor, Dudu Pukwana, Louis Moholo and Mongezi Feza - arrived in Britain in the mid-1960s, their impact on the British jazz scene was profound and long-lasting.

John Fordham charts the rise of bands such as the Brotherhood of Breath, their successes and their struggles to survive in a strange land.

05Water From An Ancient Well1998021419980221

Cape Town pianist Abdullah Ibrahim looks back on a career which saw him move from playing strict-tempo for ballroom dancing to his current status as an international star.

He also reflects on the opportunities and frustrations he encounters in South Africa today.

/ A six-part series telling the story of South African Jazz over the last fifty years.

5: `Water from an Ancient Well'.

Cape Town pianist Abdullah Ibrahim looks back on a career that saw him move from playing strict-tempo for ballroom dancing to his current status as an international star.

06 LASTGiant Steps To Freedom1998022119980228

Making records in South Africa is what I always wanted to do,' says trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who returned there after thirty years in exile.

The days of jazz as a rallying cry for liberation may be over, but how easy is it to shake off the legacy of apartheid? John Fordham investigates whether democratic South Africa offers a new dawn for jazz musicians.