Jazz innovators from 12 different countries will share the stage with top SA artists including Caiphus Semenya, Simphiwe Dana, Afrika Mkhize and Ringo Madlingozi
Some of the world’s most interesting jazz innovators from 12 different countries will be on the bill at this year’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival, which runs in Grahamstown as part of the National Arts Festival from June 30 to July 9.
They include Grammy Award winners Trio Corrente from Brazil and Norwegian saxophonist Petter Wettre; Austrian singer, composer and trumpeter Michaela Rabitsch and her partner, guitarist Robert Pawlick; Dutch saxophonist Toon Roos; Sweden’s David Kontra Trio and the powerhouse tenor sax duo of Dave O’Higgins (UK) and Per Thornberg (Sweden).
They will join a bill that inlcudes powerhouse South African musicians such as the legendary Caiphus Semenya; Simphiwe Dana; the Afrika Mkhize Big Band; Swing City and Ringo Madlingozi.
The Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown has grown in stature over the years and is now regarded as a serious international jazz festival that gives audiences a sense of the country’s jazz heritage as well as new trends emerging from both within the continent and around the globe. It also has some not-to-be-missed collaborations between visiting musicians and their local counterparts.
Trio Corrente comprises Fabio Torres (piano), Paulo Paulelli (bass) and Edu Ribeiro (drums) and has garnered two Grammys in an illustrious career. The band has worked with the likes of Mike Stern, Stacey Kent and Paquito d’Rivera.
Caiphus Semenya has built a solid reputation as a musical director and composer having composed the scores for Roots and The Color Purple, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He later worked on the score to Disney’s The Lion King.
Two times Norwegian Grammy Award winner Petter Wettre has made his mark as one of the most important musicians on the contemporary Norwegian jazz scene and is one of the most virtuoso saxophonists in the world today.
Austrian singer, composer and trumpeter Michaela Rabitsch has been called a modern-day female Chet Baker by US magazine Jazzscene. With his intuitive, lyrical and well-balanced style, Dutch musician Toon Roos is considered to be one of the finest tenor and soprano saxophonists in Europe.
One of the goals of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival is to open up opportunities for networking and collaboration between the international performers and their South African counterparts. A major feature this year will be Afrika Mkhize’s Big Band, paying tribute to Bheki Mseleku, with musicians from around the country as well as foreign guests.
This year South African bassist and composer Carlo Mombelli joins forces with three young Swiss musicians, led by trombonist Andreas Tschopp, who studied trombone at the Music Academy in Basel under Adrian Mears, a long-time collaborator with Mombelli. Cape to Calais is a not-to-be-missed collaboration between the established French duo of Daniel Mille (accordion) and Stéphane Chausse (clarinet) who will be joined by Dutch master bassist Hein van de Geyn and South African guitarist Dave Ledbetter.
The Ginsburg/Mezza Convergence Band comprises Mark Ginsburg, a formidable force in the Australian jazz scene with strong influences from his South African upbringing and Italy’s Vittorio Mezza. They appear with Romy Brauteseth (bass) and Kevin Gibson (drums) as well as a group of inspiring young South African vocalists led by Australian vocal coach Judy Campbell. Jazz pianist Paul Hanmer and indie/rock/world singer and songwriter Wendy Oldfield also team up in a unique collaboration that fuses jazz, folk, pop and African styles to bridge a path between genres.
The Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown has become a litmus test of South Africa’s jazz future and this year again presents some of the country’s best young talent who will be playing each other’s music and pushing the boundaries. Young Guns comprises Sisonke Xonti, Justin Bellairs, Thandi Ntuli, Romy Brauteseth and Claude Cozens while Cape Town duo The Kiffness has rapidly become one of South Africa’s favourite live electronic acts, producing jazzy, groovy house music. Founder member David Scott first attended the Jazz Festival as a 13-year-old trumpeter and his musical partner, Clem Carr, was in the Standard Bank National Schools Jazz Band in 2003.
This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz winner Siya Makuzeni will lead an ensemble of young South African musicians while Soul Housing Project is the contemporary project of former Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2012 Bokani Dyer and vocalist Sakhile Moleshe, the voice behind Goldfish.
Other artists performing at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival include American pianist Justin Binek; Mozambique’s Frank Paco; Kyle Shepherd; Loyisa Bala; Lloyd Cele; Graeme Watkins and Nokukhanya Dlamini.
Says Hazel Chimhandamba, head of Group Sponsorships at Standard Bank: “We are delighted with the 2016 line-up which features more than 100 top musicians. We are delighted that the Festival continues to draw jazz lovers from around the country as well as being a tool to grow young jazz musicians in South Africa.”