South African jazz, 1940s–70s, New Brighton, swing bands, the Soul Jazzmen, protest songs


This article contributes to the substantial body of publications on South African jazz with information on jazz performance and performers in New Brighton, a township adjacent to Port Elizabeth noted for its vibrant jazz scene and outstanding jazz musicians. The article covers several decades from the heyday of swing bands in the 1940s—50s through the 1960s—70s when New Brighton's premier jazz combo, the Soul Jazzmen, were at the height of their artistry. The role of swing bands in New Brighton and surrounding communities as the training ground for members of the Soul Jazzmen and other local musicians of note is discussed, as well as how the Soul Jazzmen in turn were tutors for musicians of the next generation who became widely recognized artists, composers and arrangers. This is followed by a focus on the Soul Jazzmen and compositions by its members that protested against the apartheid regime in the 1960s—70s. The article is informed by historic photographs, newspaper clippings and information from oral history interviews that richly document how jazz was performed in service of the anti-apartheid struggle in New Brighton.

Author Biography

Diane Thram, Dr, Rhodes University, South Africa

PhD Ethnomusicology, Indiana University, is Professor Emerita at Rhodes University where she served as Director of the International Library of African Music (ILAM) and editor of African Music from 2006—2016. Committed to establishing 21st-century archival ethics and re-defining the role of music archives, she has published numerous articles and book chapters on 21st-century archival issues, decolonisation of colonial archives and repatriation of field recording collections, as well as from her research on South African jazz, music and indigenous religion in southern Africa and media control in Zimbabwe.


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Interviews by author
Count Attwell 20 September 2012 New Brighton.
Athol Fugard 13 January 2015 Nieu Bethesda.
Richard Hatana 13 November 2009 New Brighton (with Netsayi Butete).
Shirely Lineo Lebakeng 22 May 2009 New Brighton.
Vuyelwa Qwesha Luzipo 22 May 2009 New Brighton.
Howard Mabendeza 11 September 2012 New Brighton.
Philip Mbambaza 11 September 2012 New Brighton.
Nomzamo Mkuzo 22 May 2009 New Brighton (with Netsayi Butete).
Victor Miza 19 June 2009 New Brighton.
Thami Ngcwangu 4 September 2012 New Brighton.
Big T Ntsele 29 May 2009 New Brighton.
Patrick Pasha 27 August 2009 New Brighton.
K.T. Pemba 28 June 2010 New Brighton.
Dudley Tito 29 May 2009 New Brighton.
Derrek Xujwa 28 August 2012, 31 October 2012 New Brighton.
Lami Zokufa 29 May 2009 New Brighton.
Personal communication
Jonathan Eato 16 September 2018 email.
Patrick Pasha 9 October 2018 phone conversation. 12 October 2018 email.

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How to Cite

Thram, Diane. 2018. “JAZZ IN SERVICE OF THE STRUGGLE: THE NEW BRIGHTON STORY”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 10 (4):67-102. https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v10i4.2234.

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