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You know your favourite spot on the couch? That blanket you only pull out for snuggles during the winter chill? Sipping on something warm, the best of times? Add them all to your agenda for this year’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival because this time, we’re bringing the concert to you.
The Standard Bank Jazz Festival Makhanda will bring musicians and fans together for an innovative virtual music experience to help sustain and connect the local and global music community during these unprecedented times. The festival forms part of the National Arts Festival which earlier this year announced the move to present a virtual arts festival.
Arguably the musicians’ favourite festival, is known for its ambitious collaborations across styles, continents and generations and manages to attract year-after-year serious musicians to a small magical corner of South Africa – Makhanda, nestled in the belly of the Eastern Cape. Whilst the festival has found itself in a position where it has had to reimagine live performances in the time of a pandemic, the festival has responded in a way that shows grit and commitment to still delivering an exceptional experience for its fans.
Kickstarting on the 25th June 2020, the Festival will boast a star-studded line-up with a mix of international and local artists exploring digital and virtual platforms to bring audiences jazz in a completely reimagined way.
The line-up includes – Jacob Collier, Sisonke Xonti, Ami Faku, Thandiswa Mazwai,
Mi Casa, Gloria Bosman, Spha Mdlalose, Sakhile Simani, Swing City, Ramon Alexander, Vuma Levin, Linda Sikhakhane, Ziza Muftic, Michael Bester, Lana Crowster, Mete Erker & Jeroen van Vliet
Standard Bank cardholders qualify for a discount of 20% when using a valid Standard Bank debit, cheque or credit card. The discount is applicable to online purchases only. This offer will be available for a limited time and is subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply. Bookings open on 18 June: www.nationalartsfestival.co.za
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Standard Bank Virtual Jazz Festival
25 June to 5 July
Produced by Eastern Cape Jazz Promotions
Thursday 25 June
Moves effortlessly from gritty township jazz to soulful gospel grooves.
Born in Umlazi, vocalist Spha Mdlalose has carved a successful musical career for herself, having worked with the likes of Sibongile Khumalo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Abigail Kubeka and international pop stars like Josh Groban and Israel Houghton. Her debut album, Indlel’eyekhaya – “my way home” – is about home: the longing for it, appreciation of it, and also the doubts about home. While our current political, economic, and social climates feel in turmoil, Mdlalose reminds us that through art, we can pause, reflect and recall that what ultimately matters is the people we are lucky to create homes with.
Spha Mdlalose (voice), Linda Sikhakhane (sax), Sthembiso Bhengu (trumpet), Keenan Ahrends (guitar), Thandi Ntuli (piano), Thembinkosi Mavimbela (bass), Sphelelo Mazibuko (drums)
Friday 26 June
2020 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz – Sisonke Xonti
Urban, erudite, international and skilled, but rooted in his culture
This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz, Sisonke Xonti, represents the new face of South African jazz – urban, erudite, international and skilled, but rooted in his culture. Known as one of South Africa’s most prolific young talents on the tenor sax, he straddles multiple South African worlds: he received a formal musical education and was elected thrice for the Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band and twice for the Youth Band, but simultaneously spent weekends in the culturally-rich communities of kwaLanga and Gugulethu, being immersed in the sounds, rhythms and musical experiences that have shaped his cultural identity. A law degree at UCT didn’t keep him from performing with an array of highly-acclaimed musicians such as Jimmy Dludlu, Lira, Hugh Masekela, Judith Sephuma, Feya Faku, Freshlyground, Abdullah Ibrahim, Goodluck, Simphiwe Dana, Bombshelter Beast and also as a bandleader in his own jazz project. His debut album Iyonde received critical acclaim and he has played at most major South African festivals as well as in Nigeria, China, Mozambique, Angola, Reunion Islands, Switzerland, Dubai, and many other countries. He presents two very different SBYA performances – that reflect his eclectic music interest that spans the spectrum of jazz in South Africa – as part of this year’s (online) festival.
SBYA I – Sisonke Xonti (sax), Keenan Ahrends (guitar), Bokani Dyer (piano), Shane Cooper (bass), Sphelelo Mazibuko (drums), Keorapetse Kolwane (voice)
Friday, 26 June
Sakhile Simani: People of My Community
Paying homage to his cultural roots, while propelling the jazz art form forward.
“My instrument is my voice,” says Mdantsane trumpeter Sakhile Simani, “and my project is called “People of My Community”, bringing light where there’s darkness. People in my community have lost faith, hope, and love, and the music I write brings candles of light to them.” This young talent boasts everything that is fresh and exciting about South African’s youthful jazz scene: he began trumpet in the Salvation Army Brass Band at a very young age, earning his way to a degree in Jazz from UKZN, and he was a member of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band from 2009 to 2011. A prolific collaborator, this performance gives him a chance to highlight his original material, fused with the sounds and traditional hymns from his Eastern Cape community.
Sakhile Simani (trumpet), Bokani Dyer (piano), Nhlanhla Radebe (bass), Tumi Mogorosi (drums)
Saturday 27 June
4 Grammys by the age of 25!
If Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had been born in 1994, with the full range of the modern world’s musical styles, instruments, and technology, how would we have described the result? We would call it Jacob Collier! Mozart astonished his musical contemporaries with the obvious ease with which he mastered his instrument and, from the age of 5, composed so effortlessly that the rules of harmony were reconfigured to copy him. It all just seemed impossible. When we look back at our present period, this young Londoner is going to stand out in similar fashion, while Jacob’s childlike enthusiasm, vivaciousness, and humanity have endeared him to his peers and millions of enraptured followers. The world has watched in astonishment since the advent of Jacob’s first self-made videos, produced in his bedroom when he was 17, brought attention to this musical phenomenon. His mastery of the piano, strung and percussion instruments and mesmerising vocal ability is just the start; his compositions, harmonisations, and reharmonizations indicate the enormous depth of musical understanding, recognised early by his mentor Quincy Jones and encouraged and embraced by the likes of Herbie Hancock. Two Grammys at the age of 22; another two this year – we expect a lifetime of accolades. A digital natural, Jacob mixes and produces his own audio and videos, all under the amazing internet gaze of the world – we can actually watch how our Mozart does it!
Saturday, 27 June
Gloria Bosman – Beyond Talent Ensemble
Vocal star Gloria Bosman teams up with the sensational AusTebza
With a long list of accolades, including Standard Bank Young Artist Award, two SAMAs, two KORA nominations, and eleven SAMA nominations, Gloria Bosman has earned her status as one of South Africa’s most celebrated singers. She features here with the Beyond Talent Ensemble, a group that focuses on creating a dynamic mentorship between up-coming artists and fully established ones, ensuring continuity and longevity within the jazz fraternity. Jointly spearheaded by Bosman and the vibrant, energetic bassist and vocalist extraordinaire, AusTebza (‘the Groove Queen’), the Beyond Talent Ensemble promises to be a musical journey enjoyed by those who love and treasure traditional and contemporary Jazz.
Gloria Bosman (voice, guitar), Titi Luzipo (voice), Pebble Mambane (piano), Austebza (voice, bass), Bernice Boikanyo (drums)
Sunday 28 June
Three of SA’s best-loved singers pay tribute to the Swing tradition
Swing City features three of South Africa’s best-loved singers backed by a thunderous jazz band. Their sound is hip and fresh, yet pays due respect to the jazz traditions of old. Swing City consists of Lonehill Estate’s Nathan Ro, whose love for swing music has always been deeply entrenched; Graeme Watkins, whose background in music and theatre started as a swing singer long before his success on Idols or in his indie rock band The Graeme Watkins Project; and Loyiso Bala, with classical training in music and a modern transformation as part of the TZKee crew and the Bala brothers.
Loyiso Bala (voice), Nathan Ro (voice), Graeme Watkins (voice), Justin Holcroft (sax), Neil Engel (trumpet), Bez Roberts (trombone), David Cousins (piano), Amaeshi Ikechi (bass - NG), Justin Badenhorst (drums)
Sunday, 28 June
A leading exponent of Cape Jazz
Ramon Alexander grew up in the small community of Mamre, surrounded by the brassy sounds of Moravian hymns and the legacy of Khoisan music. He first studied wine-making but his jazz-musician-by-night identity dominated and, since being selected as pianist for the Standard Bank National Youth Big Band in 2004 he’s released three albums and performs regularly at international festivals such as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Borneo International Jazz Festival as well a recent residency at No Black Tie Jazz Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "Ramon Alexander is a breath of fresh air,'' writes Jai-jai Jackson of The Jazz Network Worldwide, “he takes you on a musical journey creating a landscape of rhythmic interplay that showcases his legacy and heritage". He has become an important curator of Cape Jazz, threading his original compositions through with the sounds of his Cape identity.
Ramon Alexander (piano), Byron Abrahams (sax), Valentino Europa (bass), Annemie Nel (drums)
Monday 29 June
Vuma Levin - Antique Spoons
One of South Africa’s most promising guitarists and composers
According to the Mail & Guardian, “Vuma Levin is destined to be one of South Africa’s greatest musicians”. Levin has been receiving significant accolades in local and international circles, and it’s easy to see why. “A thoughtful, intelligent improviser and bandleader, Levin is also a highly thought-provoking composer, one intent on exploring the music’s role in commenting on and shaping societal discourse” (All About Jazz). With a Master’s Degree in Jazz Guitar Performance from the Conservatorium of Amsterdam (cum laude), his fourth album as a bandleader is Antique Spoons: Chapters on Love, Loss, and the Politics of Memory. Having absorbed various cultural experiences, his music is a fitting blend of the sparse introspective qualities of the European musical tradition, the accessibility of popular music, and the upbeat playfulness of South African music. The result is a sonic journey through Levin’s hopes and fears, both as a musician and a South African.
Vuma Levin (guitar), Sisonke Xonti (sax), Bokani Dyer (piano), Romy Brauteseth (bass), Peter Auret (drums)
Tuesday 30 June
Linda Sikhakhane’s IsaMbulo
Skillful, powerful and soulful
Saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane was born in Umlazi and began his musical studies with Brian Thusi and Khulekani Bhengu at Siyakhula, studying formally thereafter at UKZN. Endowed with obvious talent, which is matched by his equally impressive work ethic, Sikhakhane won the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship for Jazz Instrumentalists in 2016 and relocated to New York in 2017 where he enrolled at the New School University. He has played with many leading South African artists and is now based in Johannesburg, having brought out his debut album in 2017, and is becoming a leading and much-booked young jazz voice in the country.
Linda Sikhakhane (sax), Ndabo Zulu (trumpet), Afrika Mkhize (piano), Benjamin Jephta (bass), Sphelelo Mazibuko (drums), Gontse Makhene (perc)
Wednesday 1 July
One of South Africa's fastest-rising Afro-soul stars.
Supernova Ami Faku is one of South Africa's fastest rising stars. Her music, which she calls "modern Afro-soul," blends soul with modern pop and traditional Afro-soul sensibilities. Be it on a ballad or over a house beat, the adaptable Eastern Cape-born artist maintains all her traits and soul. Armed with an exceptional ability to create classic hit singles across multiple genres, the singer-songwriter dominated radio airplay in 2019 with Pop, House, Dance, Afro-Soul and Hip-Hop singles. Her debut album Imali was received with critical acclaim and landed her the coveted feature as Apple Music's New Artist Spotlight for the month of October, following in the footsteps of Sho Madjozi, Simmy, Tellaman and Shekhinah. The album also debuted at number one on Apple Music (ZA).
Ami Faku (voice), KG Daniel Chuene (guitar), Simangaliso Nkosi (keyboard), Earl Baartman (bass), Lungile Kunene (drums)
Thursday 2 July
Ziza Muftic: Shining hour
Balkan rhythms, thoughtful lyrics, and jazz-infused melodies
“Ziza is a storyteller, rather than a predictable, by-the-numbers ‘jazz’ singer”, writes esteemed jazz journalist Gwen Ansell. Raised in Croatia, and a South African for the past three decades, Ziza’s sound is a unique blend of Eastern European folk tunes mixed with American and South African jazz styles. Shining Hour, her second album, echoes Johnny Mercer’s My Shining Hour, a song of hope and high expectations and as she handpicks from known songs and her own compositions Ziza presents a repertoire that’s both diverse and accessible, making connections with her listeners while simultaneously offering something new and inventive.
Ziza Muftic (voice), Sydney Mnisi (sax), Roland Moses (piano), Peter Sklair (bass), Peter Auret (drums)
Friday 3 July
Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz – Sisonke Xonti
Urban, erudite, international and skilled, but rooted in his culture
This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz, Sisonke Xonti, represents the new face of South African jazz – urban, erudite, international and skilled, but rooted in his culture. Known as one of South Africa’s most prolific young talents on the tenor sax, he straddles multiple South African worlds: he received a formal musical education and was elected thrice for the Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band and twice for the Youth Band, but simultaneously spent weekends in the culturally-rich communities of kwaLanga and Gugulethu, being immersed in the sounds, rhythms and musical experiences that have shaped his cultural identity. A law degree at UCT didn’t keep him from performing with an array of highly-acclaimed musicians such as Jimmy Dludlu, Lira, Hugh Masekela, Judith Sephuma, Feya Faku, Freshlyground, Abdullah Ibrahim, Goodluck, Simphiwe Dana, Bombshelter Beast and also as a bandleader in his own jazz project. His debut album Iyonde received critical acclaim and he has played at most major South African festivals as well as in Nigeria, China, Mozambique, Angola, Reunion Islands, Switzerland, Dubai, and many other countries. He presents two very different SBYA performances – that reflect his eclectic music interest that spans the spectrum of jazz in South Africa - as part of this year’s (online) festival.
SBYA II - Sisonke Xonti (sax), Sakhile Simani (trumpet), Yonela Mnana (piano), Benjamin Jephta (bass), Sphelelo Mazibuko (drums), Tlale Makhene (percussion)
Friday, 3 July
Skilled, cosmopolitan guitarist offering his debut album.
Michael Bester studied jazz at UCT and holds a Master's Degree in Contemporary Music Performance and Production from Berklee, Valencia, Spain. He was the SAMRO scholarship award winner for jazz instrumentalists in 2008, which led to a period of jazz studies in New York City, and in 2013 he won a SAFTA (South African Film and Television Award) for Best Film Soundtrack. He has written and performed as a session musician on most major SA music festivals and TV shows and performs regularly with his own quartet and other well-known bands. His debut album - all original compositions - entitled Now, Not Yet has been met with critical acclaim and he presents his music here with a fresh young Cape Town sound.
Michael Bester (guitar), Buddy Wells (sax), Kingsley Buitendag (piano), Stephen de Souza (bass), Lumanyano Mzi (drums)
Saturday 4 July
Defying categorisation, her sound incorporates African Traditional, Jazz, Afrosoul, and House.
Thandiswa Mazwai – ‘King Tha’ - began her career in 1998 with the pioneering Kwaito band Bongo Maffin, and after six award-winning albums, she ventured into a solo career. Her first project - Zabalaza (2004) - reached double-platinum status and won numerous awards including a Kora award for Best African Female Artist and four South African Music Awards. Her critically-acclaimed second album, Ibokwe (2009), reached gold status within weeks of release, and Belede (2016) is a collection of reinterpretations of legendary South African jazz and protest anthems from the 1950s and 1960s golden era. Her music defies categorisation and reflects elements of African Traditional, Jazz, Afrosoul, and House. The Guardian called her "South Africa's finest female contemporary singer" and Thandiswa has performed all over the world at venues including the FIFA 2010 World Cup Opening Ceremony, the Apollo Theatre, Womex, The Cannes Film Festival, BBC World Music Awards, and several Mandela 46664 concerts.
Saturday, 4 July
Late-Night Album Launch - Lana Crowster
A versatile, vivacious vocalist who is lyrically rich and sonically compelling
Lana Crowster is a singer, songwriter, producer, bandleader, and music educator based in Cape Town. She started singing at the age of 2 and began her career in performance at the tender age of 6. A couple of decades later, and armed with a BMus and Diploma in Jazz Performance from UCT, Lana is one of Cape Town’s most sought-after performers. She sings all styles - she featured in the first season of The Voice, has performed on major festival stages, collaborates widely, and provided ethereal vocal landscapes for the award-winning feature film documentary Sidney & Friends. Her 2014 EP of original material - Seasons - saw her mixing her love of Jazz, Neo-Soul, R&B, House and Hip-Hop to create a sound that is as diverse and original as her personality. Lana founded South Africa’s first professional all-woman big band, the Lady Day Big Band, which was created with the aim of social upliftment through music and the normalisation of the view of women as musicians, and she is an advocate for music education and the empowerment of young artists.
Lana Crowster (voice), Raiven Hansmann (sax), Claire Röntsch (sax), Amanda Tiffin (keyboard), Michael Bester (guitar), Shaun Johannes (bass), Keagan Links (drums)
Sunday 5 July
Everyone’s favourite urban house band. In your living room!
Since their inception, Mi Casa has taken South African audiences by storm. The live soulful dance trio combines live horns, vocals, and keys with deep soulful grooves to create an energy on stage like no other. Since 2010 Mi Casa has dominated charts in South Africa with a total of 8 number one singles which included their smash hits Jika and Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend, both of which went multi-platinum and were the most-played songs on national and continental radio platforms. The trio has hosted countless sold-out shows in 31 African countries as well as in Portugal, the UK, Netherlands, Italy, and Canada.
J'Something (vocal), Mo-T (trumpet), Dr Duda (producer & keyboard), Tshepo Tsotetsi (sax), Neo Mogotsi (trombone)
Sunday, 5 July
Mete Erker & Jeroen van Vliet (Netherlands)
Consummately-skilled Dutch duo
Saxophonist Mete Erker and pianist Jeroen van Vliet first met as students in 1991 and have decades of musical partnership in various ensembles, including this beautiful duo. Both are consummately-skilled musicians who play in a surprisingly wide range of musical styles and are highly regarded around the world. In this duo their music is hyper-interactive and poetic, a showcase of exciting improvisations and beautiful songs. Mete Erker is a saxophonist with a very personal approach to music whose playing is characterised by his beautiful clear tone and a combination of raw energy and lyricism. Jeroen, 2014 winner of the prestigious Dutch Boy Edgar Prijs and contributor as leader or sideman to close to 50 albums, brings energy and agility to match.
Mete Erker (sax - NL), Jeroen van Vliet (piano - NL)