The Standard Bank Jazz Festival was launched in Johannesburg last night. Early bookings are now open! Here’s a note from Festival Director ALAN WEBSTER about what you can expect in Makhanda in 2019

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) is now in its 32nd year and is a special jazz festival, produced as a barometer of South African jazz, and is a place where artists meet and challenge audiences to expand their expectations of the art form.

Running concurrently with the National Arts Festival, audiences know that they can trust the programming to be exciting and different and, even if some performers are not household names, always to be excellent.

We kick off the festival with a Big Band on four successive nights – the massive FUNK BIG BAND, led by the world-renowned Swedish trombonist Nils Landgren; Marcus Wyatt’s ZAR ORCHESTRA; and the STANDARD BANK NATIONAL SCHOOLS’ BIG BAND.

The first weekend also features a jazz party most nights, featuring TOO MANY ZOOZ – New York’s hippest new act – and our own wild things, BOMBSHELTER BEAST, so pack your onesie and join the party crowd!

The first half of the festival traditionally also features a glimpse into our nation’s jazz future, with the 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz, Mandla Mlangeni, showcasing his musical plans in two performances MANDLA MLANGENI AMANDLA FREEDOM ENSEMBLE and MANDLA MLANGENI: TUNE RECREATION COMMITTEE, as well as five other past winners of the award dotted through the programme, such as Shane Cooper with his latest project, MABUTA.

There will also be numerous opportunities to hear what is coming from the nation’s youth players, gathered for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival – a festival that has provided musicians, teachers and students with networking opportunities and exposed them to the world in a fashion unique in South Africa and possibly the world, catalysing the growth of our national jazz identity in the process.

The programme continues with musical greats from the past decade or two, featuring LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO, FRESHLYGROUND, ERNIE SMITH and MAFIKIZOLO.

Over the 11 days we feature musicians from Kenya, Sweden, USA, Switzerland, Brazil, Italy, Zimbabwe, Norway and, for the first time in Makhanda, from China!

We trust that you will find the programme provocative, exciting and enjoyable, and it is threaded through with musicians who have made their initial forays into jazz in Makhanda, as Standard Bank Young Artists; or in the Standard Bank National Youth or Schools’ Bands; or simply as youngsters having their minds blown by what they have seen on the DSG stage.

Welcome to a celebration of the past and future of our nation’s jazz!

Alan Webster
FESTIVAL DIRECTOR
Eastern Cape Jazz Promotions

Main photo: NAIROBI HORNS