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CAPE TOWN JAZZ FESTIVAL (article first published : 2005-01-3)

It is all systems go for the 6th staging of “Africa's Grandest Gathering”, the biggest annual jazz event on the continent. Festival director, Rashid Lombard, and the espAfrika team are confident that The Cape Town International Jazz Festival (formerly the North Sea Jazz Festival - Cape Town), which will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on March 26 and 27 will be bigger and better than all the previous years' festivals.

After five successful stagings of the North Sea Jazz Festival - Cape Town, in partnership with the Dutch promoters Mojo, espAfrika is now the sole organiser of this prestigious music event. But apart from that, and the fact that the ‘serious’ jazz stage, Rosies, will become a pre-booked ‘pay’ stage, the organisers have announced that everything else will be business as usual. The festival will again feature five stages with a line-up of 40 acts comprising a 50/50 split between African and International artists.

The decision to turn Rosies into a ‘pay’ stage, meaning that festival goers will now pay a nominal fee of R20 extra per artist to reserve a seat, was made in the interests of better crowd control. “Rosies has always been a very popular stage with the serious jazz lovers and we had hoped that the move to the CTICC last year would give us the extra capacity we needed,” said Rashid Lombard. “However, with the festival itself becoming more popular each year we find the demand is still too great and we cannot accommodate everybody. Therefore we are following the example of the other major international jazz festivals by instituting this new measure. We know that the serious jazz fans will prefer to pay a little bit extra to ensure that they get to see their favourite artists in a calm and comfortable manner.”

With just over three months to go, espAfrika have announced the first list of artists who will be appearing at The Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2005.

Among the confirmed headliners is Cesaria Evora, the adored and barefooted World music songstress from the Cape Verde Islands. Also on the bill is celebrated keyboard player Amina Figarova Septet who is originally from Chechnya now living in Holland.

Among the male headliners gracing the Cape Town festival for the first time; are the highly-rated US trumpeter, Terrence Blanchard; and Dave Holland, the English Jazz maestro on his famous double bass. There will also be a long awaited appearance by the sensational group, Yellow Jackets, from the USA. Another group that is going to excite is Morris Goldberg and Ojoyo. The band members are all internationally acclaimed South African musicians now living in New York – Bakithi Khumalo, Tony Sedres and Anton Fig.

The African contingent currently includes 340ml, the Mozambican group who have stamped their presence on the SA music scene with some wonderful live shows and a brilliant debut album called Moving; and the world-famous Mahotella Queens, the mbaqanga trio who have forged a successful career following the death of their frontman and vocalist, Mahlatini, a few years ago.

Other African artists appearing at the 2005 festival include the Young Bakuba Band, comprising musicians from Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon; SA bassist Sammy Webber, known for his work with Virtual Jazz Reality and U-Turn; and Swazi Dlamini, who recently won the Best Female Artist Sama award for her debut album, My First Love.

Other names to watch out for include the respected Cuban jazz pianist Ramón Valle; saxophone player Yuri Honing from The Netherlands, regarded as one of the new leading voices in jazz; Louie Vega, who is well known as a DJ on the New York City club circuit, but is more widely known as half of the production team Masters at Work, will be performing with his 12-piece band, Elements of Fire, and from Tunisia comes Dhafer Yousef, one of the rising stars on the contemporary World music scene.

espAfrika will be releasing more names as they become available, but even at this early stage with artists of the calibre already confirmed it is looking like the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2005 line-up will be as outstanding as in previous years.

Ticket prices remain the same at R399 for a two-day pass and R265 for a one-day pass. Book at Computicket.

The demand from both South African and international jazz fans for tickets, trains, flights, accommodation, and travel packages for the sell-out festival has already begun. The organisers have been working with SAA to make a large variety of travel packages available. Details of these are available from SAA at +27 11 978 1145 or on their website www.flysaa.com There is also a Cape Town International Jazz Festival hotline at 083 123 JAZZ (or 5299) and line-up updates and other festival info can be found at the official site www.capetownjazzfest.com

The confirmed Gold sponsors for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival are once again MTN, SAA, SABC and Standard Bank. The Silver sponsors for the 2005 event are Brandhouse and SA Tourism. Other Sponsors and or funding principals include the Department of Arts and Culture, the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, Ambassade van het Nederlanden and Central Improvement District.




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