The 10th Cape Town International Jazz Festival, that takes place April 3-4, 2009, has released its preliminary line up of musicians. Among those to perform are South Africans Emily Bruce, Freshlyground , Hugh Masekela, Jonathan Rubain, Ringo Madlingozi, Maurice Gawronsky, Loading Zone, and Rus Nerwich’s collective imagination, Americans Al Foster Quartet, Dave Liebman Group, Dianne Reeves, Maceo Parker, Kyle Eastwood, New York Voices, and The Stylistics, and Spanish Arturo Lledo. Others are British Incognito, and Peter White, and Europe-based Africans, Zap Mama. OGOVA ONDEGO reports.
The CTIJF, that has over the years become an important event in the world jazz calendar, was in June 2006 ranked 13th out of the top 100 music festivals of all genres in the world by Melodytrip that also gave it 4th position in international jazz festivals.
“It’s not been easy but our winning formula has many elements. Our vision is to present something that is more than a music event,” festival director Rashid Lombar told the Press in Cape Town. “The presentation on five stages over two days of 40 bands equally split between African and overseas artists has given festival-goers so much choice. But more importantly what has carried us through is the relationship that we establish with musicians, managers, booking agents, audiences and our sponsors.”
Helen Zille, the mayor of Cape Town, says of CTIJF: “This event has raised the global profile of Cape Town, helping to build our reputation as an attractive destination and a centre of cultural excellence in Africa and the world. Our city’s tourism and hospitality industries are indebted to the festival for bringing in larger numbers of national and international visitors than virtually any other event in the city.”
Indeed statistics by the Centre for Tourism Research in Africa indicate that more than half of the audience that attended the festival in 2007 came from outside South Africa.
Though marketed as a jazz event, CTIJF offers many more genres of music: Afro-pop, soul, funk, blues, Latin and hip-hop.
Among those expected to headline the 10th CTIJF are award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, jazz-funk king Maceo Parker and smooth jazz guitarist Peter White. Legendary South African trumpeter, Hugh Masekela, too, is expected to join the three as part of his 70th birthday celebrations.
“Those who prefer straight-ahead jazz sounds ,” the festival media release says, “can look forward to John Coltrane’s disciple Dave Liebman, Miles Davis’ drummer Al Foster, a cappella group called New York Voices, local veteran drummer Maurice Gawronsky Quartet and Clint Eastwood bassist son Kyle Eastwood.”
The CTIJF organisers says, “one of the trademarks of our festival is to honour groups that display longevity as well as young African musicians who are making it big internationally.”
Those to be honoured in 2009 for their staying power are The Stylistics whose sound goes back to 1968; acid-jazz group Incognito; and Loading Zone, a Cape Town-based group that celebrates 20 years of existence in 2009.
“As for bands who currently hold the African flag high, we have a cappella quintet Zap Mama, South African master balladeer Ringo Madlingozi, indomitable Freshlyground and Rus Nerwich’s collective imagination,” CTIJF says.
To attend the event, single day passes will cost ZAR330 and full weekend passes will go for ZAR485 per person.
Below are the brief biographies, in alphabetical order, of the initial line-up of artists as released by CTIJF publicists, T-N-T:
Al Foster Quartet: When Jack De Johnette left the Miles Davis band in 1972, Al Foster replaced him. This association continued until Miles’ death in 1991. These days, Foster leads his own quartet. His 2008 album Love, Peace and Jazz displays the perceptive drumming that blew Miles thirty-six years ago.
Arturo Lledo: Spanish guitarist who spent 14 of his formative years as a musician in Brazil. His familiarity with both Spanish and Brazilian music makes him capable to play anything from beautiful boleros to samba and bossa nova.
Dave Liebman Group: As a disciple of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Liebman appreciates the value of having a working band to express one’s musical feelings. Since 1991, the 62-year old saxophonist has played with guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Marko Marcinko. The group’s recordings mirror Liebman’s varied musical idioms and the band’s abundant energy.
Dianne Reeves: Dianne Reeves is the only vocalist to win Grammy Awards in the Best Jazz Vocal Performance category for three consecutive recordings. She scooped these for her 2001 In the Moment, 2002 The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughn and 2003 A Little Moonlight. No wonder that she is regarded as the premier vocalist in the world today.
Emily Bruce: Cape Town-based vocalist Emily Bruce is taking the local jazz scene by storm. Her March 2007 debut album This Love We Share was well-received. In her short career, the singer who graduated from the University of Cape Town where she studied music, has lived and performed in Turkey and Dubai.
Freshlyground: The seven-member outfit has come to represent what the new South Africa is all about. Not only is the band cosmopolitan in composition of its members, Freshlyground fuses various musical styles lacing familiar instruments like drums, keyboard, guitar and saxophone with sounds of violin and mbira.
Hugh Masekela: Few local musicians do as Masekela does in taking South African music to the rest of the world. A member of the first jazz band to record an LP, Masekela consciously decided to focus during his exile on familiarising foreign audiences to local sounds. Since his return, this mission has not stopped. The 69-year old trumpeter travels and performance all over the world.
Incognito: Since the release of its debut album Jazz Funk in 1981, the band Incognito has remained on the cutting edge of dance music. Formed in the era of disco and funk, the group evolved and was in the forefront of acid jazz in the 1990s. The group’s latest CD Tales from the Beach was recorded in three countries; a testimony to the multiculturalism of the band.
Jonathan Rubain: Jonathan Rubain is another gem to come out of the Cape Flats. Starting with drums and lead guitar, Rubain fell in love with the sound of the bass at the age of 15. Now at the age of 24, he leads his a band that plays sounds that the bassist grew up listening to such as ghoema, jazz and church music.
Kyle Eastwood : Film star Clint Eastwood has transmitted his love of jazz to his bassist son, Kyle. In addition to producing three albums as a bandleader, Kyle has contributed film scores for movies such as The Rookie, Mystic River and Flags for our Fathers. In 2006, he was also nominated by the Chicago Film Critics Association for the original score for Letters from Iwo Jima.
Loading Zone: Few bands can claim to have backed legendaries such as Miriam Makeba, Papa Wemba and Brenda Fassie. Loading Zone can. Formed in Johannesburg in 1989, the energetic group is a platform for fuse jazz South African, Mozambican and Brazilian rhythms. The core of the band hails from these three countries
Maceo Parker: Besides his work as a sideman of James Brown and Ray Charles, the saxophonist is known in these shores for his solo album Roots Revisited. Although released in the early 1990s, Parker’s fusion of soul and funk has made the album the anthem of many jazz stokvels in South Africa.
Maurice Gawronsky Quartet: Born in Cape Town in 1937, Gawronsky is one of South Africa’s most accomplished drummers. In a career that spans more than 50-years, the drummer who is known for his propulsive beats has played with the cream of the local jazz scene. Earlier in his career, Gawronsky was based in Europe where he performed with Don Byas, Oscar Pettiford and Stan Getz.
New York Voices: Together with groups such as the Manhattan Transfer and Take 6, the New York Voices are heirs of doo-wop and Barbershop music that was popular in the 1950s. Like all a cappella groups they are a small ensemble that produces music without instrumental backing.
Peter White: Peter White describes himself as a smooth jazz guitarist. After he played with Al Stewart and singer Basia, White switched to jazz in the 1990s. Since then he has played and performed with people like Bob James, Jeffrey Osborne and our own Jonathan Butler. His vamps and guitar-picking are phenomenal.
Ringo Madlingozi: South Africa’s master balladeer sings about issues around him; love, abuse, kindness and forgiveness. Since his 1996 debut album, Madlingozi who sings mainly in IsiXhosa has garnered support here and abroad. He has won numerous awards and the majority of his African pop records have reached platinum status.
Rus Nerwich ” and the collective imagination: One of the country’s innovative musician, Nerwich’s first three recordings were jazz albums. Recently, the Cape Town saxophonist has worked with Congolese musicians who are refugees in South Africa. He is also experimenting with fusion of jazz and hip-hop.
The Stylistics: For more than 40-years, the Stylistics together with the O’Jays and Spinners have been the vanguard of a musical style known as Philadelphia. Rooted in soul music and using choreographed dance moves, the four male vocalists have belted out hits such as “You Are Everything” and “People Make the World Go Around”; that remain popular in local “quiet storm” radio programmes.
Zap Mama: The a cappella group was established in 1990 by five women of African descent. Based in Europe, the quintet was eager to find a vehicle for cultural preservation. With six albums under their belts, the five musicians have demonstrated how the use of voice without instrumental accompaniment is an omnipresent practice in Africa.