Stylistic traits in South African Jazz Barney Rachabane: a case study

  • Kevin Davidson


This research views the construction of melodic improvised playing as an extended chain of causal events, which in themselves are interdependent on one another. The author is of the opinion that all improvising soloists strive to speak with their own voice. This research therefore looks at two remarkable such voices. The intent of this writing was never to find one practitioner’s method superior to the other. As listeners we would like to experience a diversity of melodic and harmonic concepts when absorbing the uniqueness of improvised solo playing. The analysis of playing is based on a set of jazz performances that took place at Sun City. There were many soloists that night; however the author identifies Bob Mintzer and Barney Rachabane’s playing, both of who were at the top of their game, as pivotal. This provided a unique opportunity for the author to look for possible sources that could be fuelling the prime ideas in their music. These prime ideas usually occur in a constant state of flux in any given solo. However, if music reflects the many facets of the human soul, either in joy or in anguish, then personal experience and background could, in themselves, become generators of prime idea formations that may reflect the identity and predilections of the improvising soloist. These formations, when they do occur in an improvised passage, could have the ability to touch the listener in a deeper place than any predetermined melodic construct may do.

SAMUS 32: 21-35

Author Biography

Kevin Davidson
Tshwane University of Technology

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0258-509X