Cape Town Jazz Fest to spoil for choice

3 March 2011

Praised by President Jacob Zuma for creating 2 000 jobs and contributing more than R475-million to the economy in 2010, this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival is aiming higher still, with over 40 African and international stars set to spoil festival goers with choice.

The key to the success of “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 25 and 26 March, is programming.

In addition to putting up 40 bands on five stages over two days, the organisers working with the musicians put together “concept bands” specially assembled for the event. The list of 20 additional artists unveiled last week includes four concept bands.

Four ‘concept bands’

The first concept band will be a Tribute to Oscar Peterson featuring Dutch pianist Jack van Poll, globe-trotting South African guitarist James Scholfield, and Dutch bassist Hein van Geyn.

Opting for a piano-guitar-bass format that resembles the definitive Oscar Peterson-Ray Brown-Herb Ellis trio, the three will dig deep into the late Canadian pianist’s swinging and massive repertoire.

The second band that had been put together for the occasion is Guitafrika, a unique collaboration by three African guitarists – South Africa’s Steve Newman, Eric Triton from Mauritius, and Alhousseini Mohamed Anivolla from Niger.

In addition to showcasing different guitar-playing styles from the continent, the three musicians will celebrate the history and role of guitars in African music.

With a number of Cape Town jazz musicians having passed on in the last year, the third concept band, The Cape Town Tribute Band, has been formed under the musical directorship of Alvin Dyers and will pay tribute to Winston Mankunku, Tony Schilder, Donald Tshomela, Ezra Ngcukana, Robbie Jansen and Hotep Galeta and Vincent Kolbe.

Joining Dyers will be pianist Nick Williams, bassist Wesley Rustin and drummer Denver Furness. Guests such as saxophonist Buddy Wells, pianist Mike Perry, guitarist Errol Dyers, trumpeter Ian Smith and singer Sylvia Mdunyelwa will join the piano-guitar-bass-drums quartet as it goes through tunes like Schilder’s “Montreal”, Galeta’s “Harold’s Bossa” and Ngozi’s “Crossroads”.

The last concept project is The Conversations, with bassist Victor Masondo and Johannesburg-based trumpeter/conductor Prince Lengoasa, drummer Kevin Gibson, pianist Mark Fransman, and saxophonist Donvino Prins.

The Conversations will offer a rare opportunity to see Masondo, who was recently invited to present his arrangements of Duke Ellington’s music at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival in Washington, DC.

“Concept bands make the festival unique,” says festival director Rashid Lombard. “People have the opportunity to see bands that they are unlikely to see somewhere else or in their lifetime.”

Headline artists

In addition to the concept bands, headline artists announced in January are: Earth, Wind and Fire (US); Christian Scott (US); Dave Ledbetter and the Clearing (SA); Dave Koz (US); Esperanza Spalding (US); Gang of Instrumentals (SA); Gazelle (SA); Hanjin (Singapore/Hong Kong); Hubert Laws (US); Ivan Mazuze (Mozambique/SA); Lisa Bauer (SA); Monique Bingham (US); Patricia Barber (US); Sandra Cordeira (Angola); Simphiwe Dana (SA); The Flames – Official Reunion (SA); Wayne Shorter Quartet with Brian Blade, Danilo Perez & John Patitucci (US); and Youssou N’dour (Senegal).

Added to the lineup last week were:

  • Guitarist, composer and arranger Chieli Minucci with his Grammy-nominated jazz-fusion group Special EFX.


  • US guitarist Chuck Loeb, who in addition to leading his solo projects has the guitar seat in the pre-eminent contemporary jazz band Fourplay. He will be joined on stage by Spanish vocalist Carmen Cuesta.



  • Drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana, who with her quartet “Another Lifetime” and with Felix Pastorius, son of the late Jaco Pastorius, will pay a tribute to drum machine and pioneer of jazz-rock fusion, Tony Williams.



  • BeBe Winans, a vocalist that comes out of a Detroit family in which both parents and nine other siblings are all recorded musicians.


Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis

Another special act will be a performance by South African great Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis. In 2005, Masekela released an album that was different from his previous recordings. Almost Like Being In Jazz consisted of jazz standards taken from the American songbook. In the recording there was not a single Masekela composition. Also absent were the home-brewed compositions that the 71-year-old artist always belts out.

“When I first began recording and performing in America, self-anointed ‘jazz experts’ Leonard Feather and Stanley Crouch were extremely offended by the music I was playing and vehemently declared: This is not jazz,” says Masekela on the origins of his unusual recording.

Throughout his career, Masekela wanted to prove these “jazz policemen” wrong and show them that he could play “jazz”. But more than that, the trumpeter who draws massive audiences wherever he performs was keen to show his respect for composers and past performers who had brought great joy to music lovers with their outstanding songs.

Joined by pianist Larry Willis, bassist Victor Masondo and drummer Lee-Roy Sauls, Masekela will play music that inspired him to record Almost Like Being In Jazz. Masekela will lead his qaurtet in front of a seated audience at the Rosies stage.

Additional artists

Other artists added to the lineup last week were: South African pianist and producer Don Laka; Berlin-based nu-jazz group Jazzanova featuring US vocalist/bassist Paul Randolph; leading South African trumpet-player Feya Faku; live house band Tortured Soul from Boston; Mozambican saxophonist Orlando Venhereque; local hip-hop outfit Tumi and The Volume; poet and actor Naima McLean; Songbook, a band led by a promising South African trumpet-player Lwanda Gogwana; local student group Sekunjalo Edujazz Band; Citie, a bass guitarist from Botswana; and three artists from Cape Town’s StereoType Records: Chad Saaiman, Mathew Moolman and Lloyd Jansen.

Community Concert, workshops

A free Community Concert will take place at Green Market Square on the Wednesday prior to the festival, showcasing of some of the festival’s international and local acts.

As part of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival’s commitment to the sustainable development of the music arts industry, festival workshops will place at various venues throughout the CBD and greater Cape Town over an eight-day period.

The workshops will explore various elements of the jazz world, including arts journalism, music business, master classes, arts and culture focus schools, gigs for kids, youth workshops and a photography workshop.

Two new additions to this year’s workshops are The Juilliard School, New York’s “Conversations 2011: A Trans-Continental Jazz Event”, and the Berklee College of Music’s (US) Auditions, Interviews and Clinics.

“This is a positive development that we believe will strengthen ongoing efforts to build the necessary skills base to sustain the growth and development of the creative and cultural industriesm,” said Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile

South African Tourism CEO Thandiwe January-McLean added: “South African Tourism takes great pride in supporting this world-class event that has helped showcase our country as a unique lifestyle and musical destination.”

Ticket prices for the 2011 festival are: R365 for a single day pass and R499 for a two-day weekend pass. As in previous years, there will be an extra fee of R25 per act for patrons wishing to attend concerts on the Rosies stage. Tickets are available via Computicket and Shoprite-Checkers stores.

The gold sponsors for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2011 are the Department of Arts and Culture, Ritek Investments, and Mzansi Magic (channel 107 on DSTV) the broadcast sponsor.

Other sponsors include the Provincial Government of the Western Cape, the City of Cape Town, Hansa Pilsner, the provincial Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Cape Town Partnership, South African Tourism, Polo, the Western Cape Education Department, and the Pepper Club Luxury Hotel and Spa.

SAinfo reporter

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