Playing jazz through apartheid

THE CRYPT, CAPE TOWN — Jazz musicians say you must suffer to truly play jazz. Few can say they’ve suffered like any older, non-white jazz musician in South Africa. “We were not allowed to play because of the color of our skin,” Spencer Mbadu told me. “During apartheid days, it was difficult for black musicians,…

Indian slum, or Gaana, music is as intense as the setting

CHENNAI, INDIA — Nothing can possibly prepare a Westerner for the sights, sounds, smells, and citizens of the slums of Chennai. It is all a completely overwhelming, fascinating, intense, absorbing, totally out-of-our-background experience in every possible way. First of all, the people of Chennai are among the most welcoming in the world. They start with…