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NORTH SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL (article first published : 2004-02-9)

Angie Stone, Stanley Clarke, Abdullah Ibrahim and Freshlyground join Cassandra Wilson, Miriam Makeba with Trio, Femi Kuti & Positive Force and Jonathan Butler as headliners for the annual North Sea Jazz Festival - Cape Town 2004. The event will celebrate its 5th anniversary in 2004, coinciding with the launch of South Africa's "Ten Years into Democracy" anniversary celebrations. Rashid Lombard of esp-Afrika is again heading the dynamic management team, alongside his Dutch partners, Theo van den Hoek and MOJO Concerts.

The festival will take place on April 10 and 11 at its new home at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. With this timeous change of venue, the organisers have responded to the attendees' needs and will be able to stage a far more comfortable and user-friendly jazz festival at this venue, which will be the festival's home for the next 13 years. This move also raises the possibility that the festival's traditional four venues - Manenbergs, Kippies, Baseline, and Rosies – will be increased to five stages. While the 2004 event will be staged in April, due to temporary capacity constraints, the festival will revert to its traditional March-end staging from 2005.

The festival line-up, which will again be the traditional, evenly split contingent of over 34 International and African performers, is already almost complete, with the latest additions including Angie Stone, Stanley Clarke, Abdullah Ibrahim, Raga Afrika, Loyiso, Azymuth, Alvin Dyers Quartet, Freshlyground, Daryl Andrews Jazz Band, Hiroshima, Soweto Kinch, Tasha's World, and the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band.

US soul diva, the acclaimed Angie Stone, will be bringing her glorious voice and outstanding live performance to the festival for the first time. This veteran singer/songwriter worked with rap trio Sequence, acid-jazz combo Vertical Hold, and alongside D'Angelo on his Brown Sugar album before releasing 1999's classic soul record, Black Diamond, followed by the equally-lauded Mahogany Soul album, both featuring Angie Stone's mature and sexy neo-soul, R&B style.

Jazz fans will be thrilled to hear that Stanley Clarke will also be coming to the festival. Clarke has had an illustrious career, from his work with Chick Corea in Return To Forever and with George Duke in the Clarke-Duke Project, to his successful solo career and albums, and his work as a composer, conductor, orchestrator, arranger, songwriter, and record producer.

Hiroshima have been performing their unique combination of distinctively Japanese elements for over 25 years, as have Brazilian trio, Azymuth, with their "samba doido" (crazy samba), a power blend of Brazilian rhythms, jazz, and funk. Tasha's World is a very popular Dutch hip soul act; Raga Afrika is an Indo-Afro Fusion Band with an "East meets Africa" sound; and Soweto Kinch is the acclaimed young British alto saxophonist whose debut album, Conversations With the Unseen, successfully mixed post bop jazz and rap.

From South Africa there is pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, one of SA Jazz's most adored and respected elder statesmen, who joins fellow Capetonians, the popular Alvin Dyers Quartet and The Darryl Andrews Band on the festival bill. The Darryl Andrews Band is a 12-piece Latin-Funk band featuring some of the finest jazz musicians in Cape Town. SA singer, Loyiso (Bala), began his career with the Drakensberg Boys' Choir and was later a member of the TKZee Family before launching his own successful brand of R&B and soul; and the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band are an exciting young addition to the festival bill alongside the more mature performers.

Freshlyground burst onto the Cape Town scene over a year ago and are currently promoting their very successful debut album, Jika Jika, with a series of sold-out concerts around the Cape. The seven-person ensemble is sure to charm the Festival audience with its dynamic Afro-world-jazz hybrid sound on songs like Castles, Mali, and Ocean Floor. Freshlyground's first appearance at the Festival is a deserved honour for the members of the line-up which features vocalist Xolani Mahola, Justin Tonkin (guitar), Kyla-Rose Smith (violin) Aron Turest-Swartz (keyboards), Josh Hawks (bass), Simon Attwell (flute), and Peter Cohen (drums).

These artists join a list of other confirmed acts that includes: Miriam Makeba, South Africa's universally-respected vocalist who will be performing with TRIO (Severieno Diaz de Oliveira, Leopoldo Fleming and William Salter); Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Cassandra Wilson; Cape Town's renowned jazz vocalist and guitarist Jonathan Butler; SA jazz singer Gloria Bosman; saxophonist Toon Roos and the Toon Roos Group; trumpeter Basilio Márquez with his own septet, Eclipse.

Also appearing are The Lou Donaldson Quartet, featuring the legendary jazz keyboardist Dr.Lonnie Smith; Femi Kuti, the eldest son of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and a World star in his own right, with his 17-piece band, Positive Force; SA saxophonist McCoy Mrubata; the Joe Lovano Trio; Feya Faku (on trumpet and flugelhorn) in collaboration with Dutch musicians Gully Gudmunsson and Mete Erker; and the Ngcukana Brothers (Ezra, Cyril, Fitzroy, Claude, and Duke).

Finally, there's the Jonny Cooper Big Band with vocalist Donald Tshomela; saxophonist Sadao Watanabe; Sakhile with Sipho Gumede, Mabi Thabejane, and Khaya Mahlangu; and the Sax African Summit - Let Freedom Ring, which features the talents of saxophonist Jackie McLean and altoist Rene McLean with special guest saxophonists James Moody and Gary Bartz, and also featuring Hotep Idris Galeta, Nat Reeves, Ronnie Burrage, and Okeyrema Asnate.

South African and international jazz fans have already begun arranging and booking tickets, trains, flights, accommodation, and travel packages for the festival in April. The organisers have been working with SAA to ensure that a large variety of travel packages are available. Details of these are available from SAA on 011 978 1145 or on their website www.flysaa.com

Confirmed Gold sponsors for the North Sea Jazz Festival - Cape Town 2004 are once again MTN Group, SAA, SABC and Standard Bank. The Silver sponsors are SAB and SA Tourism. Other Sponsors and/or funding principals include the Department of Arts and Culture, CD Wherehouse, Musica, MMINO, Western Cape Government, City of Cape Town, SHELL, TELKOM and Ambassade van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden.

Ticket prices R260 (single day) and R399 (weekend). Book at Computicket. There is also a North Sea Jazz Festival hotline on 083-123-JAZZ (or 5299) and line-up updates and other festival info can be found at www.nsjfcapetown.com




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