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Moh Dediouf, Eyrkah Badu Wow Cape Town Jazz Festival

South Africa's own Blue Notes Tribute Orkestra played to a packed house at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (Photo by Unathi Kondile)
South Africa's own Blue Notes Tribute Orkestra played to a packed house at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (Photo by Unathi Kondile)
Among the more than 30,000 jazz enthusiasts who filled Cape Town’s International Conference Centre for two nights of live music from around the world, South Africa’s minister of arts and culture was one of the most enthusiastic.

“It brings a lot of people to Cape Town,” says Paul Mashatile, “It showcases our own talent. We don’t only put on stage international musicians; it’s also local. And some of the local ones are really getting a big platform for the first time, so that is great. From here they can go places.”

Mashatile has committed the support of his ministry as a partner supporting this initiative. “We want to grow our arts and culture in music…”
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South Africa truly celebrated one of its most popular events: the 15th annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Tickets were sold out a month in advance. Dubbed as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering” by the organizers, the audience revelled in the aisles of the Cape Town International Convention Centre to watch 40 artists on five stages.

Artists from around the world

The headline act was vocalist Erykah Badu from the United States. Other American performers included Abdullah Ibrahim, Carmen Lundy, Snarky Puppy, the Kenny Garrett Quintet, Chris Dave, and The Foreign Exchange. The worldwide line-up included Hiatus Kaiyote from Australia, India’s Rakesh Chaurasia and Friends and Senegal’s Moh Dediouf.

South African acts included Jonas Gwangwa, Soul Housing Project, Black Coffee, The Soil, Bokani Dyer and the Blue Notes Tribute Orkestra.

Mashatile says, “I think one of the brilliant things that Rashid and Billy did was to really broaden the festival in a sense that it’s a jazz festival, but you can still go to some stages and hear house music called kwaito from the group MiCasa.

So young people come because their kind of music is also accommodated and so it is not just purely jazz or deep jazz; it is quite a mixture. And it has just grown, sold out, basically. So it is excellent.”

Pre-festival events included workshops in arts journalism, master classes by some of the world leaders in jazz and urban music and a free concert held two days before the main festival in the heart of Cape Town. Featured artists were UK’s Shakatak, the Netherland’s Tasha’s World and Cape Town’s rising star, Sade Ross, who performed until the rain-soaked crowds went home.

The organizers of the annual event said the festival has outgrown it original venue. Rashid Lombard and Billy Domingo of espAfrika, said the space problem will be solved with the eagerly-awaited expansion of the center.