Standard Bank Joy of Jazz reinforces its status as South Africa’s foremost jazz festival, and one of the best on the African continent, thanks to a stellar line-up of musicians from around the globe.
Abdullah Ibrahim’s new solo program transcends category, combining the intimate and the universal in a unique way that is hinted at in its title. SENZO means “Ancestor” in both Chinese and Japanese. SENZO also echoes the name of Abdullah Ibrahim’s Sotho father, in whose language the word translates as “Creator”.
Abdullah Ibrahim, South Africa’s most distinguished pianist and a world-respected master musician, was born in 1934 in Cape Town and baptized Adolph Johannes Brand. His early musical memories were of traditional African Khoi-san songs and the Christian hymns, gospel tunes and spirituals that he heard from his grandmother, who was pianist for the local African Methodist Episcopalian church, and his mother, who led the choir. The Cape Town of his childhood was a melting-pot of cultural influences, and the young Dollar Brand, as he became known, was exposed to American jazz, township jive, CapeMalay music, as well as to classical music. Out of this blend of the secular and the religious, the traditional and the modern, developed the distinctive style, harmonies and musical vocabulary that are inimitably his own.
Bassist and composer Benjamin Jephta (23) has already made a name for himself as one of South Africa’s premier jazz double bass and electric bass players. A graduate of the jazz program at the prestigious South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town, he graduated in 2013 with the fourth year class medal. Jephta has performed with a range of local and international musicians including McCoy Mrubata, Sibongile Khumalo, Paul Hanmer, Feya Faku, Jimmy Dludlu, Simphiwe Dana, Mark Fransman, Hugh Masekela, Melanie Scholtz, Marcus Wyatt, Bokani Dyer and many others. He is involved in various original projects ranging from playing double bass in a free jazz orchestra to synth-bass in a pop band. He currently operates from Johannesburg.
Bhudaza Mapefane grew up in Lesotho,Leribe district;Hlotse in Mankoaneng. His appreciation for jazz music started at a young age while listening to hi father’s large jazz collection. At the age of 21,he met Mark Gormar who was an Economist at LNDC(Lesotho Nation Development Corporation);who gave him his first piano lessons at Victoria Hotel, Maseru. In 1985 Bhudaza explored his skills by doing his first professional performance at Victoria Hotel and Maseru Casino Hotel with Jazz Combo; a jazz group made up of David Mochoko Mapefane(his late older bother and mentor),Peter Rakhomo, Tau Malebo and Mpho Manoto.
In 1987 the jazz mogul enrolled at Mmabana Cultural Centre in Mmabatho to further his jazz piano lessons under the Molobye Brothers,Peter and Labane respectively. In 1988 he doubled up with saxophone from Rene’ McLean. Graduated in 1989,Bhudaza then joined Sankomota as a pianist. Later he became the band saxophonist. Eleven years later Bhudaza’s love for music plus experience ignited the spark in him to further his knowledge of music academically. During his final year at UCT,Bhudaza was called in to join Talima Jazz Band which formed part of the King of Lesotho; His Majesty King Letsie III’s entourage to the Germany Hannover Expo in 2000. Bhudaza completed his studies at UCT where he graduated in 2000 with a Diploma in Jazz Studies.
Branford Marsalis has stayed the course. From his early acclaim as a saxophonist bringing new energy and new audiences to jazz, he has refined and expanded his talents and his horizons as a musician, composer, bandleader and educator – a 21st Century mainstay of artistic excellence.
Growing up in the rich environment of New Orleans as the oldest son of pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, Branford was drawn to music along with siblings Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. His first instrument, the clarinet, gave way to the alto and then the tenor and soprano saxophones when the teenage Branford began working in local bands. A growing fascination with jazz as he entered college gave him the basic tools to obtain his first major jobs, with trumpet legend Clark Terry and alongside Wynton in Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers. When the brothers left to form the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, the world of uncompromising acoustic jazz was invigorated. Branford formed his own quartet in 1986 and, with a few minor interruptions in the early years, has sustained the unit as his primary means of expression. Known for the telepathic communication among its uncommonly consistent personnel, its deep book of original music replete with expressive melodies and provocative forms, and an unrivaled spirit in both live and recorded performances, the Branford Marsalis Quartet has long been recognized as the standard to which other ensembles of its kind must be measured.
Brenda Mtambo a vocal sensation has always dreamed of being a powerhouse singer from an early age, growing up in Umlazi, south of Durban, Brenda moved to Johannesburg to finish her Bachelor of Commerce. Her big break in music happened when she joined the award winning gospel group Joyous Celebration and since then she has never looked back.
Her fans describe Brenda Mtambos voice as “never been heard before” the afro soul singer’s energy and upbeat vocals oozes her passion for music and desire to do “So much more”
Ixesha Lami is Brenda’s first single off her latest album “So Much More”, this album reflects on an unhealthy relationship, which she dared to walk away from. Not just an anthem for women, this is a song for everyone who’s just had enough of something that’s been working against their joy!
The album includes songs such as Busezweni, Ungayeki and Themba Njalo. All of which are currently being played in high rotation on national radio stations such as Metro FM, Kaya FM and Ukhozi FM.
“So Much More” is a departure from Mtambo’s gospel roots, allowing her to express her own distinctive Afro soul voice. Brenda accredits being able to explore her musical passions is a result of her growing self-confidence and experience. The success of this album saw her being nominated against heavy weights in the category Best Urban Jazz and Best Female in the MMA16 Awards.
How do we begin to describe someone who exudes the soul of Etta James, encapsulates the spirit of Busi Mhlongo, and oozes the brilliance of Dorothy Masuku? Brenda Mtambo… a voice like no other!
Self-exiled from South Africa in the 1960s, South African music legend Caiphus Semenya has built a solid reputation as a musical director and composer, working with his wife, vocalist Letta Mbulu, as well as with Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba. After moving to Los Angeles, Semenya found himself working with and composing for a broad range of jazz and pop artists, including Nina Simone and Cannonball Adderley and he established a long-time collaboration with Quincy Jones, resulting in Semenya providing compositions for the scores to ‘Roots’ and ‘The Color Purple’, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He later worked on the score to Disney's ‘The Lion King’. Since his return to South Africa in 1990, he has re-established himself as a central pillar of our music.
Christian McBride is a five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning bassist/composer who, since the early ‘90s, has recorded over 300 dates as a sideman and released albums as a leader since ’95.
Aside from various stints with Sting, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, John McLaughlin, and George Duke, among others, McBride has been artist-in-residence and artistic director with organizations such as Jazz Aspen, Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Jazz Museum in Harlem, Jazz House Kids, and NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center - Newark).
McBride tours consistently with his trio and his quintet, Inside Straight. He also fronts the Christian McBride Big Band, whose Mack Avenue Records recording, The Good Feeling, won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2012—his third win overall.
In addition, McBride hosts a show on Sirius/XM and DJs at clubs as DJ Brother Mister. McBride was recently named host of “Jazz Night in America,” a new program from NPR Music and WBGO that showcases today’s thriving jazz scene.
Composer, author and arranger, actress too, Elisabeth Kontomanou was born in France, a Greek mother and a Guinean father - disappeared too soon. She evokes with tenderness two precise memories of her early childhood, which demonstrate both the precocity of her vocation and the importance that music and singing assumed very early in her eyes - soft refuges, niches wadded, delicious communication tools for The child who, until his third year, was incapable of speaking. At the age of four, she discovered the Callas (New-Yorker, of Greek origin too) on the small screen, which she later endeavored to imitate with the candor of her age.
Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned flugelhornist, trumpeter, bandleader, composer, singer and defiant political voice who remains deeply connected at home, while his international career sparkles. He was born in the town of Witbank, South Africa in 1939. At the age of 14, the deeply respected advocator of equal rights in South Africa, Father Trevor Huddleston, provided Masekela with a trumpet and, soon after, the Huddleston Jazz Band was formed. Masekela began to hone his, now signature, Afro-Jazz sound in the late 1950s during a period of intense creative collaboration, most notably performing in the 1959 musical King Kong, written by Todd Matshikiza, and, soon thereafter, as a member of the now legendary South African group, the Jazz Epistles (featuring the classic line up of Kippie Moeketsi, Abdullah Ibrahim and Jonas Gwangwa).
Hugh is currently using his global reach to spread the word about heritage restoration in Africa – a topic that remains very close to his heart.
“My biggest obsession is to show Africans and the world who the people of Africa really are,”
Masekela confides – and it’s this commitment to his home continent that has propelled him forward since he first began playing the trumpet.
In rare circumstances, on only an anomalous occasion does the universe produce incomparable talent of this particular caliber. A jazz musician soundly accomplished in his field. Not many can live up to and exceed the title of Legend, Jonas Gwangwa embraces this with great charisma and humility. When asked about his music he simply replies, “I just make good music”. He has an expansive look and feel of music, just when one had found a fitting designation for his works, he returns with sounds that surprise, entice and resonate with one’s soul. For over 40 years this South African paragon has thrilled audiences around the world with his artistry as a trombonist/composer and all around creative genius.
The span of his musical career and the range of his accomplishments had him transverse the world as an exiled MK soldier, collecting accolades at every stop along the way. He is the first African across the expanse of the continent to be nominated for an Oscar twice, for the original Score of the film Cry Freedom starring Denzel Washington. The score also achieved The Grammy, Bafta, Golden Globe and Anthony Asquith award nominations and won Ivor Novello and Black Emmy Awards.
Joshua Redman is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz artists to have emerged in the decade of the 1990s. Born in Berkeley, California, he is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff. He was exposed at an early age to a variety of musics (jazz, classical, rock, soul, Indian, Indonesian, Middle-Eastern, African) and instruments (recorder, piano, guitar, gatham, gamelan), and began playing clarinet at age nine before switching to what became his primary instrument, the tenor saxophone, one year later. The early influences of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cannonball Adderley and his father, Dewey Redman, as well as The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, the Temptations, Earth, Wind and Fire, Prince, The Police and Led Zeppelin drew Joshua more deeply into music. But although Joshua loved playing the saxophone and was a dedicated member of the award-winning Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble and Combo from 1983-86, academics were always his first priority, and he never seriously considered becoming a professional musician.
Saxophonist and vocalist, Lance Bryant comes out of Markham, Illinois, a small town near Chicago. He received his formal music education at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he studied saxophone and, composition and arranging. After moving to New York City in the mid. 1980s, Lance continued his education, studying saxophone and arranging privately with Frank Foster, the former director of the Count Basie Orchestra. He also studied composition with Bruce Adolphe of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society. In 1990 Lance began his decade- long relationship with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and in 1993 became the Orchestra's Musical Director and Principal Arranger. Lance also made his film debut in Spike Lee's Malcolm X and traveled extensively with Phyllis Hyman, Jon Hendricks, Pete "LaRocca" Sims, Wallace Roney, Abdulah Ibrahim, Bootsy Collins, James Williams and others. In the early summer of 2000, Lance was selected as an on-stage musician for the Broadway production of the musical review Swing!, which received six Toni nominations. Throughout his music career, Lance's talents as an arranger, composer, saxophonist or vocalist have been featured on many projects like: For the Love of Jazz on Mojazz Records (Lionel Hampton) and Dem Bones and Simply Natural on MaxJazz Records for Grammy nominated vocalist Carla Cook, and more recently on drummer Yoron Israel’s latest release, “Visions, the Music of Stevie Wonder”.
Lance’s earliest musical experience was established while growing up in the Baptist Church. His connection with spirituality and music has endured. In 2002 he released Psalm, the first of four CDs featuring original songs, and jazz arrangements of hymns and Spirituals.
Lance’s most recent teaching work has included woodwind instructor for Covenant Christian Academy in Peabody, MA, director of the Phillips Academy Gospel Choir in Andover MA, Berklee’s Saxophone Weekend for the Berklee College of Music summer program, and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy program. Recent Broadway experience includes the musical After Midnight with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Shuffle Along, featuring Tony Award winner Audra MacDonald. Currently Lance is touring with the newly re- formed Lionel Hampton Big Band featuring Jason Marsalis and with pianist/composer Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya.
After a year long sabbatical, Soul singer and songwriter Maleh has come back with her
long awaited, second offering titled “ You Make My Heart Go”.
Her singing career began in her final high school year when she joined Afro pop group Khaya, which later went on to win a Metro Fm Award in the Best newcomer’s category in 2005. She later left Khaya to further her studies at a film college in Johannesburg, where she majored in Cinematography
In 2010, working as a production coordinator at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, she was inspired to officially launch her solo music career. She set off to feature on several successful dance tracks, highlights include her collaboration with South Africa’s DJ Kent on the song "Falling" which instantly put her on the international map.
Philadelphia native Taalib Johnson a.k.a Musiq Soulchild, is a soul artist whose unique style blends R&B, Soul, Funk, Rock, Blues, Jazz, and Hip Hop, creating a sound unlike any other. “I consider myself a soul artist because it encompasses all genres of music!" Musiq states “I like to make music that means something to people, nowadays there are so many categories and labels, I just wanna make music that matters!”
Musiq is the eldest of nine children “I always saw myself as the black sheep of the family; I was always doing my own thing!” At a young age Musiq decided he would not continue his high school education, this proved to make his road to success much more difficult "I really wish I stayed, cause even though I didn't like it that much I still could've taken advantage of the many resources that being in school has to offer!” When Musiq was 17 he left home to live life on his own terms, finding himself having to depend on the kindness of friends, and sometimes strangers, as he struggled with everyday survival "Man, I did what I had to, I slept on couches, the bus, the train, the park, whatever, it didn't matter, I just knew things wasn't gonna be that way forever!” It was during that time Musiq started to build a reputation for being musically gifted, beat boxing for MC's, free styling on the open mic circuit, scatting at a jazz club, or just performing a cappella in the streets of Philadelphia, which is where he got the name " Musiq " and later he added " Soulchild " which is intended to respect and represent the legacy and traditions of past great soul stars.
Salif Keita came into the world both cursed and blessed. With each ordeal, its salvation; with each new obstacle, some inspired ruse or unstinting strength to continue his path. And here lies the enigma. For example, how could he accept being disowned by a father who refused the inevitability of an albino son? What reply could he give to face the hostility of his own caste when he, a Keita, chose to become a musician? The domain he was entering was strictly forbidden to the Mandingo nobles to whom he belonged. If living means knowing how to solve paradoxes, then Salif Keita is more alive than any of us. Having black parents, but being born white; bearing both a king’s name and the burden of a beggar’s fate… those are extremely discordant experiences, capable of either destroying a soul or of making it invincible. Yet with Salif things didn’t stop there.
This miraculous, wild and solitary survivor also became the most emblematic artist in a whole continent. And today, with the appearance of his new album M’Bemba, he’s established himself as the artisan of the renaissance in traditional African sounds, even though he’s spent the best part of his career elsewhere, in Europe and The United States, in search of his musical salvation. This is his destiny, and it is not a common one.
Selaelo Selota can be read like a classical South African tale of the mining heydays – a young man determined to defy lack and deprivation joining the throngs of men that converged in the many mining towns all over the country in search of a better tomorrow. Like many young people in the mid‐80’s, Selaelo Selota’s dream of furthering his studies was shattered when he did not have financial resources to go to tertiary, instead he went on to find employment in mining.
Undeterred, he found his passion in the strangest of ways, which ironically is also the luminous career that it is today. The former gold miner is now mining the same precious metal, but armed with a guitar rather than a drill. It was during the time spent living amongst the migrant workers in the mines that Selaelo Selota was exposed to traditional songs and dances from many other South African tribal groups and – this is where his inspiration for his music is found.
With an illustrious career in music spanning over 20 years – the multi‐talented Selaelo Selota has recorded and produced five (6) award‐winning albums for himself – namely; Painted Faces (debut album recording platinum status with sales in excess of 60 000 units), Enchanted Gardens (also sold over 60 000 units), Stories Lived and Told, The Azanian Songbook, Lapeng Laka and the latest The Promise.
Born in Illinois, the daughter of immigrants from Uganda and Rwanda, Somi's American experience has always been infused with the African diaspora's richest political and artistic traditions. And now Petite Afrique combines the two facets of her life magically. A longtime Harlem resident, Somi is also a true Africanist: she spent part of her youth in Africa with her parents and now, with her band, tours the continent extensively. Famously, Somi's dazzling 2014 album, The Lagos Music Salon, which debuted at the top of US Jazz charts, was born from an 18-month "sabbatical" in Lagos, Nigeria.
Founder of New Africa Live, a nonprofit championing her fellow African artists, Somi realized some years ago that she was explicitly segmenting her work for the communities she came from and the work that she did as an artist. "I realized," Somi details, "that I could still curate a sense of community in the same, and possibly larger, ways through my music." Now a TED Senior Fellow, her career a refined merger of singing and activism, Somi has entered a fascinating new phase herself: "New Africa Live was about making room for our voices that might otherwise go unheard. Hopefully, Petite Afrique starts larger conversations about immigration and xenophobia and Blackness."
Thandiswa Mazwai is one of the most influential musicians on the South African music scene today. She began her career in 1998 with Bongo Maffin, one of the pioneering bands of Kwaito. After 6 award winning albums with Bongo Maffin she ventured onto a solo career. Her first project ‘Zabalaza’ (2004), reached double platinum status and won numerous awards including a Kora award for Best African Female Artist and Four South African Music Awards. It was also nominated for the BBC Radio 3 Planet Awards. Her critically acclaimed second album ‘Ibokwe’ (2009) reached gold status in the first few weeks of its release and her recent live DVD ‘Dance of the Forgotten Free’ (2010) won South African Music Awards for Best Female Artist and Best Live DVD in 2011. The Guardian recently called her “South Africa's finest female contemporary singer.”
Thandiswa has performed all over the world at venues including: the FIFA 2010 World Cup Opening Ceremony, The Apollo Theatre, Radio City Hall, Womex, The Cannes Film Festival, The Barbican, Africa Brazil Festival, Fespaco Film Festival, BBC World Music Awards and several Mandela 46664 concerts. She has shared the stage with Salif Keita, Skunk Anansie, Cesaria Evora, Stevie wonder, Angelique Kidjo and many others. At home, Thandiswa has collaborated with several musicians like Hugh Masekela, Stimela, the late Busi Mhlongo, and the BLK JKS. Her creativity has led to collaboration with stellar international artists too. For instance, Thandiswa collaborated on two songs with US musician Meshell N’degeoCello on her album 'The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams' which was nominated for a Grammy in 2007. Most recently, she featured on Paul Simon’s Graceland 25th Anniversary Tour, performing to audiences all over Europe.
The Clayton Brothers
John and Jeff Clayton made their first recording together in the late 1970s and so marks the official inception of The Clayton Brothers as a working ensemble. At that time it was a quintet with Patrice Rushin on piano and Ron Eschete on guitar, and Jeff Hamilton on drums. Over the next ten years they played occasional gigs but all were busy pursuing their own individual careers. In 1985, when John left his five-year stint with the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and re-located back in California, the group re-formed, this time with Bill Cunliffe on piano. Terell Stafford joined the group in 2000. Today the Grammy nominated quintet is an ever-evolving work-in-progress, fueled by the cohesion and creativity of the two brothers and now invigorated by new young blood - John's son Gerald on piano and Obed Calvaire on drums (both of whom joined the group in 2008). The fifth chair is still held by seasoned trumpeter Terell Stafford, a renowned band leader and educator in his own right. In addition to guiding the quintet's journey of musical growth, the brothers believe in sharing what it is they know. Their dedication as jazz educators leads them to participate in workshops and music clinics around the world.
The Power Trio
Motéma Music is proud to present Perfection, the debut recording of the recently formed jazz supergroup comprised of reedman David Murray, pianist Geri Allen and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. Perfection (April 15, 2016) was recorded just a week after the passing of Ornette Coleman and is named for a previously unrecorded Coleman composition. The trio wanted to pay tribute to one of the greatest musicians of all time and Murray brought forth the idea of recording “Perfection.” Coleman was a great friend and teacher to Murray, and Allen recorded and toured with Coleman for several years.
The artists dedicated songs on the album to Coleman and to other heroes who passed on in 2016: Marcus Belgrave, Charlie Haden and Father Peter O’Brien, the confidante/manager of Mary Lou Williams. Carrington dedicated one of her compositions to Wayne Shorter, one of the greatest living jazz masters, with whom Carrington joined on tour for nearly ten years beginning in 1987.
Each of Perfection’s leaders – Murray, Allen and Carrington – has their own loyal following and a sterling reputation for prolific creativity and innovation. Each has achieved considerable artistic heights and is a renowned educator. This debut signals a new chapter in the long history of successful collaborations between Allen and Carrington and is the first collaboration that adds the unique sound of Murray. A collection of deeply poetic and expansive 21st century jazz, the recording showcases original compositions by each artist and arrangements created specifically for this unusual configuration of saxophone, piano and drums.
The group was brought together by Murray to perform for the first time at Winter Jazzfest in New York City in January 2015. The rousing response of that first collaboration led to more touring and to this powerful recording. As explained in the liner notes, We wanted to present a ‘power house’ of sound that represents who we are individually and collectively, and that exemplifies our affiliation with the traditions of jazz, as well as the influence of what’s happening in jazz today. It’s important for artists to continuously stretch themselves in order to continue to have something to say and to share…This trio, without bass, challenges each of us to engage ourselves differently than we have done in other groups or musical formats.
In 2001, 2 time SAMA Award winner Tutu Puoane finished her vocal studies at the music college of the university of cape town (UCT), she turned down a big contract with a major South African record company and decided instead to grab with both hands a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity : she accepted a most generous offer of Dutch pianist Jack van Poll – who was living and teaching in cape town at the time – to go and study in Europe in order to develop to the fullest her unique talents as a jazz vocalist and performer. This brave decision shows already some special aspects of Puoaneʼs character: strength, determination and an ability to dream beyond the obvious. Today, miss Puoane has grown into a skilled and experienced singer and performer, having gained respect in Europe from musicians and audiences alike.
Zoe Modiga was born Palesa Nomthandazo Phumelele Modiga in Overport, Durban and raised in Pietermaritzburg. Her love for music at a very young age encouraged her to attend the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, Johannesburg where she studied classical piano, clarinet and vocals. Her time at the school provided an excellent platform to pursue music as a passion and career in her later years. She is currently completing her degree in jazz vocals at the South African College of Music, UCT.
Over the past few years, with some experience behind her, this singer-songwriter’s talent has opened a number of doors in the music industry. Zoe has been fortunate enough to be part of celebrated festivals such as the Aardklop Festival, Artscape Youth Jazz Festival, UCT Jazz Festival, Joy of Jazz and The Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the winner of the Jazz Category of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition 2015 . On these respected platforms she has had the privilege of sharing stages with the likes of Lira, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Louis Maholo, Gloria Bosman, Matthew Gold, The Kiffness, Breakfast Included, the Frank Paco Art Ensemble, Mark Fransman, Sibusiso Dhlamini, Marcus Wyatt, Benjamin Jephta, Tshepo Tsotetsi and many more.
Despite sharing the stage with a number of performers, Zoe’s pursuit for her own identity became a strong force in these collaborations. She aspires to pursue a multifaceted career where her singing, songwriting and performing is challenged, revered, inspired and influential.
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