The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival runs for the first six days of the annual National Arts Festival, held in Grahamstown. Each year hundreds of South African jazz musicians audition for a spot in the Standard Bank Youth Jazz Band as well as in the Standard Bank National Schools Big Band and 2015 saw its fair share of talented, ambitious hopefuls.
Competition was fierce for a place in the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz band. Just eight musicians were selected for this year’s band, whittled down from a pool of 350 of South Africa’s top young artists who faced grueling auditions at the National Youth Jazz Festival in Grahamstown for the past six days.
The alumni of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz band read like the who’s who of South African jazz and include the likes of Kesivan Naidoo, Kyle Shepherd, Tutu Pouane, Siya Makuzeni amongst others. So selection is taken very seriously.
Making up the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz band this year are:
Thami Mahlangu tenor sax (TUT),
Lorenzo Blignaut Trumpet (Delft),
Marcelle Adams Trumpet (Delft),
Phuti Sepuru Piano (University of Pretoria),
Bradley Prince Guitar (UCT),
Dalisu Ndlazi Bass (UKZN),
Tshiamo Nkoane Drums (TUT) and
Keorapatse Kolwane Vocals (TUT).
Bassist, and former Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz Concorde Nkabinde, the conductor of this year’s youth jazz band remarked, “They’re a very talented young group of musicians who are both eager and serious. The heaviest thing was deciding who would make the cut.”
“There is no other programme like this on the African continent where young musicians interact with professional musicians on the same level.”
For Standard Bank Jazz Festival Director Alan Webster the band is a good reflection of what’s happening in jazz development around the country. “It’s at a very high standard and this festival is really a place of inspiration and a benchmark.’
Also announced today was the Standard Bank National Schools Big Band, which is made up of the top school musicians from the festival.
The Standard Bank National Schools Big band, conducted by Mark de Kock, performed on 5 July at DSG Hall performing well-known classics such as Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” theme song. The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band also performed later the same evening.