Once again the Mother City turned into a cool jazz hub this week as The Cape Town International Jazz Festival’s tentacles stretched to different parts of the city.
Friday night whet the appetite of punters heading back to the epic finale on Saturday, with a bill featuring the likes of Andra Day, Jazz Funk Soul, Jokko, Nomfundo Xaluva, Rudresh Mahanthappa Bird Calls, Dope Saint Jude, The Internet, Judith Sephuma and Laura Mvula.
Jostling to five stages
While many festival goers chose to spend time in hospitality areas on the opening night, music lovers jostled their way to five stages airing the likes of Tresor, En Vogue, Gretchen Parlato, Jonas Gwangwa and friends, The Buddy Wells Sextet, and Deepak Pandit with Marcus Wyatt and Ranjit Barot.
Under the watchful eye of Andrew Ford, the accomplished Sekunjalo Edujazz Big Band hit all the right notes with a memorable local highlight – Montreal; winner of the 2017 espYoungLegends Talent Search, Vudu, aired their originals featuring Sisanda “Sunda” Myataza on vocals; live hip hop remix act STTA took covers and twisted them up in their dirty STTA grind style – including an uber-contemporary tribute to Al Jarreau.
Guitarist Ernie Smith kept it smooth and six-string orientated with accessible melodic phrasings.
Tom Misch delivered a fresh set with chilled beats coloured by saxophone, but besides the heady explorations of The Rosies Stage with Deepak Pandit and Siya Makuzeni, but ultimately Friday was Kamasi Washington’s night with a turbo-charged set which blew your hair back.
Washington’s 10-piece band launched with a blistering keyboard solo and the team just kept pushing with effortless inventive forays fueled by the muse.
Saturday’s gig saw the crowds come out in full force, making movement in the Rosies and Moses Molelekwa locales somewhat challenging – especially as the main escalator decided traffic was overloaded and actually even reversed people backwards at some point into a waiting queue.
One of the most popular acts was much-loved, confidant Judith Sephuma at Kippies. Jokko, the Senegal/Morrocco/Mozambique ensemble were an interesting diversion from regular playlists playing African fusion – using balafon, ribab, the evocative guembri, plus bass and drums. Jokko’s drummer Sega Seck was also a delight to watch. Alluring Thandiswa Mazwai kept up the focus from an attentive crowd at Rosies, and late night up at Kippies saw Jeff Lorber and company churning up some solid grooves, lead guitar breaks, cool keys and totally delicious sax by Everett Harp.
At this annual Jazz Fest gig you just never quite know what you’re going to see or hear, or maybe witness a fleeting, live musical high capturing something of the nuances of the spirit of 2017.
Snapped at the festival by Jay Royce
What: Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Past event: 31 March, 1 April, 2017
Where: Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC)
Social media: #CTIJF2017, facebook.com/CTJazzFest, twitter.com/CTJazzFest, Instagram.com/capetownjazzfest