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Scores of Musicians to Perform at Cape Town Jazz Festival

Organizers and the local music industry are calling it the "mother of all celebrations." South Africa's 10th Annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival kicks off April 3. In its first year, in 2000, the two-day event attracted 15,000 jazz lovers to Cape Town's Good Hope Centre. The numbers have since grown and last year the festival attracted over twice as many people.In Cape Town, Unathi Kondile has this report.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has become an important event on the world music calendar. In 2006, MelodyTrip – an international music festival website - ranked it the 4th best annual jazz festival in the world.

This year 40 bands – 20 from Africa and 20 from overseas – will perform on five stages over two days. The music extends beyond jazz and encompasses elements of Afro-pop, soul, funk, blues, Latin and hip-hop. Among the artists scheduled to perform are bassist Kyle Eastwood, son of the movie star Clint Eastwood. Also – the UK-based acid-jazz group Incognito, the British jazz-funk band Shakatak and Mos Def of the United States, a multi-award nominee in the field of hip hop.

On the local front one can expect acts such as Freshlyground, Ringo Madlingozi, Sibongile Khumalo and the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra. Also to be featured is one of South Africa's legendary trumpeters, Hugh Masekela, who will be celebrating his 70th birthday on stage at the festival.

Also celebrating at this year's Jazz Festival – the Latin-beat group Loading Zone, based in Cape Town, which will celebrate its twentieth anniversary.

Those who prefer straight-ahead jazz sounds can look forward to John Coltrane's disciple Dave Liebman, Miles Davis' drummer Al Foster, an a- cappella group called New York Voices, local veteran drummer Maurice Gawronsky Quartet and many more.

Over the years, the festival has become more than a musical event. Organizers incorporate music workshops, clinics and community outreach concerts. A study by the Center for Tourism Research in Africa, based in Cape Town,found that close to half the audience that attended the festival in 2007 came from outside South Africa.

This year the Cape Town Jazz Festival is scheduled to take place on the 3rd and 4th of April with weekend admission costing about $50.

There will also be a free community band concert for music fans in the area that may not be able to attend the main festival. This will be held on Wednesday the 1st of April.

For VOA Africa, I'm Unathi Kondile in Cape Town South Africa.