|Article by Thompson n Team
Published February 13, 2008
The line-up of the 42 artists to perform at the 9th Cape Town International Jazz Festival(March 28-29, 2008) is now complete with the announcement in Johannesburg on February 12, 2008 of 21 more performers. With six of the 21 additional artists being guitar outfits or led by guitarists, the Cape Town Jazz Festival -fondly known as Africa’s Grandest Gathering- looks like a “Festival of the Guitars”. THOMPSON N TEAM report.
Leading the pack is award-winning US guitarist Lee Ritenour. Joining Ritenour as part of the line-up is the rising star of the jazz guitar Lionel Loueke who comes from Benin, South African-based Mozambican guitarist Jimmy Dludlu, guitarist Kunle Ayo from Nigeria and US soul vocalist/guitarist Raul Midón.
Also on stage is a string of South African guitarists who will perform with the Bebop Guitars, a US band constituted by members of the guitar faculty at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Massachusetts. The six guitar units join Zimbabwean guitarist/vocalist Oliver Mtukudzi whose appearance at the festival was announced with the release of the initial 21-musicians in November 2007.
“In line with the festival ethos of bringing under one roof varied musical styles, the music of the guitarists who will be at this year’s festival ranges from straight ahead jazz to more contemporary sounds. We are also pleased to have on the line-up the cream of Africa’s guitarists,” says festival director Rashid Lombard.
Ritenour’s appearance at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival on the March 28-29, 2008 is a follow-up to his first visit to South Africa in August 2005.
Talking about his experience in the country the 56-year old artist said, “I was more excited by the native African players and some of the most intoxicating percussion and rhythm guitar playing I’d ever heard. Over the years, I have become more attracted to African music, and this trip solidified that connection for me”.
Since his visit, Ritenour has recorded Smoke N’ Mirrors, a CD with tunes like “Capetown” and “Township”. Also featured in three songs on the album is South Africa’s vocalist Zamajobe. Ritenour heard the singer when watching television during his stay in South Africa.
Another second-time visitor to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is Benin’s Lionel Loueke. Now based in the US, Loueke appeared at the festival in 2006 as the member of the Terence Blanchard band. His guitar chords reflected levels of artistry not commensurate with his age. But it was his vocalising that brought the house down. This round, Loueke appears at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with his trio, Gilfema made up of the guitarist, Hungarian drummer/percussionist Ferenc Nemeth and bassist Massimo Biolcati who is of Italian descent although he grew up in Sweden. Loueke’s appearance at this year’s festival will happen a few days after the release of his debut album Karibu with Blue Note records. In addition to the two musicians that will share the stage with Loueke at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), the CD which is due in March hasWayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock as guests.
But not everything in the new line-up is about guitar strumming. The two other headliners are vibraphonist Mike Mainieri & Steps Ahead, Javon Jackson Super Band and Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer. There is also South Africa’s multi-instrumentalist Zim Ngqawana who leads his new Zimology Quartet and our own songstress Vicky Sampson who bounced back with her new album released in 2007. Although the composition of the group has changed over the years, Steps Ahead remains steeped in the jazz-fusion idiom that made the group popular in the 1970s and 1980s. Thanks to Mainieri whose association goes back to 1979 when the group was established. Another band that is a definite crowd-puller at this year’s festival is Javon Jackson Super Band. A graduate of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Jackson has his roots in hard bop. His recent albums have seen him producing interpretations of funk music stretching back to Cannonball Adderley and James Brown. A member of the Javon Jackson Super Band is John Coltrane’s drummer Jimmy Cobb. The 79-year old musician appeared at the festival in 2007 as a member of the Geri Allen Trio.
On the experimental side the new line-up is bountiful with different collaborations put up for the festival. One such collaboration is between South African drummer Kesivan Naidoo, Mozambican djembe and mbira-player Rolando Lamussene and two Swiss drummers;Peter Conradin Zumthor and Lucas Niggli. Having connected in 2007, the quartet which calls itself the Beat Bag Bohemia toured Switzerland and Germany in 2007. The band describes its music as a combination of influences from rock, jazz, African and contemporary music. A day before their performance at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the band will launch its CD as a celebration of their year-long collaboration.
The second collaboration is between a South African piano-bass-drum trio Offshore and trumpeter Marcus Wyatt. Saxophonist Buddy Wells will join the collaboration. Made up of Martin Wolfaardt on piano, Jonno Sweetman on percussion and Paul Gibbings on bass, Offshore has worked with New York-based saxophonist Sam Thomas and US guitarist and proponent of Thelonius Monk’s music, Gary Wittner. The band is also the rhythm section in Jonathan Crossley Electric Band’s 2007 recording Funk for the Shaolin Monk.
Another attractive collaboration for those who are into more youthful genres is that of Kolo Novo Movie Band. This is a Cape Town based group whose performances range from a small intimate trio to an explosive live stage act of 12 musicians. The band’s music has strong Eastern Europe inflections and fuses Balkan and Mediterranean styles of music.
But a real eye-opener will be an Indo-Jazz fusion band, Quartet Babu. The four Cape Town-based musicians combine jazz forms and harmonies with Indian ragas and talas to create pulsating music and energy-loaded impulses. Formed in 2006 when the Indian High Commission invited some of the members of the quartet to perform on India’s Independence Day, the starting point for the band are the Indian scales and beat cycles. Quartet Babu then builds on top of these scales and cycles, jazz idiosyncrasies, chords and rhythms.
The complete list of the musicians that were announced on February 12, 2008 is : a 51-year old close vocal harmony group African Inkspots (RSA), Beat Bag Bohemia(Mozambique/RSA/Switzerland), Bebop Guitars (US/RSA), Candy Dulfer (Netherlands), Darius and the UKZN Rolling Reunion Band (RSA), Javon Jackson Super Band featuring Jimmy Cobb, Jimmy Dludlu (RSA), Kolo Novo Movie Band (RSA), Kunle Ayo (Nigeria), Lee Ritenour (US), Lionel Loueke (Benin/US), Mike Mainieri & Steps Ahead (RSA), Offshore featuring Buddy Wells and Marcus Wyatt, Raul Midón (US), Quartet Babu, hip-hop group Skwatta Kamp (RSA), The Little Giants (RSA) youth band, rap group Timbuktu & Damn featuring Zoro (Sweden), vocalist Wanda Baloyi (RSA), Vicky Sampson (RSA) and Zimology Quartet (RSA).
This list of 21 adds to the initial list announced in November 2007: Ananda Project (US); Bongani Sotshononda Project (RSA); Gavin Minter with the Mother City Jazz Orchestra (RSA); Gerald Albright (US); Hiromi (Japan); Kenny Barron Trio (US); Lennart Åberg Band (Sweden) feat. Peter Erskine (US); Leslie Klein-Smith & Mother City Groove (RSA); Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe); Sérgio Mendes (Brazil/US), Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band (RSA); The Bays (US); Najee (US); The Big Idea (RSA); The Four Sounds feat Zelda Benjamin & Phyllis Madikwa (RSA); The Manhattans feat. Gerald Alston & Blue Lovett (US); The Soul Brother (RSA); Tierney Sutton (US); Tutu Puoane (RSA/Belgium); and Zola (RSA).
Ticket prices for the 2008 Festival are: single day passes cost ZAR299.00 and full weekend passes ZAR440.00. As in previous years, there is an extra fee of ZAR25 for patrons wishing to attend concerts on the Rosies stage. Tickets are available from Computicket.