Jazz melting pot on offer

John Edwards

THE 2013 Standard Bank Jazz Festival starts tonight in Grahamstown and, as is customary, offers an inspired programme with something for everyone.

The programming of this particular jazz festival has always been slanted towards the cutting-edge of the European jazz scene.

However, in addition to a nod towards the inescapable American jazz tradition in the shape of trombonist Steve Turre, there is also a more than adequate representation of the South African jazz contingent past and present. So move quickly!

Chances are that tickets for the legendary Jonas Gwangwa have already sold out …

The inclusion of artists such as Mi Casa, The Soweto String Quartet, Robin Auld and Vusi Mahlasela on a jazz festival programme, could also be seen as evidence of a tricky balancing act on the part of the festival organisers, who should be applauded.

The Awesome Big Band is especially assembled for the jazz festival and features a cross-section of the diversity of nationalities and jazz personalities who are participating.

This year’s incarnation is conducted by the irrepressible Canadian trumpeter, Bruce Cassidy and there are two performances in the DSG Hall tomorrow and Sunday.

Both performances start at 7pm and, if you attend on Sunday, you would be well advised to stick around for Rhythm Changing at 9pm which is a collective of European and South African players who tend more towards the avant garde side of the jazz spectrum.

The collaboration features Atrle Nymo on saxophone, Malcolm Braff on piano, Carlo Mombelli on bass and two drummers – East London-born Kesivan Naidoo and Hakon Mjjaset Johansen.

South African alto saxophonist Barney Rachabane makes a welcome return to the festival and will be performing with his sextet in the DSG Hall at 7h30pm on Thursday. His grandson – a tenor saxophonist – is also on the gig as is his daughter, Octavia, who will be on vocals. You can view the entire programme on http://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/programme-2013/

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