The Cape Town International festival has grown to become one of Africa’s largest music gatherings. It features 40 live bands – equally split between African and overseas artists. Five stages are needed to accommodate all the performers.
Some of this year’s artists include US singer Regina Carter; South African pianist Tete Mbambisa, South African guitarist Jonathan Butler and US soul-singer Bilal. Other local big name artists include Selaelo Selota, TKZee and indie rock group BLK JKS.
“It’s become a social gathering, a lifestyle, but I think more important besides the fact that we have the George Bensons, the Toots Thielemans Quartet, the McCoy Tyners, we also have our own South Africans like the Judith Sephumas, the Vusi Mahlaselas, Lira”, says Rashid Lombard one of the organizers.
“What is very important for us in terms of our program is that the South Africans are on the same stage as their [international] counterparts and we do that very proudly because we know that this music is at the same standard”, says Lombard.
In addition to the performances, Lombard points out training and development programs are available. Workshops and lectures are free to members of the public who register in advance. According to Lombard, the programs include school music workshops, an arts journalism course for journalists interested in reporting events such as the jazz festival and other arts initiatives, as well as music business lectures.
Last year's Jazz Festival crowd
“The event has actually grown – starting with an arts journalism course, which is very popular now, because we get students from all over Africa,” Lombard points out.
“It’s an accredited course with the Department of Education. We’ve introduced a “Gig for Kids,” which is going into its third year and you know it’s not only focused on music as a means of therapy but also music as a means of fun as well. Children from 3 to 10 years old come with their parents. And of course during that week there are those parties that pubs, clubs and restaurants organize,” he says.
The festival brings to Cape Town and the entire country a positive economic impact. Last year the festival brought in $100 million to the country.
“We are heading the team in terms of the economic impact last year being a difficult year because of the downturn internationally. We’re employing 2600 people – both casual and contractors. And the GDP is all about your hotels, your flights, your restaurants," says Lombard.
Festival goers this year can also visit the Duotone Photographic Gallery, which is located within the festival venue and features a tribute to the late local musician, Winston Mankunku. The public can see photo exhibits by American photographer William Rasdall and South African photographer Cedric Nunn. Organizer Rashid Lombard has published a photo album entitled Jazz Rocks.