Kenya's Safaricom launches monthly jazz nights

Kenyan jazz fans are in for a treat as telecommunication company Safaricom has launched a new monthly jazz night, starting this July.

Nairobi Horns Project will perform at the first Safaricom Jazz Night. Photo: NHP/Facebook
Nairobi Horns Project will perform at the first Safaricom Jazz Night. Photo: NHP/Facebook

The new monthly event, dubbed Safaricom Jazz Night, is the series of concerts intended to give Kenyan jazz musicians a platform to showcase their talent and meet the public's growing demand for quality live music.

The first of the new monthly showcases is scheduled for Thursday 28 July at the Hotel Intercontinental in Nairobi, where three talented local bands - Nairobi Horns Project, Mwai & The Truth and Shamsi Music - are lined up to perform.

The three bands were selected following a round of competitive auditions. “We decided to introduce monthly jazz nights to give a chance to more jazz musicians to perform for music fans, we realized that there is a lot of talent that should be celebrated all year round and not just at the annual festival in February,” said Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.

Collymore added that there is a lot of interest from up-and-coming jazz musicians from other African countries wanting to perform at the festival. The new monthly events will therefore also cater for these artists.

Shamsi Music is an instrumental jazz-fusion band formed in October 2014 by pianist, composer and musical director Paul Mbithi, who leads the ensemble assisted by veteran saxophonist Laka Nyaga.  Motivated by their name (the word 'shamsi' being Arabic for 'sun'), the band aims to shine light on Kenyan music by creating songs that refresh and inspire listeners.

The Nairobi Horns Project (NHP) meanwhile is a five-member band that brings together seasoned instrumentalists in Nairobi on drums, percussions, bass, guitar and keyboards. As a social concern, Nairobi Horns Project uses original music as a platform to engage young people in conversations and activities geared towards growing skills and knowledge, influencing opinions and nurturing values. Members of NHP have made noteworthy appearances on many of the major music projects in Kenya, including Coke Studio AfricaSauti Sol's African tour, the Safaricom International Jazz Festival as well as Koroga Festival.


Hugh Masekela for Safaricom Jazz Lounge in August

The Safaricom Jazz Night concerts will precede the Safaricom Jazz Lounge, one of a series of events that lead up to the annual Safaricom International Jazz Festival.

August's edition of the Jazz Lounge will be headlined by legendary South African trumpeter and flugelhornist Hugh Masekela, who will perform on Friday 12 August at the Bomas of Kenya cultural village in Nairobi.

Masekela was first nominated for a Grammy Award in 1968 for Best Contemporary Pop Performance (Instrumental) for Grazin’ in the Grass. Now in his late 70s, Masekela has released more than 40 albums in a career spanning 60 years. He received another Grammy nomination in 2011 for his critically acclaimed album Jabulani. He latest album, Playing @ Work, was released in 2013 and he remains active of the live circuit both in Africa and abroad.

Safaricom has since 2014 hosted events to promote jazz in Kenya, including the annual Safaricom International Jazz festival, which last took place in February 2016. The first edition of the festival was held in February 2014 and was headlined by New York-based Cameroonian artist Richard Bona. For more information visit the festival website.


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