Blog May 5, 2012
Capetown Jazz Festival Report
Continuing its history of success, the 13th edition of “Africa’s Grandest Gathering,” not only sold out, but the last tickets of the 40,000 three weeks in advance! As result, festival director Rashid Lombard and his team can hopefully look forward to the enlargement of the Cape Town International Convention Centre, home to the festival since 2004. While the actual festival takes place on the last weekend of March, many activities occur in the days immediately before it. Artists frequently arrive early for workshops and master classes, and courses in arts journalism and music business are made available. For the second time, people from the Berkley College of Music came all the way from Boston for two days of auditions in which young South African artists were able to apply for scholarships. Those who could not afford festival tickets, or those had simply missed their opportunity to purchase them, had a chance to see some of the performers from the festival at the traditional free concert held on Wednesday evening in Greenmarket Square. At the Convention Centre, a jazz exhibition featured works of photographers from South Africa and Angola.
Sandile GotsanaOne of the main highlights of this year’s festival came on the day following these performances. Over the last few years, Cape Town has lost many of its most famous jazz, most notably the Manenberg and the Green Dolphin. Finally, the residents have a new club, the Mahogany Room, located on Buitenkant Street in an area that is considered to be an up and coming “hip” neighborhood. The club was started at the end of 2011 by trumpeter Lee Thompson, drummer Kesivan Naidoo and his cousin, businessman Lawson Naidoo. The venue is tiny, (about 50 seats) but has both a Steinway grand piano on its stage and no shortage of excellent music between its walls. Among the famous artists that have already graced its stage are Hugh Masekela and his former fellow-student at the Manhattan School of music, pianist Larry Willis. On the night after the festival, they performed as a duo. In the early 2000s, Masekela owned the record company Chissa. However, due to mismanagement by the CEO, Chissa went broke a few years ago, and Hugh Masekela swore never to start a label again. Last year, his nephew Pius Mokgokong somehow persuaded his uncle to change his mind. The first release on the brand new HOM (House of Masekela) label is a box of four CD set of Jazz. Three of these were recorded with Larry Willis on the piano and “Brother Hugh” playing flugelhorn and occasional singing. This duo had their first live performance at the Mahogany Room, where they played to a small but electrified audience. Although it was for just 50 people instead of the 10,000 at the Convention Centre, it was the perfect finale to a weekend full of music! Contributed by Wolfgang König and special thanks to edelweiss air for helping Wolfgang with a ticket.