One of Cape Town’s musical treasures is Cape jazz, a local derivative of the jazz genre with distinctive African flavours. Its greatest exponent is the internationally acclaimed Abdullah Ibrahim. Born and raised in District Six, Ibrahim is a supremely gifted pianist and composer, who has for decades produced an hypnotic fusion of African, American and Cape idioms. Some of his renowned recordings include Mannenberg and African Marketplace, combining the fluttering rhythms of ghoema – traditional Cape carnival music – with the call-and-answer structure of African gospel. Other Cape Jazz legends include a triumvirate of distinctive saxophonists: the late Basil Coetzee, a phenomenal tenor saxophonist; Robbie Jansen, alto player with a raunchy and original style; and Winston Mankunku, schooled on Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, and his unique brand of African inflections.

The annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival (April) features some of the world’s most renowned musicians. Ghoema is the rhythm played on a ghoema drum, a sound that, for many generations, has been the basis for the popular moppies (comic songs) and ghoemaliedjies (picnic songs). The term ghoema comes from the barrel-shaped drum made out of a tin can without a bottom. Cape Town’s colourful minstrel troops occupy the streets of the city over New Year, when the hugely popular Rio-style nagtroepe (literally night-time marchers) and armies of lookers-on fill the city’s streets from January 1 onwards and ghoema troupes compete for honours in festival gatherings. Catch the Christmas Bands and Malay Choirs in this same season for marching music in the Mother City.

At other times of year, personalized township or jazz tours will take you to musicians’ homes.

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