Olog­i­cal Stud­ies give fresh life to UCT jazz per­for­mance

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD WEEKEND - BEV­ER­LEY BROMMERT

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.

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