Organisers of the 8th Annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007 announced a further 12-African and overseas artists that will perform at this year’s festival scheduled for Friday 30 and Saturday 31 March. The 12-names that were revealed to the media today at the Johannesburg’s Standard Bank Gallery join the initial line-up of 22-groups announced in January. A total of 40-acts will perform over the two days on five stages at the Cape Town International Convention Centre [CTICC]. Select bands will also perform at the Free Community Concert to be held at Cape Town’s Greenmarket Square on Thursday 29 March. The pre-festival concert has become a permanent feature of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and is the organisers’ commitment to community members who cannot make it to the paid sessions of the event.
From the new list of artists announced today, it is clear that the events organisers espAfrika [Pty] Ltd are sticking to the formula that has won the festival the accolade of “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”. “The line-up this year is consistent with our vision of the festival being a platform to showcase Africa’s best and the finest internationally. We maintain the 50/50 split between African artists and musicians from the rest of the world. We have also stuck to our formula where the Cape Town International Jazz Festival brings together jazz and other jazz-related experimental genres”, says the festival director Rashid Lombard.
The 12-artists announced today are: Leela James [US], Gino Vannelli [Canada], Average White Band [US and Scotland], Themba Mkhize [RSA], Darius Brubeck & the SAPO/UKZN Rolling Reunion Band [RSA and US], Ernest Mothle Quartet [RSA], Saskia Laroo [Holland], Hip Hop Pantsula [RSA], The Stoner [Sweden], Closet Snare [RSA], Yehya Khalil & the Egyptian Jazz Fusion [Egypt] and Bheki Khoza [RSA]
Music of the 1970s to reverberate at this year’s festival
Since inauguration in 2000, the popular sounds of the 1970s have swept audiences at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. This year will be no different. To bring yesteryear’s music is Canadian vocalist Gino Vannelli and US-based funk unit called the Average White Band [AWB].
A recording musician for more than three decades, Gino Vannelli’s jazz-inflected pop songs hit the Billboard charts in the 1970s and 1980s’s. His 1978 tune “I Just Wanna Stop”, won him a Grammy nomination. In the last 10-years, Vanelli released serene recordings as he turned to more acoustic music. This is after he relocated to Oregon and immersed himself in a study of world religions and philosophy. But his latest release, These Are the Days echoes the pop sounds of the earlier period, albeit with the experience of the 1980s and 1990s.
But the coup for this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival is the signing of the Average White Band [AWB]. With its origins in Scotland, the group moved in the mid-1970s across the Atlantic Ocean and signed with Atlantic Records where they became stable mates of groups such as the Spinners, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin. The soul and funk bug that was all over the US, had really got to them. They began to produce hits such “Pick Up the Pieces”; “Cut the Cake” and “Let’s Go Around Again”; which saw them garnering support throughout the world.
While the band’s name will definitely raise eyebrows among South Africans oblivious to the group’s fame, AWB’s appearance at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007 provides an opportunity for the group to connect with their huge fan base in the country. Audiences will also be treated to the music in the band’s latest CD, Soul & the City. But more importantly, those who heard AWB’s riffs from samples by hip-hop and rap artists like Public Enemy and Ice-T; now have the opportunity to hear the fast and brassy sounds from the real originators of the music.
But it is not only the veterans of the 1970s that will tap into the soul and funk reservoir of 30-years ago. As shown in previous years of the festival, there exist a new crop of young artists who seek inspiration from the soul era of the 1970s. Among the musicians added to the initial line-up is the reigning queen of nu-soul, Leela James. She brings with her, the 6-piece band that features in her 2005 debut album, A Change is Gonna Come. “I want my music to bring back good lyrics and real singing that touch people in their hearts and melodies that stick to their ribs and nourish the soul”, says the 23-year old vocalist describing the music that fuses soul, gospel and Motown.
Yehya Khalil leads the African contingent at the CTIJF 2007
Leading the African troupe is percussionist and drummer Yehya Khalil. In 1957, Khalil formed the first jazz band in Egypt, which is where the title of being the father of Egyptian jazz comes from. Fifty years after his historic move, Khalil is still active in North Africa’s jazz scene. In addition to his weekly performances at the Cairo Jazz Club, Khalil hosts a television programme called the “Jazz World”. He has also played with artists such as James Brown, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. Celebrated US-trumpeter described Khalil as “possibly the greatest drummer alive”.
Khalil appears at this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival with his Egyptian Jazz Fusion band. They will dish what is a mix of jazz and Mediterranean music.
Part of Africa’s contingent at this year’s festival is pianist Themba Mkhize, bassist Ernest Mothle, and pianist Darius Brubeck. All three will lead their own bands at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007.
When singer Sibongile Khumalo described pianist Themba Mkhize as “the one with big ears”, this was not to mock him but to praise his musicality and his attention to detail. Mkhize produced Khumalo’s first three albums. Recently, the pianist who hails from the province of KwaZulu-Natal produced Pat Matshikiza, Nokukhanya Dlamini, Andile Mseleku and Geoff Mapaya’s CDs. Mkhize has also directed numerous concerts and musicals. To have won the confidence of other musicians means that there is something that Mkhize possesses and that other musicians appreciate.
It is Mkhize’s compositional and arranging abilities that have made him a well sought-after artist. Everything that he lays he hands on, wins. His last album Hands On brought him a 2005 South African Music Award [SAMA] in the best male artist category. No newcomer at the Cape International Jazz Festival, Mkhize is at this year’s festival with his mixture of jazz and indigenous grooves.
Ernest Mothle was the bassist of choice for many of South Africa’s jazz musicians in the 1960s. Emerging as a member of the African Jazz and Variety Band, Mothle went to play for Hesebeshu with Cyril Magubane, Nelson Magwaza, Henry and Stanley Sithole. He also did a stint with Gibson Kente’s first professional musical, Manana – The Jazz Prophet. He was also in Kente’s famous Lifa and Sikhalo plays. Mothle played bass in the first-ever recording of Mankunku Ngozi’s Yakhal’ Inkomo which was done at South African Broadcasting Corporation [SABC] studios for airplay and never released.
When he left for exile in 1972, Mothle connected up with other jazz exiles such as Julian Bahula, Dudu Pukwana and Chris McGregor. Since his return to South Africa, Mothle is involved in developing young musicians through institutions such as Mmabana Cultural Foundation in Mafikeng and the Vusi Mahlasela Musical Development Foundation based at the State Theatre in Tshwane.
Bheki Khoza: Last year, an idea to pay a tribute to legendary South African guitarist Philip Tabane came up. The challenge was to find a person that could arrange Tabane’s music as well as direct the concert. Given Tabane’s unpredictable grooves, the arranger and musical director had to have the ability to take Tabane’s earthy compositions and arrange them for a big band and string quartet. And the left-handed guitarist Bheki Khoza was the only suitable candidate for the job.
Over the years, Bheki Khoza has emerged not only as a skilled guitarist but a very astute arranger and musical director. Three years back, he had the task of directing the music for the movie, Sophiatown. He is also the producer of Simphiwe Dana’s recently released album, One Love Movement – On Bantu Biko Street. Khoza’s musical roots go back to Durban’s township of Chesterville – where he was born and a township that has produced not less than six well-known guitarists. His musical journey took him through Ntemi Piliso’s African Jazz Pioneers and to the US where he obtained a music degree, with distinction, at Jackie McLean’s University of Hartford jazz studies programme.
In 2006, Bheki Khoza released his debut album, Getting to Heaven Alive. The CD bears testimony to Khoza’s ability to combine jazz with maskandi music. He is at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007 to perform music from his new album.
Darius Brubeck is the descendant of the US-based Brubeck jazz dynasty. Since 1983 he has been running a jazz studies programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal [UKZN] – a programme that offered the first jazz degree course in Africa. He also co-led a band with bassist Victor Ntoni called the Afro-Cool Concept. The other members of the quartet were saxophonist Barney Rachabane and drummer Lulu Gontsana The group performed all over the world and in 1990 he made a live recording at the New Orleans & Heritage Festival.. The band’s second album came out in 2005 with bassist Bongani Sokhela replacing Ntoni on the CD.
Brubeck appears at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007 with the SAPO/UKZN Rolling Reunion Band. The band brings together the jazz alumni of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The group premiered last year at the South African Association of Jazz Educators [SAJE] conference, and at the Awesome Africa Musical festival in September 2006.
Two cutting-edge European groups added to new line-up
From Europe is an audacious Swedish quartet The Stoner and indomitable Dutch trumpeter, Saskia Laroo. The Stoner is a band that fuses traditional jazz and popular music. The band’s 2004 debut album had as a title song, “Upp till kamp” – a pop tune that ABBA’s Benny Andersson wrote for the1990 Equestrian Games, which were held in Stockholm. The group’s second album, The Lektor Tapes saw saxophonist Nils Berg, bassist Nils Ölmedal, pianist Jonas Östholm and drummer Jon Fält in a conversation with an electronica outfit known as Forss vs. Borg. Band leader Nils Berg described the encounter as a test on “whether two computers could communicate with a jazz band”.
Saskia Laroo, in addition to being a guest artist to bands in far-flung places such Lithuania, Russia, Poland and the US, leads four different groups of her own – Jazzkia that plays straight-ahead jazz; Salsabop anchored in Latin music; Saskia Laroo Band which excels in dance music; and Sakia’s Solo Act where Laroo appears with DJs.
It is the ease with which Laroo moves between these varied musical styles which has earned her the title of being “The Lady Miles of Europe”. Her appearance at “Africa’s Grandest Gathering” fits well with the organisers’ vision of the festival as the bringing together of jazz with its popular siblings and children.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival: A Space for Jazz-Related Experimental Genres
To the chagrin of “jazz purists and policemen”, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival has from inception been a space also, for jazz-related experimental genres. In the additional list of 12 artists, it was announced that two groups that fall into the “jazz-related experimental genres” category will perform at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007. They are Closet Snare [RSA] and Hip-Hop Pantsula [RSA]
Closet Snare is the coming together of trumpeter Lee Thomson, guitarist Marc Buchanan, bassist Sean Ou Tim, drummer Kesivan Naidoo and DJ Sibot. Besides being members of Closet Snare, members of this Cape Town-based group are active in bands such as Tribe, Golliwog and Real Estate Agents. What brought them together is the longing to “produce music without any boundaries, genres or trends”. Having performed together since November 2005, the group has developed a following for what they call “free and improvised electronic music”. A video jockey, VJ Grrrl will join the five musicians on stage, to create a vivid musical and visual experience.
Hip Hop Pantsula [HHP] is the stage name for Jabulani Tsambo’s outfit. HHP is one of the pioneers of Motswako – hip hop and rap music sang in Setswana. As the name indicates, HHP’s music takes music styles such as rap, hip hop and kwaito and fuses them with the pantsula music of the 1980s. From HHP’s latest and fourth album, it is clear that the artist is eager to extend his appeal beyond North West’s Mafikeng town which is where it all began for Jabba [another name for HHP]. Although YBA 2 NW, is still steeped in HHP’s Motswako style and has commentary on the changes that took place in his hometown which was the capital of the homeland of Bophuthatswana and now is a capital of North West province, the new album incorporates elements that talk to other experiences. The album has English and Afrikaans rap lines. “Lefatshe Je”, heavily borrows from the churchly-format of Amadodana Ase-Wesile.
CTIJF 2007 to be an outstanding event
The12-artists announced join the 22-groups already confirmed. The first artists announced are: the Joe Sample Trio feat. Randy Crawford [US]; Ladysmith Black Mambazo [RSA]; Jack DeJohnette [US] and Sibongile Khumalo [RSA]– ‘Intercontinental’ with Danilo Perez [Panama], Jerome Harris [US], Byron Wallen [UK] and Jason Yarde [UK]; The Caribbean Jazz Project feat. Paquito D’Rivera [Cuba], Dave Samuels [US] and Andy Narell [US]; Vivid Afrika [RSA]; Concord Nkabinde [RSA]; Esther Miller [RSA] feat. special guest Jeremy Pelt [US]; Bev Scott-Brown [RSA]; Muirhead Quartet [RSA]; Fethi Tabet [Algeria]; Shannon Mowday [RSA]; Lira [RSA]; Diego Amador [Spain]; Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band [RSA]; Rudimentals [RSA]; Nils Landgren & Funk Unit [Sweden]; Hilton Schilder [RSA]; Konitz Quartet [US]; Stimela [RSA]; Tortured Soul [US]; and Gerri Allen Trio [US] feat. Jimmy Cobb.
The choice and calibre of the artists on the line-up, undoubtedly shows that this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival will be an outstanding event. Tickets are available from Computicket. A day pass is R290 and a two-day weekend pass will cost R430. As in previous years, there is an extra R25 for each of the eight shows [out of a total of 40] that take place on the Rosies stage.
The Gold sponsors for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007 are South African Airways, South African Broadcasting Corporation [SABC], Standard Bank, Department of Arts and Culture and South African Rail Commuter Association [SARCC]
Marius Vorster, Director: Group Sponsorships, Communications and Events for Standard Bank said: ‘’Standard Bank is excited and honoured to once again be a gold sponsor of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. It has been an exciting opportunity for us, a way for us to connect with our customers the Standard Bank way – through our values; centered on making a difference in the communities we serve. We understand the richness, diversity and value of the arts in building a society and have hence, stayed in the forefront through investment in various art disciplines.’’
Mr. Kaizer Kganyago Head: Group Communications SABC said: “The 8th Cape Town International jazz festival comes at a time when the SABC has just adopted a new strategy and a new vision of “Broadcasting for Total Citizen Empowerment”. The vision is supported by three values. i.e.: Conversations and partnerships; Restoring human dignity and Building a common future”. “SABC3 will broadcast a 90 minute documentary. Other channels and especially our radio channels will support the Cape Town International Jazz Festival as we build up to the actual event – live crossings and Outside Broadcasts will form part of our offering to the citizens of our country who will not be able to attend Africa’s grandest gathering”
The Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille said: ‘’On behalf of the City of Cape Town I would like to encourage Cape Town’s jazz lovers to come out in their numbers to this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival. I would also like to thank the organisers and performers for all their hard work in putting together this wonderful event. We owe you a debt of gratitude for the colour and style that you bring to Cape Town’s cultural scene. The City remains committed to doing all that we can to promote the heritage of jazz music, and I would like to encourage the leaders in the private sector to join the City and Province in providing financial and any other kind of assistance they can for the festival. If we work together, this annual event will be able to grow and provide a bigger platform for our local artists, while at the same time giving the people of Cape Town the chance to enjoy a range of international jazz talent”.
The Silver sponsor is Pilsner Urquell, and other secondary sponsors and/or funding principals include Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports, City of Cape Town, SA Tourism, South Atlantic Arts & Culture Trust, Swedish Jazz Foundation, Iziko, ZASE JAZZ, Telkom, Cape Town Partnership, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, SA Ports Operations, Peninsula Beverages, Alliance Francais, Embassy of Spain, French Republic, IFAS and the Egyptian Embassy
Travel packages are available from South African Airways [SAA] which is one of the gold sponsors of the event at +27 11 9781144 or www.flysaa.com