by Njabulo Mngomezulu

Jazzy times

Jazz Gods return to the Mother City

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival takes place on 5-6 April
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, New York Times best-selling poet and critically acclaimed actress Jill Scott (USA) joins the bill for this year’s annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) as one of the headline acts.


Scott, who had to withdraw from the festival last year due to filming commitments, joins nearly 40 other world-class acts from 12 countries for a line-up of diverse live-music from traditional jazz to funk, pop, soul and more.


This year’s stellar event takes place in Cape Town on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).


Speaking in Johannesburg on 29 January 2013, Rashid Lombard, Festival Director and espAfrika CEO said: “Jazz and popular music luminaries from every continent will be represented at this year’s event in keeping with the CTIJF’s ever-growing standing as one of the world’s major music gatherings, and Africa’s premier lifestyle event. We are also extremely proud that this year, half our line-up hails from Africa.”


Kicking off the line-up announcement Lombard said jazz aficionada’s can look forward to a top quality selection of US greats, including Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist Norman Brown, Grammy Award-winning jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum and renowned jazz trumpeter Rick Braun, who together will perform as BWB, an act that has been described as astounding.


In addition, Kirk Whalum Romance Language, Whalum’s modern day recreation of a collection of duets recorded in 1963 by iconic jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and vocalist Johnny Hartman, is also on the bill, as well as undisputed master of jazz and rock violinJean-Luc Ponty (France), a graduate of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, who has performed across the globe to great acclaim, and Steve Turre, one of the world's pre-eminent jazz innovators, trombonist and seashellist who has worked with Ray Charles, Stephen Scott, Woody Shaw and Blakey.


Adding some Hip Hop flavour to this year’s line-up is Brother Ali (USA) whose 2007 release, The Undisputed Truth, was a springboard for his headlining tours in the US, Canada and Australia.  


From further south comes the voice of CéU from Brazil, combining samba, reggae, dub and electronica with amazing tunefulness.  CéU has stunned audiences at home and internationally for several years.


With high-energy from across the oceans comes Dubmarine (Australia), a nine-piece group that brings together dub, dancehall, reggae, drum ‘n bass and rock, and fuses it with other elements of music from all around the world to produce a distinctive heavy sound.


From the nearby Netherlands comes Chef'Special, which in the space of three years has grown into a solid, ambitious band of funk, hip hop, rock, reggae and orchestral excesses.


From homegrown soil in South Africa come five incredible women – Sonti, Thandiswa Mazwai, Auriol Hays, Claire Phillips and Pu2ma - have all been confirmed for this year’s festival.


Sonti has fast become a top name in South Africa. While living in exile, she met Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba and is blessed with the rare experience of working with two of SA’s great legends. Her incredible voice has seen her take the limelight with international music icons like Peter Gabriel, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie, Elton John, Sade, Paul Simon and Donna Summer.


Thandiswa Mazwai was recently described by the Guardian as South Africa's finest female contemporary singer. Combining traditional Xhosa rhythms, mbaqanga, reggae, kwaito, funk and jazz, Thandiswa believes that through music, she can have meaningful conversations about African identity.


Auriol Hays’ debut album Behind Closed Doors earned her a 2009 SAMA nomination and was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the Top 20 albums. SAMA winner, singer, songwriter and musician Claire Phillips has an instantly recognisable voice and her album Say My Name hit the top of the local music charts. Phillips has performed alongside Sasha-Lee David’s, Brandon October, Jimmy Dludlu and Joe Mc Bride to name but a few. Few words can describe the vocal prowess of Pu2ma who shared the stage with Hugh Masekela at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz in 2011 and has performed internationally at the infamous jazz club in Shanghai, China (the JZ Club).


Adding to the extraordinary variety of this year’s event is Zen-funk quintet Ronin (Switzerland), performing what they call “ritual groove music”. In 2011 the Wall Street Journal chose Ronin’s live show as one of the six best live shows together with Björk, Radiohead, Patti Smith, Feist and Anna Calvi.


Described by The Guardian as a compelling performer with an energy and personality to match that of the early Bob Marley, Senegalese maverick Cheikh Lô joins the bill, having nurtured styles and cultures from all over the globe and incorporating Brazilian rhythms and Senegalese groove into his song writing.


This year will also see a much-anticipated performance by the recently re-grouped Mafikizolo, featuring male-female duo Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza, two of the original members.


Other South African jazz greats taking centre stage at the CTIJF include Louis Moholo who presents 4 Blokes and 1 Girl, Ibrahim Khalil Shihab, Afrika Mkhize, Jonathan Rubain and Don Vino, and Ben Sharpa and Pure Solid.


Cape Town-born Louis Moholo first made a mark on the jazz percussion scene with the band, The Blue Notes. Moholo went on to become one of SA’s leading jazz drummers. In 1994 he was honoured by Straight No Chaser magazine for his contribution to the freedom of South Africa through music.


Ibrahim Khalil Shihab is a jazz pianist, composer and singer, readily recognised in South African jazz circles. He has worked extensively throughout southern Africa and across the Middle and Far East, sharing the spotlight with both South African and international stars. Also at the keyboard is Afrika Mkhize, last year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner, described as the exciting new face of South African jazz and definitely a rising star.


Two of Cape Town’s top musicians Jonathan Rubain (bass) and Don Vino (sax) pool their talent at the CTIJF to wow festival goers with a blend of bass ‘n sax never heard before. Rubain is bass player of choice for legends such as Mac McKenzie, Errol Dyers, Robbie Jansen and David Kramer, and Donvino has played with greats including Ernie Smith, Loyiso Bala, Jimmy Dludlu, Wanda Baloyi, Victor Masondo and Lady Smith Black Mambazo. 


Considered as one of the African continent’s most accomplished lyricists, hip-hop artist Ben Sharpa has dedicated his life to his art. He won a nation-wide freestyle battle competition in 2003 and became an instant hit in South Africa. The award also launched his career internationally. Sharpa has since performed at Glastonbury Festival and other well-established festivals across Europe. He performs at the CTIJF with Cape Town-based audio-visual electro dub duo, Pure Solid.


Rounding off the South African sets is the reggae-infused Afro-beat band Trenton and the Free Radicals, whose music is described as seductive, acoustic and urban with a contemporary African sound of universal appeal.


Previously announced in December 2012, international artists that will take to the stage at the 2013 CTIJF include Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club featuring Omara Portuondo (Cuba), Brand New Heavies (UK), Chano Domínguez (Spain), Gregory Porter (USA), the Jack DeJohnette Trio featuring Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison (USA) and the Robert Glasper Experiment (USA).  





The South African acts publicised last year include Errol Dyers, Jimmy Dludlu, Khuli Chana and AKA, Micasa, the Reza Khota Quartet and Zonke Dikana.


At the January 29 press conference, Lombard went on to announce that the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) had come on board as one of the funders of the Training and Development (T&D) arm of the 14th Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF), through the non-profit organization, the South Atlantic Arts and Culture Trust.


“The T&D component of the Festival has become an increasingly important part of the whole event, as we aim to expand the love of music among the broader communities of Cape Town, as well as to develop both musical talent and skills in related industries.


“We are delighted that the NLDTF is funding our extensive range of education and development programmes, as this critical part of the Festival continues to expand year after year.”


National Lotteries Board CEO, Ms Charlotte Mampane says, “We are committed to supporting projects that promote job creation, especially for the youth. The CTIJF, through the South Atlantic Arts and Culture Trust, has developed a powerful set of interventions to boost opportunities for youngsters and up-and-coming professionals who want to work in the music and entertainment industries. These individuals would otherwise never have access to such opportunities.”


The official sponsors for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2013 are the Department of Arts and Culture and the SABC (the broadcast sponsor).


 For more information on this year’s event go to


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