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Thursday, June 6, 2019


(Ladysmith Black Mambazo will appear at the Festival)

This spring, Johannesburg will groove to the rhythm of jazz unleashed as the city celebrates the 22nd Standard Bank Joy of Jazz. Africa’s premier jazz festival takes place on September 26 to 28 2019, where the festival looks to connect people beyond age, gender and genres. Jazz lovers will be reintroduced to the music, while novices will discover the magic of jazz. At its best, jazz is free, fun, and unleashed.

The magic is woven into a line-up that includes multi-award winning Mozambican composer and saxophonist, Moreira Chonguiça who is without a doubt one of the finest creators of the innovative and original African jazz form. It’s youthful and energetic, borrowing from the Latin world as it is rooted in a modern African palette. Cuban born pianist, Roberto Fonseca draws on classical influences, rock influence, and hip-hop. Cuba is one of the important jazz centres of the world. Incredible drummer, Manu Katché brings his unrelenting rhythmic charm to the SBJOJ stage. The French drummer embodies the spirit of jazz unleashed, having worked with everyone from Sting, Branford Marsalis, Peter Gabriel, Jan Garbarek, and Youssou N'Dour to name a few. A rare treat on the bill is Ken Peplowski, who's been described as the greatest living clarinetist in jazz.

The festival will open with the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra led by trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis who is, to many, the public face of jazz music. His ability to draw on history to point to a dignified future has been central to the global jazz tradition since he emerged on the scene. His band will share honours with the ZAR Orchestra led by Mzansi’s own eclectic horns-man, Marcus Wyatt. The South African trumpeter was specifically chosen by Marsalis for the gig to celebrate jazz as a shared value in the struggle to perfect freedom and democracy in South Africa and the United States. The two rise to showcase the jazz traditions from these two countries.

Another trumpeter not be missed is Nigerian-born, Etuk Ubong, fast becoming a notable voice in jazz. Ubong’s music draws inspiration from jazz great trumpeters that stretch from Hugh Masekela to Miles Davis. The larger expanses of African jazz will rev up the festival through the music of Kyekyeku & Ghanalogue Highlife, a six-piece group who play a brand of music formed by Fela Kuti, Highlife. The historic band Stimela, the iconic Sipho Mabuse, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, singer & songwriter, Siphokazi, and The Soil will underscore the diversity that makes up South African jazz. Mzansi’s own rising star, vocalist and pianist, Nomfundo Xaluva explores local traditions for global tastes along with Nokukhanya Dlamini.

Not to be missed is Sankofa, led by US born and SA based saxophonist and composer, Salim Washington. The band is simultaneously rooted in Mzansi, connected to the US while inspired by Pan African ideas. Sankofa is a Ghanaian philosophy looking back to inform the future. This is jazz that is as aware of hip-hop as it is of the blues and Maskandi.

Arguably, the most daring Avant-Garde collaboration on the bill, ZACHUSA is a multinational outfit that features, Swiss pianist, Malcolm Braff, South African drummer Kesivan Naidoo, American bassist, Reggie Washington. This is jazz of the rigour not unlike the incredible tenor-man, Alexander Beets is a legendary Dutch tenor. 

Bringing on other great music beyond straight ahead jazz, the line-up features soul singer Rahsaan Patterson to the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz stage, alongside other soul jewels like, RJ Benjamin.

The 2019 SBJOJ features a never-to-be repeated all-star band performance to celebrate 35 Years of the Standard Bank Young Artist (SBYA) Awards. The performance will feature previous award winners like Swiss based and South African born saxophonist, Shannon Mowday (2007) will join the elder stateswoman of South African jazz, Sibongile Khumalo (1993), inimitable composer pianist, Nduduzo Makhathini (2015), and singular bassist, Concord Nkabinde (2006) and others like Gloria Bosman (2000), Bokani Dyer (2011) Mark Fransman (2008) to name a few.

The 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz, trumpeter, Mandla Mlangeni will also lead his own outfit in performance.

“We are excited about what the 2019 line-up holds for us, as we mark one of the longest jazz sponsorship partnerships in the country (21 years this year)”, says Thulani Sibeko, Standard Bank Chief Marketing Officer. “Of particular joy for us is the large number of Standard Bank Young Artist Jazz alumni performing this year – including the opening night once off all-star band of previous winners. It is proof of the critical role we can and do play in moving artists’ careers forward.”

“We are perennially inspired by jazz as a symbol of freedom. It’s a freedom to be creative and explore beyond the tradition itself. This is at the heart of our idea of Jazz Unleashed. To go to the edges of our great music and rediscover it anew,” states Mantwa Chinoamadi, Festival Producer at T-Musicman.

“Every year we strive to bring new audiences and grow the festival. This is not possible without demonstrating jazz’s ability to grow; It was important to mark 25 years of our South African democracy with a collaboration with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Centre. It takes our footprint global. This is important for the role that the festival must play in cultural diplomacy” says Peter Tladi, CEO of T-Musicman.