Alumni of the country’s best jazz development programme return while bassist and composer Carlo Mombelli will conduct the National Youth Jazz Band
The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival – part of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown – has become one of the country’s most significant jazz development programmes and takes place at DSG in Grahamstown from June 29 to July 4.
Some of the country’s top performers have participated in this acclaimed event which is now in its 24th year.
This impressive list includes Kesivan Naidoo, Beatenberg’s Matthew Field, The Kiffness duo of David Scott and Clem Carr, Tutu Puoane, Kyle Shepherd, Goldfish’s Dominic Peters and David Poole who met at the festival, Bokani Dyer, Siya Makuzeni, James Bassingthwaighte, Shaun Johannes, Monique Hellenberg, Ivan Mazuze, Dan Shout, Ayanda Sikade, Mimi Ntenjwa, Chris Engel, Prince Bulo, Mandla Mlangeni, Lwanda Gogwana, Sisonke Xonti, Thandi Ntuli and Melissa van der Spuy.
The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival (SBNYJF), with its extensive and intensive programme, culminates in the selection of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band (SBNYJB) – this year under the musical direction of South African bassist and composer Carlo Mombelli – and the Standard Bank National Schools Big Band (SBNSBB) with jazz saxophonist Dan Shout (himself a SBNYJF alumnus) at the helm for 2016.
Says Mombelli: “I am busy with the arrangements at the moment and I will be pushing them. I’ll be playing my music and teaching through my music. I have years of experience with many stories from around the world and this has all contributed to my vision in what I do. We will play my music and my arrangements but I need them to express their voices on topics I present and I will help them with that. I try to show young musicians that they must search to find their way of hearing and playing music. What I always hope to impart to students is the love they have now for the music, it must never leave them and they must respect all forms of good music, whether it is a Khoisan bow piece or a Bach fugue. It has the same value on this planet. And, of course, purists are boring so be open minded to new ideas.
“The Standard Bank Grahamstown Jazz Festival and the National Youth Jazz Festival, in my opinion, is the best jazz festival in South Africa. It presents the best cutting edge jazz musicians from South Africa as well as from all over the world; from experimental to big bands, it really is a true jazz festival for uncompromising artists,” he says.
This year’s Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival will once again bring together more than 300 students and 40 teachers from diverse backgrounds from around the country. They will be able to see and interact with the 140 top musicians who form part of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival which takes place at the same time.
The programme includes innovative jazz performances, rehearsals, workshops, lectures and networking culminating in the top jazz students in South Africa auditioning for places in the SBNSBB and SBNYJB, and is regarded as the most significant single youth jazz development initiative in the country.
Bands performing this year at the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival include
The David Kontra Trio, the winners of the Swedish Jazz Federation Youth Competition.
Big band jazz is thriving in high schools around South Africa and also on the programme are the Rondebosch Big Band (Cape Town), Stirling Big Band (East London), CAFCA Matlosana (Klerksdorp) and student bands from Wits, UKZN and UCT.
This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz winner 2016 Siya Makuzeni is just one of the SBNYJB alumna who will be performing at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival and inspiring a new generation of players. Also on the bill is Cape Town duo The Kiffness which 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.
Goldfish’s Sakhile Moleshe (another alumnus) is part of another of this year’s acts, Soul Housing Project which also features Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2011 Bokani Dyer.