The Top 10 acts to watch at CTIJF

Wear comfortable shoes, arrive early, have a decent meal and, most importantly, have a taxi service’s number saved on your phone for your journey home. Those four pearls of wisdom are passed down from Cape Town International Jazz Festival veterans to newbies every year. Those who plan to make the most of the festival will benefit from this advice.

This year’s festival offers pots of music from 41 established and younger local and international acts. Arriving early makes it possible to park on a chair at the Rosies stage (which has limited entry and is an intimate venue) and have an incredible festival experience from start to finish. It’s also wise to get Rosies tickets early.

  1. On Friday night, South African folk luminary Madala Kunene opens the Rosies stage. His career began when he was seven years old, busking on Durban’s beachfront with a guitar made with an oil can resonating chamber. Since then, he has shared the stage with Busi Mhlongo and Winston Mankunku Ngozi, among a host of others. Kunene often tells witty and humorous anecdotes while tuning his guitar between songs.
  2. American pianist Gerald Clayton follows Kunene’s set on the same stage. He has released three albums and is also a three-time Grammy award nominee. His father, John Clayton, is an acclaimed bassist and composer and introduced Clayton to the life of a musician from early on. Listen for Clayton and his band’s take on old numbers and his original spellbinding compositions.
  3. It’s historical for Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse to perform on the Kippies stage because the stage derives its name from a jazz club he once owned. The Burn Out star has a professional musical career that stretches back to 1966. Mabuse should need no introduction to a South African audience. So, let loose on some of the most memorable songs in our songbook.
  4. For those fortunate enough to have seen Mabuse at the free concert on Wednesday night, it’s worthwhile to catching Melanie Scholtz and Jitsvinger’s collaboration on the Moses Molelekwa stage. Scholtz has performed at the festival several times. She has a strong, rightfully lauded vocal ability and emcee Jitsvinger can help non-mothertongue speakers brush up on Afrikaans.
  5. Friday night’s final act on the Moses Molelekwa stage is a tricontinental collaboration between sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee (India), tabla player Talvin Singh (United Kingdom) and our own bassist Shane Cooper. It’s a pity that the tail end of this collaboration coincides with the beginning of the final Rosies stage show for the night.
  6. Dutch pianist Mike del Ferro recorded an album in South Africa as the third instalment of his Songs by Wandering the Globe series. Del Ferro’s trio is completed by drummer Kesivan Naidoo and bassist Romy Brauteseth. The trio has enlisted Hungarian-born saxophonist Tony Lakatos for this performance. The music could go anywhere with four players well-versed in various styles.

    Benjamin Jephta (David Harrison, M&G)

  7. The second night’s offerings are likely to polarise audiences, who will have to choose between two big shows. Drummer Claude Cozens opens Moses Molelekwa with trio mates Benjamin Jephta on bass and Kyle Shepherd on keyboard and synthesisers. Spirituality is a common thread in all three players’ music. So, this is an act to watch on the night and in the future.
  8. For the practical, the hour after Cozens’ set will provide an opportunity to buy tickets for the next two Rosies sets and to take in the Duotone Gallery photographic exhibition in the foyer. For the ambitious, the hour will provide a chance to hear a few notes from The City, Naima Kay and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
  9. Bäenz Oester & The Rainmakers was formed in Grahamstown when bassist Oester and fellow Swiss musician Ganesh Geymeier (saxophone) met the South African pianist Afrika Mkhize and drummer Ayanda Sikade. These players are sure to make an occasion of the performance on the Rosies stage.
  10. Trumpeter Hugh Masekela’s place in music has long been assured, and the same applies to Zimbabwean guitarist Oliver Mtukudzi. The two come together for a collaborative performance at Kippies at the same time as Victor Masondo features Thembi Mtshali at Rosies.

It’s a pity that the last four acts for the closing night are all from the United States. It’s a downright shame that you’ll have to choose between vocalists Al Jarreau and Amel Larrieux. Both have had illustrious careers. And it’s a travesty that trailblazing bassist Thundercat will be playing at the same time. 

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