Jazz aficionados are likening the Joy of Jazz line-up to another significant event — “This is like the World Cup of jazz” – because of the inclusion of Wynton Marsalis.
“After Wynton, you might as well close shop,” said Peter Tladi, the long-time promoter who secured Marsalis’s signature. He said jazz fundis around the country could not believe their ears when he broke the news. Tladi, the founder of T-Musicman, the 21-year-old event management company that organises the festival, said it had not been easy. “It took me five years. The man is very busy.”
The New Orleans-born trumpeter is rated the world’s best, according to recent polls conducted by Downbeat, one of the world’s leading jazz magazines. He has won nine Grammies and a Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 album, Blood on the Fields. He is the only jazz musician to achieve this.
A dropout of the prestigious Juilliard music school in New York where he enrolled in 1979, he seized the chance to play with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1980 and has sold out shows from Carnegie Hall to Abu Dhabi.
While here, he will conduct classes for students of the Daveyton-based Music Academy of Gauteng established in 1994 by jazz trumpeter Johnny Mekoa. Another institution to benefit from his instruction will be the Moses Taiwa Molelekwa Arts Foundation established in 2002 by Jerry “Bra Monk” Molelekwa, Moses’s father.
Addressing students at Tulane University in New Orleans in 2006, Marsalis said: “It’s time somebody woke us up.” He will wake us up this year.