CAPE TOWN – The Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF), which runs on Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1, is a giant of an event deserving, some say, of the type of respect usually reserved for the Mother City’s better known tourist magnets such as Table Mountain or Robben Island.
In fact, it was the first event Cape Town Tourism’s chief executive Enver Duminy named when he told African News Agency (ANA) recently that events should have an official place on the list of Cape Town’s big tourist attractions. He suggested a number 8 be added to the city’s current ‘Big 7’: the Table Mountain Cableway, the V & A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch, Robben Island Museum, Groot Constantia, Cape Point and the City Walk.
Duminy noted that the jazz festival and its 37,000 attendees contributed in excess of R700 million to the economy each year. He added that he thought the festival could be likened to the famous annual jazz festival in New Orleans, which many see as the global centre of the genre.
With a line-up of more than 40 artists split 50/50 split between international and local artists, the CTIJF certainly is known and loved well beyond these shores.
As usual this year’s line-up is an eclectic and impressive mixture of big names and newcomers.
Few people will not have heard of South African Afro funk, jazz and gospel singer Judith Sephuma or the Soweto String Quartet. These big names are joined this year by the American contemporary jazz supergroup Jazz Funk Soul featuring Everette Harp, Jeff Lorber and Paul Jackson Jnr.
Another band that needs little introduction is the all-female RnB group En Vogue, who have sold more than 20 million records since their 1990 debut album Born to Sing. The “real funky divas” are certain to impress with their innovative blend of soul and hip hop.
Many others performers have cult status. The festival’s organisers said they received 117,000 tweets within a couple of hours of confiming the appearance of the group The Internet.
Music lovers can expect some raw talent when current and past pupils between the ages of 17 and 20 play a selection of jazz and African numbers during a set by the Chris Hani High School band. The Sekunjalo Edujazz Band will perform, as will Vudu, a nu-jazz collective from Port Elizabeth that won the 2016 esp Young Legends talent search.
Interesting collaborations are often a feature of the CTIJF. This year will see 80-year-old Cameroonian legend Manu Dibango meet up on stage with Sama-winning Mozambican reedman Moreira Chonguiça. Another act, Skyjack, is an award-winning collaborative band of five jazz musicians from South Africa and Switzerland who work together whenever cross-continental trips are possible.
Another nice, different surprise on the programme is Escalandrum, an Argentine sextet led by drummer Daniel ‘Pipi’ Piazzola, grandson of the one and only Astor Piazzola, who pioneered a revolution in tango music for new urban audiences starting in the 1940s. The band’s music is not simply a revival of tango tradition, however, it draws inspiration from global as well as local beats, from folklore as well as city music.
Tsepo Tshola, the super popular, award-winning jazz musician who appeared with Mafikizolo at last year’s event is back “by popular demand” to host his own set.
Locals and visitors who didn’t manage to bag a ticket to this weekend’s festival can get a big slice of the action on Wednesday night when the city hosts a free community concert from 5pm in Greenmarket Square.
The showcase of performing artists from this year’s CTIJF line-up will include En Vogue and local Afro-pop heroes Mango Groove.
Less well-known talents who will perform on the night include Danielle Jacobs, winner of the annual Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union’s talent competition, and the All Star Band, a group of young performers chosen from the CTIJF training and development workshops.
Sponsors of the 18th Cape Town International Jazz Festival Free Community Concert include: Department of Arts and Culture, Independent Media, National Lottery, South Atlantic Arts & Culture Trust, City of Cape Town, Coca Cola and Cape Town Central Improvement District.
– African News Agency (ANA)