Ological Studies give fresh life to UCT jazz performance
OLOGY started out as a joke between two first-year students in 2008 has evolved into a way of helping new students at UCT’s College of Music.
Pianist Sibusiso Dlamini and his friend Phumlani Mtiti, who studies alto saxophone, put their heads together to create Ological Studies to assist fledgling musicians who grapple with the challenges of an unfamiliar academic approach to jazz performance.
Dlamini, who left Soweto to come and study at UCT, is in his second year of Jazz Performance.
“I think Cape Town is a good city in which to study – but Joburg is where the money is, so ultimately I’ ll be going back there, though not for a while. I’ll have to do three years of diploma, and possibly a postgraduate degree as well.”
Dlamini came from a musical family. “My father conducted a church choir and my mother was a vocalist. Actually, I also sing a bit myself.”
He refers laughingly to his collaborator and friend Mtiti as “a foreigner from the Eastern Cape” – which Mtiti takes in good part. “That’s right, I’m from Port Elizabeth, and no one in my family is musical at all, although they all enjoy music. Like Sibusiso, I came to Cape Town in 2008, and we’re doing the same course at the college. And, like him, I think Joburg is the place to go to earn a decent living as a professional musician. Cape Town is a wonderful city, mind you – it adds to your growth as a person.”
He explains the strange name, Ological. “Sibusiso coined the name last year, and I was terrified until he explained it was a ‘fun’ name for a concept of how to find your own identity as a musician – we all struggle with that. There are so many ‘ologies’ at university – ge-ology, sociology, the-ology. phil-ology – so that’s how the name came to be.”
Dlamini says: “Few students, even at postgraduate level, have the courage to break out of the mould, so we try to give them their own voice with our particular take on jazz performance. Ology is the study of study, it’s completely open-ended, and it tries to bridge the gap between the intellectual and the popular. It’s resulted in us forging a new style that’s easy on the ear and very accessible, and we’ve begun to make our mark here.
“It started in June when we performed at Artscape in the Youth Jazz Festival… After the show we were told ‘the future of South African jazz is in good hands as long as you’re around!’ We were delighted, and since then we’ve played at the Baxter Theatre and been featured by media broadcasters.
“Next weekend we’re making a CD for release in January 2010, to be followed by a video and a documentary.”
Dlamini’s enthusiasm is palpable, and Mtiti nods his endorsement: “We reflect the young South African musicians of 2009, with our need for self-expression and a personal blend of jazz, Gospel, African music, Funk and Rhythm and Blues. Our goal? To tour South Africa, then try our luck internationally.”
LOGICAL PROGRESSION: Sibusiso, on piano, and Phumlani, on sax, aim to tour South Africa before trying their luck on the international stage.