This past week-end has indeed been a highlight for South African music across the board of so many genres. One, especially big highlight has been the revered and well loved Cape Town International Jazz Festival. I was up for and attended the whole caboodle of events that revolved around the week-end over the Friday and Saturday. We had a full day of press conferences from early Friday morning to late noon and the same with the Saturday. On top of getting to rub shoulders and chat to some of the world’s most iconic Jazz musicians, such as 50′s American Blues pioneer, Ron Carter, and his younger apprentices Donald Harrison and Lenny White. On that list also Third World, Marcus Miller, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela, James Ingram and newby on the scene Zahara. I also attended the performances on the evening of the festival. This meant scurrying from one stage floor to the next, pulling myself away from each enjoyable performance to the next in order to be sure to catch as many as I can.
Delight overload! Friday night, on Kippies, the main stage, we were wonderfully and almost now traditionally entertained by platinum selling saxophonist, Dave Koz, who South Africans just adore. After him we had Mozambican saxophone legend, Moreira lifting it to a truly African pulse with his skills on the big horn. Then the man who most of us grew up listening to as children (thanks to our Jazz loving parents) James Ingram, sang with the light and all too familiar heartfelt emotion that we all know so well, he was joined by none other than Patti Austin, overwhelming the audience and taking most of us down memory lane.
In between these mind blowing eye-wetting performances I made my way to the Bassline, Hip Hop floor, where I got to see in action none other than New York Underground sublimely talented, intelligent lyricist, Jean Grae. Her powerful presence and contagious attitude made me feel like I had stepped up my gangster just by seeing her live, we loved every second of her wordplay with the only mishap being the wind blowing the back net of the stage in, nearly knocking down her drummer and his drum-set during an intense song (that she later told me was deeply personal and that, that was the first time she had performed it in a very long time). Saturday night, was set to be another biggy. On the Kippies stage, Bass legend Marcus Miller warmed up for our own trumpet lovely, Hugh Masekela who performed along with Zolani from Freshlyground, Thandiswa from Bongomaffin and his good friend Vusi Mahlesela. This was a beautiful tribute to the late Miriam Makeba in honour of her memory and contribution to the recognition of African music abroad.
Truly inspiring, watching these SA greats all on one stage along with the USA greats! I managed to catch a few of Zahara’s songs on the Basil ‘Mannenberg’ Coetzee stage, and yes she is everything her fans have been saying she is and more, an African girl with the purity and love for people that authentic honest music demands. The Jazz Trio, Ron Carter, Donald Harrison and Lenny White played a wonderful set of rhythmic and authentic quality Jazz the way only pioneers in the field know how. Probably, the only disappointment entertainment wise was the unexpectedly poor performance delivery from Miss Lauryn Hill and her band, whose sound was set so loud, the audience had to yell in unison that they couldn’t hear her. Terrible. A big Hill fan myself, I was largely disappointed. Because I had waited forty minutes for Lauryn Hill to come on stage, which was more than fashionably late, after watching her shriek through ‘Killing me softly’ and ‘Zion’ I couldn’t take much more and left with my head down after she threw what looked like a tantrum and walked off stage, obviously annoyed by her band’s bad stage set-up; only to return as I walked away when I looked over my shoulder. For this, I missed Third World but managed to catch the last twenty minutes of Pharoahe Monch‘s high energy set back at the Bassline stage. All true Cape Town Hip Hop fans were in accordance wilding out to his upbeat and on-point delivery. We loved it. That is my experience in a neat concise nutshell. Check out our photos to see for yourself what Jazz Festival looked like.