JAZZ LEGEND: Jonas Gwangwa
JAZZ LEGEND: Jonas Gwangwa
The Cape Town International Jazz Festival caters to most tastes, from world music to house and a whole lot of jazz, including township, NU, South African, American, futuristic and smooth.

International support and expertise has played a strong role in the growth of the event. In 1998, the festival formed a partnership with Mojo, producers of the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, to stage the event in Cape Town.

Theo van der Hoek, chief executive of the North Sea Jazz Festival (1992 to 2005) was a mentor to the festival founders.

He said: “As a festival director you must have a good heart for music and a good head for business.

“You need sponsors to organise a festival. You must have a network in government.

It is very important you take your visitor seriously. And make sure the sound is good at the venues and that you have excellent food. The people don’t mind paying a certain entrance fee but they expect luxury at the festival.”

From this foundation of excellence, festival founders Rashid Lombard and Clarence Ford began to programme the event around the local talent.

“A visitor needs to feel and gain confidence that the ‘programmers’ know what they are doing, that they know their audience and know their music and culture.

“There is no real way to ‘test’ this, other than doing it. Sensibility and sensitivity are required as the ‘programmers’ also have to build confidence and a solid and trusted reputation among artists, managers and agents,” Lombard said.

Now in its 18th year, CTIJF, a week-long series of events, has a capacity attendance of 34 000 people. It is one of the top events on the global jazz calendar.

There are master classes on Friday and Saturday. These are an opportunity to engage with musicians and are free to the public. On Friday they will be given by trailblazing LA jazz original Kamasi Washington; McFerrin and Gilmore, a new generation of musical talent; The Internet and Andra Day, from the US.

Trumpeter Darren English and music guru Shado Twala lead a music business chat.

Classes on Saturday will be by American super-group Jazz Funk Soul; Rudresh Mahanthappa, the American saxophonist and young American singer Gretchen Parlato.

Each night of the festival, there are five venues operating simultaneously.

Sometimes enthusiasts choose one venue, where their favourite musicians are playing, and stay there all night. I prefer to flow.

This open-minded approach can throw up performances you might never have dreamed of from musicians you have never have heard of.

That is the magic of this festival.The main stage is set to be opened by 84-year-old world music pioneer Manu Dibango, with Moreira Chonguiça from Mozambique and his band of South African stars.

This is a rare chance to see Dibango in action.

“One of my proudest moments as festival director,” said Billy Domingo, “was the creation of our Legends performance slot, which has seen artists like the Mahotella Queens, Dorothy Masuka and Abigail Kubeka grace the CTIJF stage. This year, I’m very proud to welcome the legendary two-time Oscar nominee, veteran composer, trombonist, band leader and director Jonas Gwangwa.”

There will be many shades of South Africa’s rich musical legacy. One can go from the Sophiatown shuffle of Gwangwa to the township pop of Mango Groove and the enigmatic vocals of Tsepho Tshola.

Siya Makuzeni’s futuristic afro-jazz combines an old and new school approach. Newcomers to the big stage are VUDU from Port Elizabeth, winners of the espAfrika Young Legends talent search.

Host city sound, Cape Town goema jazz is exemplified by saxophonist Buddy Wells performing with his sextet.

The catch of the festival for world music lovers is Jokko. This collaboration bridges the music of Morocco, Senegal, Mozambique and Ivory Coast.

Remember, often the best shows happen at the official after parties. wwwAABBmorJnypmoAchCAsccNkxa?dl=0