Jazz is upon us everywhere and it teaches us many things beyond the sounds; it teaches us how to feel. There’s always something magical that happens when highly accomplished musicians perform jazz together and that’s the magic that will be brought to Nairobi this week for the Safaricom International Jazz Festival.
This Sunday, the 26th of February will see one of the most distinctive saxophonists in contemporary music since the late 70’s David Sanborn together with Taxi Wars from Belgium, the all-girl trio The Hazelnuts from Israel, British-Asian clarinetist Arun Ghosh, South African Bokani Dyer and Ray Lema & Saka Saka Band from the Democratic Republic of Congo who will make up the star studded line-up, alongside Kenyan bands Shamsi Music, Nairobi Horns Project and Mwai and The Truth bringing jazz music to life once more at the Kasarani Training Grounds.
In response to the growing love and desire to have a more innate jazz experience for both the existing and current jazz lovers as well as have the partners of Safaricom Jazz showcase their music and culture through the artists being brought in for the festival, Safaricom will this time host a VIP show, several cultural nights and a schools show targeting younger music lovers and students, all in addition to the main event.
This time, the Festival will feature pure jazz and R&B elements as expressed by David Sanborn; as well as a unique paring of swing music and contemporary pop music from The Hazelnuts, who are known for their jazz covers of contemporary musicians such as Beyoncé’s Single Ladies. It will provide the unique opportunity for the performing artists to explore, create and communicate with each other and their various audiences on the fundamental elements that makes jazz music such an acclaimed genre.
Speaking on this, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said that the line-up this time has been specifically tailored to meet the varied tastes of the growing community of Safaricom Jazz fans, from the purists to those who prefer something more contemporary, this year’s line-up will cater to all.
Taxi wars describe their music as the kind of jazz that makes believers out of non-believers. Featuring former Deus front man Tom Barman, Saxophonist Robin Verheyen, bassist Nicolas Thys and drummer Antione Pierre; they combine lyrics, poetry and jazz with a rock intensity that makes their music.
The all-girl group The Hazelnuts are a one-of-a-kind musical phenomenon in the Israeli musical scene. The combination of their tight vocal harmony, inspired by the singing trios of the 1930s keeps their audiences on their feet and also makes their music so exhilarating.
Named as Jazz Instrumentalist of the year at the 2014 APPJA/Parliamentary Jazz UK awards, Arun Ghosh is a British-Asian clarinetist, composer and music educator. Born in Calcutta, raised in Manchester and now living in London, his music reflects just part of his rich heritage that is expressed with a mint of creativity, passion and freedom. In 2008, he was selected for Edition IV of the Jerwood/PRS foundation ‘Take Five’ initiative for emerging jazz musicians produced by Serious.
Multi-award winning Bokani Dyer’s music is appreciated all over the world for its emotional depth, sophisticated concepts and a voice that celebrates all music with no borders. Some of his appearances include playing at the opening of the London Jazz festival in 2015 and in Bremen, Germany in 2016.
Raymond Lema A’nsi Nzinga popularly known as Ray Lema is a Congolese pianist, guitarist and songwriter. He recorded his first album in 1979 when he was invited by the Rockefeller Foundation and has gone on to make many other hit wonders. In 2009, he created the ‘Saka Saka Orchestra’ from the name of the national dish of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Saka Saka combines the rhythms of the Congolese rumba and polyphonies of the pygmies that clearly bring to life the traditional rhythms from Congo and central Africa as sampled here.
71 year old David Sanborn is revered all over the world as not just one of the greatest saxophonists of all time known for his masterful blend of traditional jazz, instrumental pop and soulful R&B of the past 20 years, but also one of the world’s best performers who has helped define the saxophone’s modern sound while warming the hearts of millions worldwide. Here are some facts about the marvel that is David Sanborn:
- He has released over 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards including one for Voyeur in 1981 and has had eight Gold albums and one Platinum album.
- He contracted polio at the age of three and as part of his therapy to strengthen his weakened chest muscles and improve his breathing, he was introduced to the saxophone. He went on to play with legends such as Albert King and Little Milton by the age of 14.
- His first album Taking Off was released in 1975 which is still considered a classic and is one of the pieces he has created that solidified his career till this day.
- One of his singles ‘All I Need is You’ went one to win his first Grammy award for Best R&B Instrumental performance.
- David has performed on both radio & television broadcasts and has also acted as a host. In the late 1980s, he was a regular guest member of Paul Shaffer’s band on Late Night with David Letterman in the 90s.
- In 1983, he branched off into a new artistic direction; acting, which saw him score his first acting roll in the Italian film ‘Stelle Sulla Citta’ for which he also performed the soundtrack. It was also in 1983 when he released his landmark Backstreet album which was a major hit in the world of contemporary jazz.
- Sanborn continues to be one of the most highly acclaimed musicians of his genre with tours in the year 2010 alone exceeding 150. He has also shared the stage with great artists like the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Luther Vandross, David Bowie, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.
As is the tradition, all proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the Ghetto Classics, a non-profit program that teaches music skills to youth from underprivileged backgrounds. The proceeds have also allowed the program to expand to Mombasa, where Ghetto Classics intends to replicate its success.