Every spring in Johannesburg, jazz fans come out of their winter hibernation to experience the annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival. Now in its 18th year, making it the longest-running jazz festival in the country, this year’s edition takes place from Thursday 24 to Saturday 26 September in Sandton, Johannesburg.
The festival’s curators have not only selected a tasteful 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 local and international jazz heavyweights. This year’s festival returns to the Sandton Convention Centre, where it was held last year for the first time since moving from Newtown. The music extravaganza will unfold on four separate stages: Dinaledi, Diphala, Conga and Mbira.
On the bill is a host of Africa’s top jazz talent. From South Africa, iconic artists Vusi Mahlasela, Ray Phiri & Stimela, Simphiwe Dana and Steve Dyer will each present the best of what the host nation has to offer.
There are also a host of exciting pan-African collaborative projects on show. These include Mozambican guitarist Jimmy Dludlu performing with the likes of Sara Tavares (Cape Verde), Manou Gallo (Ivory Coast), Mingas (Mozambique) and Nono Nkoane (SA). Other exciting collabs include Jaco Maria (Mozambique) with Wanda Baloyi (SA), and Hugh Masekela (SA) with Oliver Mtukudzi (Zim). The African Dreamtime ensemble features some of South Africa’s leading talent in Pops Mohamed, Steve Newman, Lucas Senyatso and masters percussionists Mabi Thobejane and Tlale Makhene alongside Nigerian-born saxophonist Olufemi Ogunkoya. Nduduzo Makhathini, the current Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year, leads a band made up of local talent Zwelakhe Duma, Omagugu Makhathini, Ayanda Sikade, Robin Fassie-Kock and Mthunzi Mvubu, alongside Swedish saxophonist Karl-Martin Almqvist.
From further afield are two trios. Paolo Fresu (Italy), Trilok Gurtu (India) and Omar Sosa (Cuba) make up one of them. The other, billed as The 3 Cohens, consists of musicians from the USA and Israel, namely Anat Cohen, Avishai Cohen, Yuval Cohen. Also from the USA comes a host of the biggest names in jazz, including legendary bassist Marcus Miller, four-time Grammy winner Larry Carlton, Cecile McLorin Salvant, The Yellow Jackets, William Parker, Dee Alexander, Lee Oskar, R&B crooner Peabo Bryson and Dwight Trible. Meanwhile from the UK comes talented young trumpeter, bandleader and DJ Matthew Halsall.
Hazel Chimhandamba, head of Group Sponsorships at Standard Bank, said: “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.”
Promoter Peter Tladi from T-Musicman added: “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.”