Jazz evening brings people together in Stellenbosch

The Gallery of the University of Stellenbosch’s experimental jazz evening drew in a larger crowd than expected, with roughly 70 artists, students and Stellenbosch residents gathering to enjoy the music of Vuma Levin.

The event was hosted by the gallery to gauge the public’s interest in the space as a possible pop-up music venue.

jazz evening

Jazz musician, Vuma Levin plays alongside Bernard van Rossum at the Gallery of the University of Stellenbosch. PHOTO: Holly Charlton

Valeria Geselev, curator of the gallery says she was optimistic for a crowd of 25, and is “very grateful” for the success of the evening. “This proves there is space for this kind of initiative in Stellenbosch,” added Geselev.

The gallery hopes to establish a crossover initiative between jazz events in Stellenbosch and  similar initiatives, such as Jazz in The Native Yards, in Gugulethu.

Koko Kalashe, a director of Jazz In the Native Yards, expressed enthusiasm at the power of jazz to bring two worlds together. “Distances are extreme between Gugulethu and Stellenbosch, and jazz allows the meeting of people from different backgrounds. Jazz is all about ‘social cohesion’,” said Kalashe.

When asked about the evening, Kalashe said the gallery serves as a successful venue. This is due to the mixing of informal and spontaneous jazz with the formal and organised artistic displays on the wall.

Vuma Levin, the headlining performer agreed to perform without charge in support of the initiative. Levin is launching his second album and is currently on tour with dates scheduled in Cape Town and Europe. Levin was accompanied by Bernard van Rossum on the saxophone whom he met during the 7 years he spent abroad in the Netherlands.

Von Rossum will join Levin, along with three other jazz musicians, while he tours his album Life and Death on the Other Side of the Dream.

When asked why he chose jazz, Levin admitted he was initially a rock enthusiast, but was drawn to jazz because of its sense of melody, harmony and “the element of improvisation”.

– Tegan Mouton and Holly Charlton