The 2019 Standard Bank Jazz Festival is running from 27 June – 7 July. This festival boasts plenty of diverse players from across the world coming together for this purpose.
It’s held in Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown). It’s one of the few festivals in the country that has always encouraged the idea of collaborations. The festival gives local artists a platform to play with international like-minded musicians. It’s the 32nd year that this festival will be running.
One of the main annual highlights of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival is the anticipation around exciting collaborations. There is certainly no shortage of collaborations at this year’s festival.
Amandla Freedom Ensemble – Born To Be Black: A Celebration of the Conscious Soul
This is presented by award-winner for jazz, trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni. It’s a super-band of nine musicians skilled in the art of improvisation, intended to be an ‘odyssey of musical meditation and healing’.
Mlangeni’s peers form the foundation of the group, helped along by respected mentors drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo, saxophonist Salim Washingtonand pianist Andile Yenana.
Chinese acclaimed composer and vocalist Coca Zhao
Zhao’s sound connects the unique cross-section between Chinese traditional music, Western classical music and jazz. He will be presenting compositions from his ‘Dream Situation’ album. It’s a project of re-arranged 1920 – 1930’s traditional Shanghai songs reworked into a contemporary jazz framework.
He’s doing this with the help of his touring pianist Huang Juanyi. Joining him is special guest vocalist Asanda Mqiki, bassist Romy Brauteseth and saxophonist Mthunzi Mvubu.
Jeff “Siege” Siegel
The New York drummer is looking to draw connections between American jazz and its African roots. He has played with Ron Carter, Kenny Burrell and Ravi Coltrane and will bring his Sextet to our shores with his latest project.
King of the Xhosa is intended to celebrate these roots and exchanges that have shaped the jazz tradition. Joining him is iconic South African trumpeter Feya Faku to respond and add to this conversation.
SAMA award-winning 17-piece ZAR Jazz Orchestra
The orchestra was founded and directed by trumpeter Marcus Wyatt. It brings together some of the best jazz players across the country. Wyatt is no stranger to the big ensemble format. He has chosen these top musicians who weave in elements of traditional South African jazz with contemporary approaches.
Among them are saxophonist Sisonke Xonti, pianist Bokani Dyer, drummer Marlon Witbooi and Swiss trombonist Andreas Tschopp (Skyjack).
An annual signature feature of the festival is the Big Band
This is an all-star collaboration between local and international musicians. They are conducted by a different musician each year. This year showcases the Funk Big Band, presented by Swedish jazz legend, trombonist and composer Nils Landgren.
He has been invited to the 2019 Standard Bank Jazz Festival to perform for over a decade. His accolades include being featured on over 500 recordings. The mega 18-piece band includes saxophonist Shannon Mowday, bassist Shaun Johannes and Swedish trumpeter Fredrik Noren.
Expanding to the rest of Africa, there’s Nairobi Horns
This is a project that brings together musicians committed to building a sound around horns in African and contemporary music.
Initially conceived off as a commercial horn section working on TV shows, the group has since grown into a live act inspired by jazz roots blending Kenyan folk with popular influences.
The festival’s performance combines the four Kenyans with a strong rhythm section from South Africa, including local drummer Sphelelo Mazibuko.
Brazilian maestro pianist / accordionist, Guilherme Ribeiro and Dutch bassist Hein van de Geyn
They will join forces with Cape Town-based acoustic duo Facing South which features guitarist David Ledbetter and vocalist Amanda Tiffin.
The quartet will perform selections of original material with compositions from all members included. These will feature on an upcoming album release, recorded in Cape Town.
Master musician Susanna Stivali
She’s one of the best known Italian jazz singers of her generation. Aside from being an incredible vocalist, Stivali is also the artistic director of the Incontri Jazz Festival. This festival is held in different archaeological locations across the centre of Italy.
Her festival performance selects compositions from Italy, Brazil, America and South Africa, and features saxophonist Mike Rossi on sax among others.
For those keen on continuing late-night listening, the Standard Bank Jazz & Blues Café hosts many of the local and international musicians featured at the festival for collaborative performances and jam sessions to wrap up the daily performances.
Makhanda is experiencing is experiencing a drought
Festival-goers have an opportunity to contribute by helping to secure water tanks for the Amanzi Yimpilo Project. Standard Bank has committed to support the project based in Makhanda, which looks after Day Care Centres and is responsible for roughly 1200 children from newborns up to 5-years-old.
The campaign is seeking donations from the public. Their aim is to provide a sustainable source of clean water for drinking, basic hygiene (washing hands and brushing teeth) and cooking. #SnapforWater to keep the water flowing in Makhanda.
Standard Bank Jazz Festival Ticketing Info
Jazz lovers can get their tickets on the National Arts Festival website. Standard Bank card holders qualify for a 20% discount subject to terms and conditions. For more info and to book visit this link. Stay up to date with what’s going down at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival by connecting with Standard Bank Arts via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
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