Manu Dibango and Jonathan Butler inspire at MoreJazz in Maputo

October was a celebration of jazz in Maputo, Mozambique with the fifth edition of the MoreJazz Series featuring concerts and workshops with Cameroonian legend Manu Dibango and Grammy-nominated South African jazz guitarist Jonathan Butler.

Jonathan Butler during his master class in Maputo. Photo: MoreJazz
Jonathan Butler during his master class in Maputo. Photo: MoreJazz

It began on 7 October at the Polana Hotel with the opening of the retrospective exhibition of photographs taken by a variety of Mozambican photographers of previous MoreJazz concerts. Every Wednesday evening during October, the Polana hosted the ‘Under the Stars’ movie night featuring some of the best jazz-themed movies, which proved incredibly popular. Adding to this, every Thursday a jazz band from Maputo that had performed at previous editions of MoreJazz played on the veranda of the hotel.

The MoreJazz concerts, produced by saxophonist and composer Moreira Chonguica, have over the past few years seen the likes of smooth sax supremo Najee (US), Hugh Masekela (SA) and Grammy-winning Angelique Kidjo (Benin) light up the Mozambican stage alongside some amazing local and regional talent.

This time around, US-based guitarist Jonathan Butler decided to extend his recent African trip from Windhoek Jazz in Namibia to accommodate MoreJazz with an electifiying performance. Manu Dibango, now in his 80s, defied his age. Other performers included Mario Laginha and Maria Joao from Portugal, Turkish pianist Selen Gulun, and the host Moreira and his band The Moreira Project, who all took the audience’s breath away. The shows opened with Mozambique’s own rising stars, The MoreJazz Big Band, who completely enamoured the audiences with their skills.

Besides the live performances, educational master classes were held at the University of Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) with Jonathan Butler on 28 October and Manu Dibango on 2 November. Dibango, aka ‘the Lion of Africa’, was honoured by UEM at his master class for his contribution to art and culture on the African continent. UEM is the first university on the continent to honour Manu in this way. A workshop with Camillo Lombard, The Moreira Project keyboard player, was held at the Escola Nacional de Musica.

All in all, it was a month to remember for music lovers in Mozambique’s capital. The organisers are now looking ahead to the next edition of MoreJazz in October 2016. For information visit the MoreJazz website.

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