Best of the jazz fest

Transport, unless you have your own, can be unreliable. The night air is cold. So it is tempting to arrive at the DSG Hall for an afternoon show and then simply stay on, trusting that the obscure Finnish tuba players, or whoever is up next, will be worth hearing.

This year, festival marketing implicitly discourages such open-mindedness by carving jazz into six subgenres: youth, world/gospel, crossover, Afro-jazz, mainstream and modern. As with the South African Music Association Awards and every other attempt to build walls around jazz, it produces silly anomalies. What is crossing over into what? Why does that forward slash marry world and gospel? Can there not be a modern mainstream?

Ignore the labels. Here is the Mail & Guardian’s pick of the gigs from the broad church of jazz — in addition to those highlighted in our feature articles — that are likely to please your ears, intrigue your brain and lift your heart.

Anything ‘Youth’ (until July 2)

The Youth Jazz Festival ensemble concerts are the place to spot future stars, but they also always showcase unusual repertoire — something especially likely with pianist Paul Hanmer and trombonist James ­Bassingthwaite as this year’s ­conductors.


Kyle Shepherd and Jitsvinger (June 29)

Highly individual pianism and composition, take-no-prisoners MC-ing plus a hard-driving jazz rhythm section.

Nicky Schrire (June 29 or July 2)

A vocalist and arranger with a fresh approach, and a young band drawn from Cape Town and the rest of the world via New York.

A.Spell (June 30)

Cape Town multi-instrumentalist Ronan Skillen plus Swiss innovators Nadja Stoller (voice) and Jan Brönnimann (reeds) with new songs.

The Fox and the Horn (June 30)

The former is German modern saxman of the moment, Mro Fox; the latter, South African trumpeter Marcus Wyatt. Kyle Shepherd is in the mix too.

Carine Bonnefoy and the New Large Ensemble (July 1 and 3)

Acclaimed Parisian pianist and composer Carine Bonnefoy and 16 intriguing musicians, ranging from jazz vocalist to classical strings.

Mlungisi Gegana (July 4)

Featuring saxophonist McCoy Mrubata and trumpeter Feya Faku, this bass-led outing showcases the varieties of jazz imagination born in the Cape.

Hassan’adas (July 4 and 5)

Infectious pan-African and Latin beats, aware lyrics and inspired improvisers, including saxman Buddy Wells.

Andy Narell (July 6 and 7)

Narell’s inventive steelpans backed by South African players, including ace guitarist Louis Mhlanga.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Gwen Ansell
Gwen Ansell is a freelance writer, writing teacher, media consultant and creative industries researcher. She is the author of various books, including the cultural history ‘Soweto Blues: Jazz, Politics and Popular Music in South Africa’ and the writers’ guide, ‘Introduction to Journalism’.

Related stories

Don’t Miss: Our weekly round-up of virtual and in-person events

From the virtual Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival to live theatre back on stage at the Baxter in Cape Town, we’ve got you covered

Myesha Jenkins: A sister who always said it with feeling

Poet and activist Myesha Jenkins (1948-2020) took her craft, including her teaching, extremely seriously

The Portfolio: Naftali

Naftali has just released his debut single, ‘Kea Shwa’. He tells us a bit about his music-making journey.

The art of the virtual experience

The live magic may be gone, but the National Arts Festival showcases some exhilarating work

Review: Thandi Ntuli’s double consciousness on ‘Live at Jazzwerkstatt’

Thandi Ntuli’s new album, ‘Live at Jazzwerkstatt’, is a radiant turn, with dark a darker meta-narrative

A place called home: Jazz and the new normal at the National Arts Festival

Several jazz offerings at the virtual festival focus on journeys and identity
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Journey through anxious Joburg

A new book has collected writing about the condition of living, yes, with a high crime rate, but also other, more pervasive existential urban stresses particular to the Global South

Football legend Maradona dies

The Argentinian icon died at his home on Wednesday, two weeks after having surgery on a blood clot in his brain

Covid vaccines: Hope balanced with caution

As Covid vaccines near the manufacturing stage, a look at two polio vaccines provides valuable historical insights

Under cover of Covid, Uganda targets LGBTQ+ shelter

Pandemic rules were used to justify a violent raid on a homeless shelter in Uganda, but a group of victims is pursuing a criminal case against the perpetrators
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…