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Joy of Jazz Returns

This year’s annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival returns to its new home in the glitzy Sandton Convention Centre for the second year running and with a renewed three-year sponsorship commitment from its partner, Standard Bank. Central to the festival line-up is the undeniable depth and broadness of the music on offer.

The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz will herald in the spring from 24 to 26 September with a blazing line-up. This clear promise is evident in the list of artists set to headline this year’s annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival.

The curators have not only selected a judicious mix of popular favourites alongside great classics, they’ve also sought to stretch audiences’ imaginations with some visionary musical concepts and collaborations, along with some enchanting jazz heavyweights. These include Marcus Miller (USA), Yellow Jackets (USA), Hugh Masekela and Oliver Mtukudzi featuring Shai-Shai Mbira Ensemble (SA, Zim), The 3 Cohens (Israel – USA), Matthew Halsall (UK), Nduduzo Makhathini, Wanda Baloyi and Jaco Maria, Dwight Trible, Dee Alexander (USA), William Parker (USA) and Peabo Bryson.

Marcus Miller is best known as a jazz bassist, multi-instrumentalist and producer – who is also a Miles Davis alumnus – and needs little introduction to South African jazz lovers. He has won numerous awards for his ability to tread a line between the worlds of pop and straight-ahead jazz. Miller and his all-star band will be touring his latest album Afrodeezia, recorded at slave-trade locations in Africa, the Americas and France to register Miller’s statement against human trafficking and the power of music to overcome a history of hurt. He recently became a spokesperson for UNESCO’s Slave Route Project. Yellow Jackets have been dishing out their inimitable brand of jazz fusion with R&B leanings for over 30 years now. They’ve raked in many awards, and enjoy the respect not only of jazz purists the world over, but mainstream audiences too. This turns each of their shows into a kind of homecoming wherever they perform. They are not just a band loved by many, but a resilient musical institution.

If their second Mack Avenue Records release A Rise In The Road is anything to go by, the band remains as innovative as it has always been. Hugh Masekela and Oliver Mtukudzi featuring Shai-Shai Mbira Ensemble is an historic collaboration between two giants of song in Southern Africa. Both Bra Hugh and Tuku have struggle pedigree in their respective countries and undeniable international elder-statesman status. Their meeting at Standard Bank Joy of Jazz comes at a time when the power of culture and music is most needed to heal strained relations in lieu of the recent xenophobic attacks. The performance promises to blend kindred musical styles from Zimbabwe and South Africa, which have fed into each other for generations. It will be as entertaining as it will be instructive.

The 3 Cohens is a rare family band made up of equally prodigious talents. Tenor saxophonist and clarinettist Anat  Cohen, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and soprano saxophonist Yuval Cohen live up to the promise of genius that happens when jazz meets the genome factor. The siblings have been to our shores before in various contexts. This marks their first performance as a unit.

Matthew Halsall is part of a new generation of jazz musicians that mixes the strength of the old with the fire of the new. He is acknowledged as one of the UK’s brightest talents for his work as DJ, bandleader and trumpeter.

The current Standard Bank Young Artist, Nduduzo Makhathini will perform his rooted music with an international band, showcasing why he is one of the country’s most exciting young jazz performers.

Dwight Trible is going to be a rare treat for fans of the great jazz vocalist tradition. The New York based crooner is credited as an influence on a new generation of singers that includes the like of Gregory Porter. Trible delivers his sung jewels with dexterity akin to virtuoso instrumentalists.

Serious jazz listeners will need little persuasion to see William Parker who brings with him to the stage: Leena Conquest, Eri Yamamoto, Rob Brown, Lewis Barnes and Hamid Drake. Parker’s pedigree as an elder jazz bassist is legendary. However, it is the work he did with our own late Zim Ngqawana’s New York outfit, The Collective Quartet, which makes him an honorary local and makes his visit a musical homecoming.
Peabo Bryson is a global household name with a sure promise to captivate audiences with his irresistible sing along hits. The multi-award winning singer-songwriter will bring joy to all with new hits and unforgettable favourites like ‘Beauty And The Beast’; ‘Tonight I Celebrate My Love for You’ and, of course, ‘A Whole New World’.

Other artists performing include: Jimmy Dludlu and Friends: Sara Tavares (Cape Verde), Manou Gallo (Ivory Coast), Mingas (Mozambique) and Nono Nkoane (SA); Larry Carlton (USA); Steve Dyer (SA); Estelle Kokot (UK, SA and Switzerland) with Chico Freeman, Herbie Tsoaeli, Kevin Gibson; Lee Oscar; Stimela; Vusi Mahlasela; Simphiwe Dana; and of course Paolo Fresu, Trilok Gurtu, Omar Sosa (Italy, India, Cuba).

Commented Hazel Chimhandamba, Head of Group Sponsorships at Standard Bank, ‘We are excited to extend our 16 year association with the Standard Bank Joy Of Jazz Festival for a further three years until 2017; and to continue to forge a close relationship with such an exciting and progressive genre of music – jazz.’ Peter Tladi, the man who puts the ‘T’ in T-Musicman believes, ‘The sponsors have helped to minimise the impact of cost for music lovers who would otherwise feel the pinch in their pockets. It democratises access to great music. Jazz is, after all, the music of democracy. ‘Above all, it also makes it possible for us to put together this major event and create jobs. The Festival’s contribution to both the city and provincial economies speaks for itself.’ The 2015 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is produced by T-Musicman and brought to you by Standard Bank, in association with the Department of Arts & Culture and Gauteng Province.

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