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CAPE TOWN JAZZ FESTIVAL (article first published : 2005-03-21)

Roberta Flack, the legendary soul singer who is best known for her hits, Killing Me Softly and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, is one of the headliners for the upcoming Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2005. Johnny Clegg will also make his debut appearance at South Africa’s biggest Jazz Festival. Other new names include Transglobal Underground, Pitch Black Afro, Suthukazi Arosi, The Whole Drum Truth, Bazwaana, MXO, The Bobo Stenson Trio, Louis Moholo Sonke, Susanne Abbuehl, Tsepo Tshola, The Tony Schilder Trio and Friends, Bhudaza, Swazi Dlamini, and The African Jazz AllStars.

The sixth staging of this popular and successful Jazz Festival will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on March 26 and 27. The festival will again feature 40 acts in total, comprising the traditional 50/50 split between African and International artists, spread across the festival’s five stages.

The espAFRIKA team, headed by Festival director, Rashid Lombard, are now the sole organisers of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (formerly known as The North Sea Jazz Festival - Cape Town).

The international contingent includes the eclectic Transglobal Underground, the popular world music collective best known over the past decade for their string of innovative albums that all successfully fuse western dance music with the best of Arabic, Asian and African sounds. Another eagerly-awaited performance will be by The Whole Drum Truth, a highly respected jazz line-up featuring the four legendary jazz drummers, Ben Riley, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Jackie Williams, and Leroy Williams.

Among the new names in the international contingent are two artists who both appear on the respected ECM label. There is The Bobo Stenson Trio from Sweden, Swiss-Dutch singer and composer Susanne Abbueh and her group; Cesaria Evora, the barefooted World music songstress from the Cape Verde Islands; Cuban jazz pianist Ramón Valle; Yellowjackets, the innovative jazz outfit from the USA; keyboard player Amina Figarova, who is originally from Baku in Azerbaijan, with her Septet; US trumpeter, Terence Blanchard; Dave Holland, the acclaimed Jazz bassist from England; and saxophone player Yuri Honing from The Netherlands.

Making its debut festival appearance will be the group Ojoyo, featuring four accomplished South African jazz musicians now all based in New York: Morris Goldberg on sax and pennywhistle, Bakithi Khumalo on bass, Tony Cedras on piano, keyboard and accordion, and Anton Fig on drums. Added to the list of African artists are popular and unique SA rapper Pitch Black Afro (Thulani Ngcobo) ; acclaimed female vocalist Suthukazi Arosi, and Simphiwe Dana whose debut album, Zandisile, is described as “one of frightening power and intensity”. The Shape of Strings to Come, a tribute to the great Winston Mankunku featuring Jimmy Dludlu, Richard Caesar and Alvin Dyers, is bound to be one of the highlights of this year’s festival.

Tony Schilder, a famous and respected bandleader on the Cape Jazz scene and part of the well-known Schilder "jazz family" from Cape Town, will bring The Tony Schilder Trio and Friends to the festival for an emotional performance. Also on the bill is the Southern African group Bhudaza featuring Lesotho’s multi-platinum selling saxophonist Bhudaza Mpefane (lead vocals and sax), alongside Freddy Mthiya (trumpet), Thato Mokoena (piano), Tsietsi Koetle (bass), and Limpho Makhetha (drums).

MXO is the dynamic solo artist from Port Elizabeth who emerged on to the South African music scene in 2004 with Peace Of Mind, his début album on the Sony label, which exposed his winning blend of soul, funk, kwaito, hip-hop, and jazz. Tsepo Tshola first gained popularity as the leader and vocalist of the ‘80’s Afrobeat group Sankomota and later launched his successful solo career with his 2002 album, A New Dawn. Louis Moholo Sonke is the legendary SA drummer whose name is synonymous with important SA jazz groups like the Blue Notes in the ‘60’s and later Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, as well as Harry Miller's Isipingo, and Spirits Rejoice with Kenny Wheeler and Evan Parker. Bazwaana is the name of the group headed by Adam Howard that released its debut album, Step by Step', which featured guest artists including Kabelo, Bruce from Brothers Of Peace, and Themba Mkize.

The African Jazz AllStars, regarded as “Africa's greatest jazz orchestra”, will appear at this year’s Festival. The African Jazz Allstars, under the direction of guitarist Lucky Ranku, features a changing group of renowned African jazz soloists who successfully fuse township rhythms with a range of African jazz styles including afrobeat, soukous, and mbalax. The line-up includes names like Lucky Ranku from South Africa (guitar), Claude Deppa from South Africa (trumpet), Fayyaz Virji from Tanzania (trombone), Bukky Leo from Nigeria (tenor sax), Tony Kofi from Ghana (alto sax), Greg Bonnie from Nigeria (baritone sax), Arnold Khanu (piano), Jules Bikoko from Cameroon (bass), Hilaire Penda from Cameroon (bass), Brice Wassy from Cameroon (drums), Lazarus Gaman from Cameroon (piano), Lekan Babalola from Nigeria (percussion), and Robert Fordjour from Cameroon (drums).

There will also be a special appearance by The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band, with Carlo Mombelli as conductor, comprising musicians like Daniel Shout (alto and soprano sax), Mongezi Conjwa (piano), Kyle du Preez (trombone), Mimi Ntenjwa (vocal), Donvino Prince, Ayanda Sikade, and Ramon de Bruin. The festival programme also includes the Tunisia world music star Dhafer Youssef; dynamic Mozambican group 340ml; world-famous mbaqanga trio Mahotella Queens; 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

Ticket prices for the 2005 festival remain the same as last year at R399 for a two-day pass and R260 for a one-day pass. Book at Computicket. Details of travel packages are available from SAA at +27 11 978 1144 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




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