Grooving with Standard Bank Jazz FestivalThe Famous Idea Trading Company
The Standard Bank Jazz Festival takes place alongside the 38th National Arts Festival, from 28 June to 8 July 2012, in Grahamstown.
This year the programme is developed around six distinct genres of Jazz. The themes are Youth, World Music / Gospel, Cross-over Jazz, Afro-Jazz, Mainstream Jazz and Modern Jazz.
The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival (SBNYJF) celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2012 with a suitably powerful line-up of musicians and teachers, gathered to perform for the audiences of the National Arts Festival, but also to inspire the 350 young South African jazz players gathered in Grahamstown – our national jazz future. The Festival celebrates two decades of jazz development with a blow-out performance of some of those who have been teaching and performing at the NYJF, putting together some of Europe’s leading performers with young South African talent in the Youth genre.
The World Music / Gospel genre is ushered in by the legendary Mango Groove, who has helped pioneer the course of South African music for over 25 years, enjoyed twelve Number 1 hits, performed to an estimated audience of a billion people via direct satellite link-up, and received every conceivable South African music and video award.
Known as South Africa’s “King of R&B”, the multi-awarded Loyiso Bala has broadened his musical horizons to focus on Gospel with his recent CD release. He is able to carry audiences through a musical kaleidoscope with his stage performances, and creates an astonishing blend of Jazz, Classical, Gospel, R&B, Soul and traditional South African music.
Hassan’adas epitomises the exoticism of World Music, blending original African rhythms and sounds with eclectic influences from musicians around the globe. Under Mozambiquan leader John Hassan the band produces a captivating collection of polyrhythms, sound textures, and musical colours to make it nearly impossible to stay in your seat and not start dancing!
With smooth and enchanting melodies and a beautiful fusion of Gospel, Jazz and R&B, Durban songbird Natalie Rungan compels listeners to relax, unwind and reconnect with the harmonious soul of music. Having performed on top international jazz and world-music stages, garnered a host of awards, and released her own albums, Natalie’s musical experience has earned her a place amongst South Africa’s greats. She performs with a band of exceptional musicality to create a sound described as “pure sunlight”.
Every once in a while a musician emerges who is able to surpass the limitations of traditional musical approaches to create a sound of transcendent musical feel and emotion. Steel pan player Andy Narell is one such musician. Never satisfied with the musical status quo, Narell continuously pushes the boundaries of musical innovation and performance. Here he presents a fascinating collaboration of steel pan fused with World Music and Jazz.
In the Cross-over Jazz genre, few artists can boast a résumé like Sibongile Khumalo’s. After winning the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 1993, she has walked away with every major music award in South Africa. Able to bridge musical genres - Jazz, Opera, World, Traditional, Township - while making each her own, she has a voice immediately recognisable and always unique. Catch her once-off unforgettable performance filled with a thrilling string quartet and choir, poetry and narration.
In what promises to be one of the most innovative performances in Grahamstown this year, French pianist and composer Carine Bonnefoy showcases some of the compositions which have earned her a reputation as one of Europe’s leading composers and arrangers in Jazz, Classical and Nu-Music. Her stunning recordings with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra under Vince Mendoza and the German WDR Big Band have received significant critical attention and she brings a beautiful mini-orchestra of strings, brass rhythm section in what is a vibrant collaboration between France and South Africa.
Afrikaans rapper Jitsvinger from the Cape Flats is making musical waves across South Africa and abroad. With his cutting-edge, socially-relevant, and wonderfully mischievous lyrics Jitsvinger manages either to mesmerise audiences into deep thought or induce roaring laughter. Here he teams up with one of South Africa’s most successful young musicians, Kyle Shepherd, and a great rhythm section, for a fascinating home-grown mix of Jazz and Hip-hop.
Cape Town master percussionist Ronan Skillen spent time last year on a ProHelvetia artist residency in Switzerland where he collaborated widely with Swiss musicians. One of the most interesting to emerge was this trio, which is a mix of World Music, Jazz and Electro with vocals, accordion, bass clarinet, tabla, hybrid drumkit, percussion, didgeridoo and effects. The evocative voice of Nadja Stoller weaves between the percussive and harmonic sound textures created by her partners.
In the Afro-Jazz genre, meet the man who has played sax with Herbie Hancock, Chris McGregor and Bill Clinton, recorded on both Abdullah Ibrahim’s iconic ‘Mannenburg’ album and Paul Simon’s Grammy-winning ‘Graceland’ album, and is constantly called upon to play private concerts for the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Mohammed Ali. Morris Goldberg oozes appeal and panache and, playing his own unique celebration of South African jazz - 'Safrojazz' - his music contains infectious grooves, humming melodies, and is presented with an appealing stage presence. He performs here with a star-studded band of South African musicians who have made their names in New York over the past two decades - pianist Rashid Lanie, renowned bassist Bakithi Kumalo, and drummer Anton Fig, made famous by his 26 years on the Late-Night Show with David Letterman as well as performances with Miles Davis, Madonna and Eric Clapton.
Take a slice of opera, mix it with a portion of South African Township, and add a pinch of Jazz, R&B and Afrikaner hymns, and what do you get? The uniquely charming Bala Brothers, of course! Having trained at the famous Drakensburg Choir School for Boys, brothers Zwai and Loyiso Bala make up this multi-award winning duo.
From a young age Ernie Smith sought to find his own unique voice and sound and his quest has led him to a host of top awards since his first album in 2003, including three SAMA awards (‘Best New Comer’, ‘Best Adult Contemporary Album’ and ‘Best Jazz Adult Contemporary Album’), one KORA award (‘Most Promising Male in Africa’), and a METRO award (‘Best Jazz Artist’). Enjoy his rich vocal texture, combined with exciting musical arrangements, as he celebrates life, love and the free spirit of music.
With nearly two decades of experience playing South African jazz, Queenstown-born Mlungisi Gegana has carved out a successful career on the upright bass with performances on the big jazz stages of South Africa and with many of its top exponents. Having composed, arranged, performed and produced his own album, Mlungisi delivers a style of Afro-Jazz that’s “difficult to classify, but a pleasure to enjoy”.
In the Mainstream Jazz genre, Double Standards features the unique fusion of two of Cape Town's finest piano trios, playing alongside each other to create a performance that lends itself to the experimentation that is the hallmark of Grahamstown.
Dutch/Belgian pianist Jack van Poll spent many years in South Africa and returns briefly for a special performance with two musical equals, paying homage to one of the most admired pianists in jazz, Oscar Peterson. Playing a selection of Petersen’s works and jazz standards the trio reflects the technical brilliance and melodic inventiveness for which Petersen was renowned.
Vivacious young vocalist Nicky Schrire graduated from UCT and has been studying at the Manhattan School of Music in New York where she has been working with a range of musicians. She returns to Grahamstown with a top-class international band whose collaborative credits range from Bob Mintzer, Joe Lovano, Britney Spears and Dave Brubeck to the Modern Balkan Jazz Orchestra. Catch these young players who have gravitated to New York from around the world to be part of the wave of Jazz for the future.
The curvaceous form and sonorous voice of the double bass have bewitched musicians and audiences for centuries. The upright bass is the true centre of a jazz band – the foundation of all harmonic and rhythmic developments from which the other instruments in the ensemble draw. Two of Europe’s leading exponents of the instrument Hein van de Geyn and Martin Sjöstedt, pay special tribute to the beauty of the instrument, and they draw from the ranks of the musicians gathered in Grahamstown to guest with them. Maybe even a third double bass …
Five excellent musicians from five different countries and backgrounds presenting a collection of jazz standards interpreted in their own original and captivating way: Mro Fox (sax - DE), Fredrik Noren (trumpet - SE), Jason Reolon (piano - SA), tbc (bass - NL), Jakop Hauan (drums - NO).
Dutch/Belgian pianist Jack van Poll has spent well over half a century as a professional musician, watching the genre of Jazz evolving and being a central part of that development. He has worked with Jazz greats like Ben Webster, Don Byas, Dizzy Gillespie, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Johnny Griffin, Clark Terry, Red Mitchell and Ed Thigpen and has performed and recorded around the world. He presents a solo performance combined with fascinating anecdotes about those relationships and other stories.
The Modern Jazz genre is headed up by Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2012, Afrika Mkhize, who represents the exciting new face of South African jazz. Steeped in South Africa’s musical heritage he displays a fresh, international perspective that places South African jazz in a new light. He is a pianist with serious jazz chops who has the versatility to play music from across the spectrum, from African grooves to hip-hop to straight-ahead jazz, and in any company. For his first Young Artist performance, showcasing his own compositions, he has chosen a band of young Turks from across the country and adds a special guest, flautist Eddie Parker, who is a significant voice in British Jazz. For his second Young Artist gig he brings together a vibrant group of young musicians from Johannesburg to pay tribute to the compositions of Bheki Mseleku and other influential African composers. Eddie Parker was central to the bands of Bheki Mseleku and his flute solo on “Angola” is well known to South African Jazz connoisseurs.
Fiery drummer Kesivan Naidoo received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz in 2009 and his feature performance that year – “The Lights” – showcased a powerhouse combination of international musicians. Since then he has recorded with the group and performed at festivals around South Africa and Europe, raising the musical temperature wherever he plays. He returns to Grahamstown with a slightly amended line-up that features some of the most exciting musicians in South Africa and Scandinavia.
Acclaimed Parisian pianist Carine Bonnefoy returns to Grahamstown, this time with her own quartet. Those who heard her in collaboration last year will have marvelled at the sensitivity of her playing and the complex depth of her compositions. While Bonnefoy’s ancestry lies in Tahiti, she embraces a range of musical trends and has worked with African, European and Caribbean musicians.
Benjamin Herman won not only the VPRO/Boy Edgar Prize – the national award for most promising Dutch jazz musician – but also the 2008 Prize for Best Dressed Dutch Man! How can he not be the funkiest jazz musician around!? Since 1994 he has led the very popular – and extremely hip – Dutch band The New Cool Collective that has performed their version of Funk and Jazz around the world. His quartet melds four unusual musical talents into an energetic, unique blend of jazz styles.
The irrepressible poly-instrumentalist from Paris, Braka, presents a concert based on French ballroom repertoire from the 1950s. Compositions, valses musettes, paso doble, old French songs and jazz standards are freshly remixed by these four crazy improvisers whose influences span marching bands, street theatre, free improvisation, circus music and everything in between. Their inventiveness extends to their instruments, many of which they make themselves.
Martin Sjöstedt is the regular bassist for the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra and has played with Joe Lovano, Joey Calderazzo, Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer and Maria Schneider among other well-known international artists. He has participated in over thirty recordings and has established a reputation as one of Europe’s leading bass players. This time, though, he appears in Grahamstown as a pianist, leading his own quartet that includes a man his equal on bass and the big tenor sax sound of one of the most unique jazz voices in Europe.
Top Norwegian saxophonist Morten Halle has worked with South African pianist Andre Petersen for years, performing regularly together in their respective countries. Halle’s music has been strongly influenced by the Norwegian avante gard and minimalism, but this is offset by the undeniably South African flavour of Petersen’s piano style, producing a genuinely collaborative product that defies categorisation.
The music of German saxophonist Mro Fox reflects a deep global musical experience echoing his years spent in Europe, India, China and, increasingly, Africa. Tonight he meets one of South Africa’s most cosmopolitan of horn players, backed by a killer rhythm section of young South African lions and a highly-experienced Swede on bass.
The Youth category boasts young performers from around the country as well as youth musicians from Sweden and France, a Big Band of South African and Swedish youth, the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band, conducted by pianist Paul Hanmer, the Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band, conducted by James Bassingthwaighte, and a host of other performances.
For more information check www.standardbankarts.co.za or www.youthjazz.co.za
The Standard Bank Jazz Festival is presented with support funding from:
* The French Institute / French-South African Season
* Paul Bothner Music
* Royal Netherlands Embassy
* Royal Norwegian Embassy
* Swedish Arts Council / Scenkonstbolaget
* US Consulate General
Bookings for this year’s “11 Days of Amaz!ng” open in May. Tickets are available through Computicket. Booking kits available from selected Standard Bank Branches, selected Exclusive Books and all Computickets. For more information on the programme, accommodation and travel options visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za. Also join the National Arts Festival group on Facebook for all the latest competitions and news, or follow us on Twitter.
The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, City Press and M Net. Ends About the National Arts Festival: The National Arts Festival, now in its 38th year, has proved its sustainability and has grown to be one of the leading arts festivals in southern Africa. Its objectives are to deliver excellence; encourage innovation and development in the arts by providing a platform for both established and emerging South African artists; create opportunities for collaboration with international artists; and build new audiences.
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Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown
Web site: http://www.standardbankarts.co.za