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REVIVING THE DRUMBEAT (article first published : 2004-04-13)

South Africa has a rich tradition of jazz criticism, prominent in such early newspapers as Imvo and Umteteli wa Bantu, arguably reaching its apex in the writing of Todd Matshikiza for Drum in the 1950’s.

As part of its commitment to development, The North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town 2004 in collaboration with the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism offered, for the second year, a free seminar in jazz criticism to young journalists and aspiring journalists. The seminar covered three main areas of jazz writing: press conferences; profiling musicians and reviewing live music, and also provides a basic toolkit for writing about music events plus a special focus on jazz photojournalism.

Designed to provide learning that will integrate with journalism studies under South Africašs new National Qualifications Framework, the writing seminar was run by Gwen Ansell, former Executive Director of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism. A freelance media consultant, Gwen Ansell is currently jazz columnist for Business Day and is also the author of Soweto Blues: Jazz and Politics in South Africa, to be published by Continuum (NY) in August 2004. Visiting lecturer was distinguished US jazz journalist Dan Ouelette of Downbeat magazine.

A photojournalism seminar was added to the programme in response to requests from last year's jazz journalism course participants. It focused on the visual discourse of jazz photography. Participants included veteran US photographer Herman Leonard, responsible for some of the world's most enduring jazz images, alongside South Africans George Hallett and Alf Khumalo, who immortalised South African players at home and in exile.




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