Pure Joy at African Jazz Fest

It was a celebration of African Jazz last week, with thousands braving the Johannesburg chill to take part in the musical dance of soul and heritage.

Jazz, unlike rock, reggae and RnB is celebrated differently. Though it has the main components of singer, drum, guitar, bass, piano/keyboard and the celebrated trumpets, there is – I found – much much more to it.

Jazz is one of the hardest musical genres to classify, because it has a soul that borrows from the old, incorporates the new and tries to involve everyone in the process, especially the audience.

Musicians don’t only play to the audience, they show love by expertly handling the various instruments they play and invite all jazz lovers to join in the party – I am confident that that is where the term ‘joy of jazz’ came from.

In the 12th edition of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz from August 25-27 that was visited by the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Alexander O Neal, the uncanny strength and character of African Jazz stood out significantly.

The drumming, the dancing, the outfits, the cries of joy and the clapping of hands resonated in the audience from across the continent and beyond. It was very clearly Jazz, made in Africa and the artists from ‘across the sea’ were merely the cherry on top.

Before any of those great names took to the stage, the crowds were already going wild, jazzing it up with the uber spiritual Tu Nokwe, the humble Olufemi, the soulful Simphiwe Dana and newbies Take Note, among dozens others.

Spectators braved the chill and cruel August wind to move from tent to tent in Newtown, to sample the different African jazz flavours.

Organisers were wise enough to put some space between the legendary Hugh Masekela, South Africa’s Ringo and Zimbabwean genius Oliver Mtukudzi.

Kenyan beauty queen Bidanya Barassa was among the Kenyan jazz enthusiasts in attendance and she seemed not to be feeling the cold.

“It’s fantastic! I have seen everyone and had a good time! I was a bit disappointed by Nigeria’s Olufemi but oh well,” she told Capital Lifestyle.

It turns out Olufemi’s band was stuck in traffic and made it to the venue just a little too late, hence the mishap. Take a look at the pictures below to see what went down.


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