Safaricom Jazz Nairobi: What an experience it was! A gospel according to Jazz

Safaricom's A Gospel According To Jazz. Image from

A couple of months ago I was relaxed on my couch checking on the latest news on my phone. As you know the world today, every day brings with a whole of new events and happenings. However, despite all the new happenings, one statement arrested my attention, and that was ‘Jazz rehearsals at MJ center. Out of curiosity I decided to look further into it and that was when I fully learnt that on 3rd Dec. there will be a jazz show, themed ‘A Gospel According to Jazz’ with Kirk Whalum headlining this particular edition. Potentash was giving away tickets and I was one of the lucky winners.

I braved the cold and chilly weather just to be at Carnivore grounds by 7pm to enjoy the show from the very beginning. Before settling down, I decided to sample some of the great foods beings served. The menu was just salivating from the grilled chicken to tasty burgers. Drinks were in plenty ranging from, cold beers (both local and international bands), whisky, soft drinks and even hot beverages. I opted to have a simple snack of burger, fries with salad and a warm cup of coffee and believe me the taste was more than yummy. Just as I was settling down on my seat, I decided to catch up with some long time friend whom we bumped into each and the feeling was just awesome.

When the 1st act of the evening i.e. Afrosync band from Kenya were invited on stage the mood was beginning to liven up. I know Kenyan bands play some good jazz but the Afrosync band performance was simply mature, classy and fresh. I was particularly amazed by Zach Amunga who pulled some quite impressive moves on the key board. After performing their last song, a resounding standing ovation was accorded to them which made the MC call them back on stage for one final song and as expected they never disappointed.

A brief break followed closely, and within a blink of an eye, we were drawn into a church mood, by a Grammy Award winner, a jazz great Kirk Whalum and oh my!! Mr. Whalum made a grand entry. As expected, Kenyans gave a resounding reception to the jazz greats who were on stage, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown and Gerald Albright. I couldn’t hold back the music effect and I found myself tapping my feet and within no time I was on my feet pulling some soft dance moves. One song that not only amused me but impressed me was ‘Tata you Jesus’ by Kevin Whalum, which was about how a child could express his love to God. The words though incomprehensible, but combined with gestures displayed by Kevin were expression of utmost love and quite humorous.

Kevin Whalum. Image from
Kevin Whalum. Image from

Every song Kirk Whalum played ended up with a resounding standing ovation from the audience and I kept on clapping and nodding my head while on my feet to appreciate such a jazz great. But two acts nearly stole the show, Gerald Albright, the saxophonist and Norman Brown, the guitarist who did more than just play their instruments but engaged the audience in clapping their hands to the rhythm of their tunes. This was an experience I would recommend to anyone who has had a long day in office, the cooling and relinquishing effect of jazz music is just adorable.

Safaricom's A Gospel According To Jazz. Image from
Safaricom’s A Gospel According To Jazz. Image from

Funny enough I was to report on duty the following day. Every time I said I to myself, I’m leaving after this song, but just as I was about to leave the drummist pulled a tempting stunt on the drum-set followed closely by Mr. Whalum and I couldn’t resist the temptation hence I found myself listening to more. I couldn’t resist the great music. It was an awesome experience and it was a night I will ever forget.

@Mwarv has some great pictures for the event. Check them out here.

Guest post by Bonface Akumu.

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Potentash Founder. A creative writer and editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories. Find me at [email protected]