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 today, April 3rd. In its first year – 2000 -- the two-day event attracted 15,000 jazz lovers to Cape Town's Goodhope Center. The numbers have since grown and last year the festival attracted over twice as many people.
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 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 are 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 jazz sounds can look forward to John Coltrane's disciple Dave Liebman, Miles Davis' drummer Al Foster, an acappella group called New York Voices, local veteran drummer Maurice Gawronsky and the 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 taking place April 3rd and 4th with weekend admission costing about $50.
There was also a free community band concert for area music fans that were not able to attend the main festival, held Wednesday, April 1st.