As Safaricom International Jazz Festival celebrates five years, going into its sixth, the resounding phrase of the season remains, when we come together we can make great things happen. Either that or the succinct, Safaricom: transforming lives. And no, regardless of what it looks like, I’m not just saying that just because Safaricom is a huge part of how we keep the lights on. I’ll tell you what they’ve been up to particularly with this Jazz festival and you decide if they live up to their admittedly lofty taglines.
The Jazz Festival and the Ghetto Classics Program
The Safaricom International Jazz Festival is the brainchild of Bob Collymore of Safaricom. All the proceedings of the festival go to support disadvantaged children from Korogocho, Huruma, Dandora and Mukuru kwa Reuben among others via Elizabeth’s Ghetto Classics program. The Ghetto Classics program introduces the children to jazz and classical music, teaching them to play instruments that they otherwise may never have heard of much less learnt to love and play.
So far, the Safaricom International Jazz Festival has raised over 60 million shillings, all of which continues to go to the Ghetto Classics program and the children it supports. This year, the Ghetto Classics program is expanding to include Kisumu. Music has provided a much-needed lifeline for these children who live in what can only be described as dehumanizing conditions. Regardless of the many accurate critiques of corporate philanthropy and there are many, there’s something to be said for actively, intentionally lifting people out of such debilitating conditions.
Safaricom International Jazz Festival’s 2019 headline act is the multiple Grammy award winner Marcus Miller. He has an expansive and enviable musical portfolio as the winner of Holland’s Edison Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz (2013), winner of France’s Victoire du Jazz (2010), and he was appointed a UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2013. Other supporting acts slated to perform ahead of Miller are Toine Thys featuring Herve Samb, Jazzrausch Bigband, Omni Mor Trio, Vivian and Yazmin Lacey (UK), Kato Change, the Ghetto Classics, the Safaricom Youth Orchestra as well as Safaricom’s resident DJ, David Muriithi will feature.
Marcus Miller has been at the top of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival’s wish list since its inception in 2014 and it’s no wonder given his distinctive style and energy. He’s been described as one of the most significant players in Jazz, RnB, fusion and soul and has worked with numerous stars including Chaka Khan, saxophonist David Sanborn, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Elton John, Bryan Ferry and trumpeter Miles Davis. Here’s one of his electrifying live performances.
Kato Change – Kenya
Kato Change is a self-taught guitarist whose technique was nurtured by an emerging online community of musicians on YouTube. His self-directed style draws from a heritage of jazz legends as well as African, Flamenco, Blues and rock. He has been the Lead guitarist in African projects; Tusker Project Fame and Coke Studio Africa. He has played with Salif Keita, Seun Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Neyo, Aloe Blacc, Trey Songz, Yemi Alade and Fally Ipupa among others.
Check out his performance at the first Safaricom International Jazz Festival here.
Yazmin Lacey – United Kingdom
Born and bred in East London, but with musical roots firmly set in Nottingham, Yazmin Lacey has come a long way from recording music in her bedroom. Yazmin Lacey has been fusing her love of Lover’s Rock, hip-hop, jazz, Motown and electronics since 2013. Yazmin is credited for delivering stunning performances with her smoky, sultry vocals.
Check out Yazmin’s performance here.
Omri Mor – Israel
Omri Mor is a pianist, composer and arranger. His musical prowess ranges from Classical and Jazz to Arabo-andalusian music. Born in Israel in 1983, Omri began playing at age 7 by picking out tunes he liked at the keyboard. He had his first piano lessons at age 11. Around age 24, he began studying classical music and later performing at weekly gigs. Since then, Mor has continued to perform and record in various musical genres.
Check out the trio’s music here.
Nairobi Horns Project – Kenya
NHP is a band that brings together seasoned instrumentalists in Nairobi on drums, percussions, bass, guitar and keyboards. The band works to develop, perform and record original music work. As a social concern, Nairobi Horns Project uses music as a platform to engage young people in conversations and activities geared towards curating skills and knowledge, influencing opinions and nurturing values.
Toine Thys Trio – Belgium
Lead saxophonist Toine Thys brings his powerful trio to Kenya for the first time. The trio is recognized for their unique musical orchestration that combine saxophone, organ and drums (no bass). The trio’s performance is expected to deliver intoxicating melodies and adventurous solos that is derived from their multi-cultural influences. http://www.jazzsymphonic.com/2019/01/groove-to-marcus-miller-at-safaricom-jazz-festival-2019/
Check them out here.
Jazzarausch Bigband – Germany
It is the world first band that plays “Techno Jazz” without doing any music covers. JRBB is a professional ensemble from Munich. The band has revolutionized the German club scene with their inventive live performances.
Check them out here.
Date: Sunday 17th February 2019.
Venue: Kasarani Training Grounds
Entry Charges: KSH. 2,000 for adults and KSH. 500 for students (proof of ID must be provided)