Capeto­ni­ans groove to a stel­lar line-up

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Ev­ery year be­fore the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val starts, there is a teaser called the Free Com­mu­nity Con­cert. A fore­taste of the fes­ti­val, it com­prises per­for­mances by some of the world-class artists, at no charge to the public.

This year’s prefes­ti­val con­cert took place on Wed­nes­day, and the mu­sos more than de­liv­ered.

They trans­formed Green­mar­ket Square from a mar­ket into a haven of beau­ti­ful sounds as peo­ple im­bibed jazz in a har­mo­nious at­mos­phere – mark­ing a wel­come change to the dra­matic events of the week. The au­di­ence, made up of thou­sands, com­prised a mix of young and old, tourists and lo­cals.

The open­ing act was the All Star Band, a de­vel­op­men­tal en­sem­ble com­pris­ing a group of learn­ers se­lected from dif­fer­ent schools that at­tended the Mu­sic and Ca­reer Work­shop Pro­gramme, an ini­tia­tive aimed at ex­pos­ing young mu­si­cians to big­ger plat­forms and broad­en­ing their un­der­stand­ing of the mu­sic in­dus­try. The nine-piece band, whose youngest mem­ber is 14 years old, was fa­cil­i­tated by sax­o­phon­ist Don­veno Prins and jazz pi­anist Camillo Lom­bard.

Also on stage was Danielle Ja­cobs, the 2017 win­ner of the SA Cloth­ing and Tex­tile Work­ers’ Union’s an­nual tal­ent con­test; VuDu, the nu-jazz col­lec­tive who won the 2017 es­pYoung Le­gends con­test, which was spear­headed in 2015 by es­pAfrika, or­gan­is­ers of the Cape Town jazz fest, to dis­cover new tal­ent; Mozam­bi­can sax­o­phon­ist Mor­eira Chonguica; and US R&B all-fe­male group En Vogue. A spirit of hu­man­ity blended with the soul­ful sounds. Next to me, Capeto­nian Solly Solomons gave up his seat to Yong Heekin, a Korean tourist vis­it­ing Cape Town for the first time and hap­pen­ing on Green­mar­ket. “I love African mu­sic and orig­i­nal jazz,” she en­thused.

The his­toric square was full of se­cu­rity per­son­nel. There was no rest for the homeless, who had to look “de­cent” to avoid be­ing thrown out of Green­mar­ket by the of­fi­cials.

Two large screens made it easy for the au­di­ence to en­joy the per­for­mances.

A high­light was Afro-pop band Mango Groove’s ren­di­tion of their clas­sic, Spe­cial Star. The au­di­ence sang along, and the dancers mov­ing to the kwela sounds on stage took us back to when we first heard the iconic song.

Now in its 18th year, the ac­tual fes­ti­val saw more than 40 in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal artists per­form over two days at the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

Fri­day’s line-up in­cluded bari­tone vo­cal­ist Tsepo Tshola; US sax­man Ka­masi Wash­ing­ton; Mango Groove; En Vogue; last year’s Stan­dard Bank Young Artist of the Year win­ner for jazz, Siya Makuzeni; US mu­sos Gretchen Par­lato and Tay­lor McFer­rin; VuDu; SA Mu­sic Award win­ner Tre­sor and the UK’s Tom Misch.

Satur­day’s line-up in­cluded UK soul singer Laura Mvula, Sky­jack, a band of five jazz mu­sos from South Africa and Switzer­land; the US’s An­dra Day, multi­genre duo The In­ter­net and Afro-jazz singer Than­diswa Mazwai.


AWE­SOME THREE­SOME The US-based R&B band En Vogue – namely, Rhona Ben­nett, Terry El­lis and Cindy Her­ron – light up the stage with their soul­ful sounds at Cape Town’s an­nual In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val

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