/ 26 March 2024

Cape Town jazz festival tuning up after Covid lull

Image008 2
Debut: Kujenga is one of the local outfits that will be playing at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

The theme of this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival is “Refresh!” That is what many jazz fans will be doing relentlessly on their computers to see which other acts will play as the festival re-emerges on 3 and 4 May, after a Covid-imposed lull.

So far, only three international acts have been announced. 

One is the Yussef Dayes Experience, led by the London producer, composer and drummer Dayes, whose debut album Black Classical Music was both a critics’ and a fan favourite last year. 

Another London outfit, Kokoroko, promises to be a crowd-puller with their thrilling blend of jazz and Afrobeat. The third English band, Matt Bianco, founded in 1982, will stretch the definition of “jazz” to snapping point for many fans.

Some of South Africa’s finest artists have been confirmed: Nduduzo  Makhathini, Mandisi Dyantyis, Radio Sechaba, Billy Monama, Zoë Modiga, Carlo Mombelli, Benjamin Jephta and Kujenga.

Newbies Kujenga are having quite a year. Not only is the seven-piece from Cape Town making their debut at the festival but will also introduce festivalgoers to their first album In The Wake, which they are touring.

“It feels surreal,” the band’s Zwide Ndwandwe told the Mail & Guardian this week about their invitation to the prestigious event. 

“I was quite emotional on the day we got the email. Like everyone else, I was just waiting for them to return as a festival — ready to go back as a spectator.

“I didn’t expect the call-up at all, even though it’s something we’d wanted for us for a long time. We even did the [festival’s] Battle of The Bands competition in 2019, and we didn’t make it, so I think about that a lot now that we’ve been booked by them directly.”