How WHK lost its groove …the demise of the jazz genre

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Jeremiah Ndjoze

Windhoek-Blue Note was the brainchild of one Dr. Hylton Villet.
“I am a jazz fanatic; have always been. As such, I established the venue at that time because I saw the need for an establishment that catered to the entertainment requirements of the hardworking, professional type and those are the patrons we received,” Villet says.

Following the sale of the club, the meeting point for the city’s jazz enthusiasts transformed into a teenybopper’s hidey-hole, albeit for unsavoury reasons.

“The culture of good music died right there and then,” laments another jazz pundit and businessman Haroldt Urib, and adds, “This leaves us serious music lovers out of place.”

Worse still, is the Windhoek Jazz Festival. “The jazz scene in Namibia is currently on life-support and the Windhoek Jazz Festival is not doing much to remedy the situation,” Moloi – a dentist on any other day, and radio deejay come Sundays maintains.

“I will say it like it is. The organisers of the Windhoek Jazz Festival think they know what jazz is but their choice in musical acts says the opposite.

“We’ve witnessed artist like HHP headlining the event. We’ve also seen Freshly Ground on stage, and Ringo (Madlingozi) is set to headline this year’s event. In my professional opinion none of these performers are jazz musicians,” Moloi says.

According to Moloi, the aforementioned artist were selected to the detriment of notable local greats like Amakhoe – also known as the man with bass that speaks – saxophonist Suzy Eises, the award winning Erna Chimu or the legendary Original Jazz Masters.

This is not to mention the likes of Zimbabwe’s Louis Mhlanga, Botswana’s Sereetsi and The Natives, Nnunu Ramogkomotsi or South Africa’s Tutu Puoane.

Nevertheless, Moloi says the vibe at these festivals is always on point.
“The culture of good music died right there and then. Gone are the days that people performed music with live instruments. What we get these days is lip-synching and backtracks,” Urib laments.
The choice of venue for the jazz festival bothers him pointing out that the open venue is not a “jazz type of venue”.

“Sound matters in jazz. They need to create an ambiance that goes with the music. When it comes to jazz, it’s not how much noise you make but the beautiful detail in the sound,” Urib says and Villet concurs.

“I enjoy jazz in a quaint, romantic type of atmosphere where the sound is controlled and the lighting complements the music.”

By the time of going to press, the City of Windhoek had not responded to questions forwarded.
Be that as it may, the three jazz gurus hint that jazz lovers should keep their eyes glued because the light at the end of the tunnel may be in sight.

Former Energy100 FM’s acting station manager and current NBC presenter, Martin Ukarerani, sees this light and remains adamant that the jazz genre in the country will soon sprout to life if the emergence of young blood in the industry is anything to go by.

Meanwhile, Moloi has launched a social media platform called Namibia Jazz Appreciation Society and a subsequent organisation with the same name now boasts about 300 members. The society aims to mainstream ‘everything jazz’ in Namibia.

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