Jazz music genre sadly being relegated in the City of Kings and Queens
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Speaking to the Daily News after their stunning performance at the official opening of the Ibumba Festival in Bulawayo the Cool Crooners spokesperson Abel Sithole said over the years his group has grown to watch jazz music genre being gradually reduced to near extinction in the showbiz setup.
Wearing a face of an apprehensive man, the 78-year-old Sithole reiterated that it was disgusting to see the jazz industry in its current state especially after having given birth to a variety of prominent jazz groups in the country.
"The truth is the city itself has failed to be an attractive destination for the musicians with special mention to jazz music, it is sad.
"When we began our career way before independence, were fully booked every time, not by outsiders but Bulawayo fans. Our shows used be well attended.
"We really used to have a tight schedule and we would choose the best venue to go and perform but now there is not even a single opportunity for our shows. The choices have been reduced to zero," Sithole said.
"It is now hard for jazz musicians to earn a living because no promoter is willing to engage us for local shows. Jazz is no longer fashionable as before but on the flipside, in Harare the story is different as jazz is just growing like never before.
This is the reason why some of us are flocking out of the town because here there is not much shows and support," he further explained.
Asked whether they had plans of joining the bandwagon to the capital or outside the country Sithole said: "Of course most of our shows are in Harare and outside the country but moving out of Bulawayo is not an option, if we really wanted to we could have done that long back but what I can tell you is we are here to stay when it is time for shows we travel."
Just recently the age-defying trio was supposed to have performed in South Africa but poor communication between the group and the promoter led to the abandonment of the tour.
Over the years the city's jazz music fraternity seems to have been choking under the emergence of other genres of art dance such as house, hip hop, urban grooves and kwaito music popular with the locals.
The Bulugwe lami hit makers came into existence after the two rival jazz groups of the 50s in Southern Rhodesia the Cool Four and the Golden Delicious Rhythm Crooners came together giving birth to the legendary Cool Crooners
Founded by Abel Sithole, Lucky Thodhlana and the late Ben Gumbo the group was always destined for great things and have since graced several arts festivals across the world.
As a replacement to Gumbo, Timothy Mkandla has since been taken on board by the team famous for their striking white suits.
Since then the group has never looked back, not even the death of fellow members Eric Juba and Gumbo upset their determination. Let alone the political instability that rocked the country from then up to independence, the group kept their perpetual love and hopes in the showbiz industry alive.
It was during the 50s that southern Africa was bustling with creativity in the arts and it was then that township jazz was created and its name Mbaqanga was coined. Its music tipped its hat to jazz and its tone and swing, but mixed the Western music up with African rhythms and language — Ndebele, Zulu and KiSwahili in the case of the Crooners.
Despite having stayed for decades in the showbiz fraternity the Crooners have only managed to post three albums that is Blue Sky in 2001, followed by Bulugwe lami in 2002 and lastly Isatilo. Those who have witnessed the Jazz maestros' live on stage will concur that their music will always leave jazz lovers calling for more.
Their music is well polished and old-time. The flawless vocals coupled with a lively brass section have the feel of music halls, synched waists and men in suits.
But the language, rhythm, lilting electric guitar and laid back cool is purely African and one can simply love every moment of it.
Source: Daily News
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