June 17, 2015

This year's Standard Bank Jazz Festival is expected to draw music lovers from around the country, thanks to its mix of solid jazz and fresh crossover and contemporary sounds provided by the likes of Beatenberg, Mi Casa, Thandiswa Mazwai , Kunle Ayo, Ray Phiri and Oliver Mtukudzi.

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival runs in Grahamstown as part of the National Arts Festival from 2 to 11 July. 

The award-winning Beatenberg is a fresh new face in local music that exploded onto the music scene in 2014. They are, in their own words, "creating and defining a new South African sound that pays homage to our country's musical heritage whilst also breaking new ground with an unmistakably global pop sensibility". The band consists of Matthew Field on vocals and guitar, Ross Dorkin on bass and Robin Brink on drums.

Beatenberg scooped seven awards at the 2015 South African Music Awards (SAMAs), including four awards shared with DJ Clock forPluto (Remember You) along with Best Pop Album, Best Duo/Group and Album of the Year forThe Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg. The band was also nominated for five Metro FM awards in 2014, including Best African Pop Album, Best Hit Single (Rafael), Song of the Year (Rafael), Best Duo/Group and Best Collaboration.

Field is delighted to be returning to Grahamstown: "The last time I appeared here was as a young member of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band," he said.

Mi Casa, one of the biggest dance bands in South Africa today, comprises three core members - Dr Duda (piano), J'Something (vocalist and guitarist) and trumpeter Mo-T. The group's debut albumMi Casa Musicwent gold and won three awards at the SAMAs in 2012. They were also nominated for three awards at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards. Also appearing as part of their once-off Grahamstown performance on 10 July is Kabelo Seleke (sax), Carlo Jooste (bass) and Thomas Akuru (percussion)

Jazz, fusion and mbaqanga musician and guitarist Ray Phiri needs little introduction. He was a founding member of The Cannibals before starting Stimela, with whom he conceived a number of gold and platinum-selling albums. In 1985, Paul Simon asked Phiri to join hisGracelandproject. Phiri was to collaborate with Simon again on hisRhythm of the Saintsalbum, which saw him perform on stages at Central Park and Madison Square Garden. In 2012, Simon organised aGracelandanniversary tour including Phiri, who is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver awarded to him by the South African president.

Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi is regarded as Zimbabwe's most renowned cultural icon. His has become the most recognised voice to emerge from Zimbabwe onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond. A member of Zimbabwe's KoreKore group, with Nzou Samanyanga as his totem, he sings in the nation's dominant Shona language, along with Ndebele and English. He also incorporates elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as Tuku Music.

Thandiswa Mazwai began her career in 1998 with Bongo Maffin, one of the pioneering bands of kwaito and, after six award-winning albums, embarked on a solo career. She has won numerous awards, including a Kora Award for Best African Female Artist and four SAMAs. The Guardian recently called her "South Africa's finest female contemporary singer."

Multi-award winning Nigerian jazz musician Kunle Ayo is increasingly one of Africa's most celebrated guitarists and has been compared to George Benson. He has released six albums to date and has performed around the African diaspora as well as in the UK.

Other international artists at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival include the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, regarded as one of the premier contemporary big bands in the world; Dutch saxophonist Yuri Honing; Swedish greats' trombonist Peter Dahlgren and saxophonist Johan Hörlén and West African guitarist Lionel Loueke.

The full jazz programme is available online at and

Tickets to the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown are available at  Festival programmes and booking kits are available at Exclusive Books branches or from select Standard Bank branches (see list below).

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