As jazz pioneers and iconoclastic rebels push beyond the edges of our sonic borders – never was there a better time for musicians to journey to the heart of jazz. espAfrika, the organiser of the country’s longest-running and best-loved jazz festival, once again pools together a potent line-up of cutting edge creators to ensure a blockbuster 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF). Festival Director Billy Domingo’s deft sound design skirts everything from hip hop to Ethio-jazz to Indo pop, Afro Cuban, bebop, R&B, hypnotic avant-funk and neo soul – all in pursuit of the world’s most celebrated jazz.
Speaking from the Vista Marina Restaurant in the V&A Waterfront on Tuesday afternoon, Billy Domingo, COO of espAfrika and Festival Director of CTIJF remarked: “This year we set out to create a strong programme in which every artist is a star. Rooted and inspired in jazz legacy with known favourites, but also with the excitement of discovering new material and artists that will blow fans away with their musical creativity.
“Together with our customary panel of music experts, I believe we have melded a cracking line-up that will appeal to exacting Festinos who join us every year to celebrate, but also to a newer and younger audience who are uncovering the delights of their own musical journeys through the CTIJF.”
The first artists announced for CTIJF 2018 are as follows:
South Africa’s multi-cultural headspace is increasingly being mirrored with bold new vistas that simultaneously introspect and expand our musical borders. Dr. Duda, J’Something and Mo-T. know how to swing an awesome party, and the Mi Casa (SA) trio return with soulful urban house grooves guaranteed to bring us together as one big Familia. Expect trademark highlights, like Nana, from their latest soul jazz release.
The Feya Faku Spirit Unit (SA) sees the trumpet legend making more space for duets and solo performances. Saxman Sisonke Xonti (SA) is set to impress with thoughtful lyricism drawn from the nuances of seminal reedmen like Ezra Ngcukana;
A soundtrack that will carry us forward as a nation – that’s the directive of Billy Monama: GrazRoots Project (SA), who revisit local classics in a celebration of mbaqanga and maskandi; Armed with her guitar and compelling voice, Belhar’s Claire Phillips (SA) delivers a forceful repertoire of funk, R&B and fusion; Jarrad Ricketts (SA) was crowned the espYoungLegend 2018 winner and the Cape-based singer will up the game with a dynamic pop showcase; Keenan Ahrends Quintet (SA) places the guitarist centre-stage as he airs his compositional approach to deeply toned ballads, local jazz and grungy rock.
Amanda Black’s (SA) balladry on her 14-track Amazulu release secured her platinum status three weeks after release. The sensational singer will show why she’s been dubbed ‘the new queen of ballads’; Nicky Schrire’s (SA) vocal work has drawn comparisons to Esperanza Spalding and Tori Amos. Her inventiveness has landed her spots with the likes of two Grammy-nominated pianists Gerald Clayton and Gil Goldstein; A familiar face on Cape stages, veteran entertainer Alistair Izobell (SA) has captivated audiences in musicals like Kat and the Kings – he’s guaranteed to stir up some dust as he unpacks a classic Cape party;
Sekunjalo Edujazz Band (SA) have been reeling in fans with their impressive interpretation of evergreen standards and local classics. Helmed by new director Kelly Bell, the ensemble’s varied playlist includes numerous memorable highlights; Bellville scholars from The Settlers High School Band (SA) are regular participants in the CTIJF Sustainable Training and Development Programme, and have also wowed at the CTIJF 2017 Music & Careers Live Performance – now they’re beyond excited to graduate to the main festival stage.
Originally from Soweto, prize-winning three-part a cappella group The Soil (SA) dazzle with a repertoire of township jazz, hip hop and Afro-pop. The trio’s beatboxing and polyphonic harmonies gel together as warm kasi-soul with subtle echoes of the kwaito of Mandoza and Zola; MABUTA (SA) is award-winning double bassist Shane Cooper’s latest and much-anticipated quintet. The Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz builds on his moniker as electronic producer Card On Spokes, now assembling sidemen Bokani Dyer on piano and synths, Sisonke Xonti tenor sax, Robin Fassie-Kock trumpet and Marlon Witbooi on drums; Louis Moholo-Moholo presents 5 Blokes 1 Doll (SA) – The only surviving member of The Blue Notes, Moholo-Moholo’s intense stick work continues to inspire. A long, illustrious career has seen him work with everybody from Evan Parker to Keith Tippett, and once again he’ll add his avant-garde flair to 5 Blokes 1 Doll.
Corinne Bailey Rae (UK), dubbed the British queen of soul, is a contemporary R&B song-writer who has secured multiple Top Ten UK and US releases. She’s also stacked up an array of Grammy and MOBO Awards. Dedicated fans will be able to imbibe her meditative indie rock and folky neo soul tracks.
Best known as the father of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke (Ethiopia) is recognised for his unique blend of traditional Ethiopian music, Western jazz and Latin rhythms. The musician/arranger’s captivating sounds which lead with vibraphone and congas have seen his songs sampled by hip artists like Nas, Damian Marley, Kanye West and K’naan – who aptly summarise the man’s contemporary reach.
Vijay Iyer Sextet (USA) – Vijay was voted 2014 Pianist of the Year and 2015 Jazz Artist of the Year in the Down Beat International Jazz Critics Poll. As a piano player, his lineage descends through Ellington, Monk, Randy Weston, Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner and Alice Coltrane, this jazz pianist, electronic musician, and writer is a hot item in New York City where he’s based.
Seu Jorge presents the Life Aquatic/ A Tribute to David Bowie (Brazil). Jorge hooked onto the Ziggy Stardust alter ego after Wes Anderson cast him in his 2004 film The Life Aquatic. He sings Bowie’s covers in Portuguese, with only an acoustic guitar for accompaniment.
With his move to the Ninja Tune label, Jordan Rakei’s (NZ) soulful, jazzy hip hop palette has settled into a grander sound on his second LP, Wallflower. The 25-year old’s balladry and mid-tempo grooves are shaped by his skills as multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer.
Blinky Bill & Sibot’s Afrofunk Spaceship (SA/Kenya) unites Kenyan musician, producer and DJ “Blinky” Bill Sellanga with Sibot, a veteran of the South African electro music scene. Sellanga fronted the Just A Band, a collective who created self-described “super-nerdy,” music which embraced hip hop, electronica and funk — all with an African inflection. Combined with Sibot’s love of performance, this collab promises a playful mish-mash of jet-fuelled electronica.
Trombone Shorty (USA), aka Troy Andrews, is best known as a trombone and trumpet player, but also stretches out on drums, organ and tuba. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in rock, pop, jazz, funk, and hip hop and this year Blue Note Records announced the label had signed Trombone Shorty for his Blue Note debut – Parking Lot Symphony, which dropped in April 2017.
The Louiz Banks Quartet (India) brings the weight of Indi pop, progressive jazz and Indo jazz fusion to the bandstand. Dubbed ‘The Godfather of Indian Jazz’, Banks was an early member of Weather Report, later performing with John McLaughlin, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pam Crain, Ramamani, and Dizzy Gillespie. His 2008 collab as co-producer, arranger and pianist/keyboards on Miles from India, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category.
Vocalist, upright bassist, composer and arranger Miles Mosley (USA) was named after Miles Davis. This Hollywood producer is respected for his out-the-box approach, which sees him use effects pedals and a bow on his upright for his forward leaning solo projects, embracing jazz, soul, funk and rock; Trumpeter Nicholas Payton: Afro-Caribbean Mixtape (USA) digs deep as he fuses traditions from his hometown New Orleans with modern jazz, hip hop, mixtape and spoken-word. His playing is steeped in trad jazz, but he frequently flies free in search of new terrain. Bebop, swing, The Great American Songbook, R&B, plus dialects from Central America and the Caribbean.
Together with Swiss colleagues from The Umgidi Trio, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini recorded an 11-track album in Switzerland in 2016. This Inner Dimensions Collective (SA/Swiss) plumbs ancestral depths using chordal deconstruction reminiscent of early South African jazz styles from the Sophiatown era. Their specific dimensions span contemporary gospel and jazz choral, funky liturgical, indigenous African chants and free flow improvisation. The ensemble scooped a 2017 SAMA Award.
R+R=NOW (USA) is an exciting collaboration of some of the music industry’s most talented artists. The multi-award-winning pianist, record producer Robert Glasper, together with multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, actor and record producer Terrace Martin who will bring his saxophone to the A-game, along with Grammy-Award nominated trumpeter Christian Scott Atunde Adjua, and celebrated bassist Derrick Hodge, multi-instrumentalist keyboardist and beatboxer Taylor McFerrin and Berklee College of Music alumnus and drummer
Justin Tyson. Together they will show how it’s time to ‘Respond’ and ‘Reflect’ in the ‘Now’.
Summing up what is expected to be another grand gathering, City of Cape Town, Executive Mayor Patricia De Lille said: “For nearly two decades, the City of Cape Town has been a proud host of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival which brings the world’s very best in jazz and other popular music genres to our shores. The City is a proud supporter of this event as it has added immense value to our efforts to become the events capital of Africa. Indeed, we hold the title proudly but we are grateful for the efforts of organisers of the spectacular jazz festival, which never fails to impress with a stellar and dynamic line up each year.
“The Cape Town International Jazz Festival brings people from all over the city and the country together in their love for music and in doing so, this event indeed strengthens our work of building an inclusive city. My thanks go to the organisers for continuing to put your best forward to make sure that the jazz festival remains one of our city’s key annual events. We look forward to celebrating music and people at what is sure to be an amazing 2018 instalment.”
The 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival will take place on 23 and 24 March 2018 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.