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2020 ARTISTS BIOGRAPHIES

​IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

SECOND ARTISTS ANNOUNCED

BOMBSHELTER BEAST

SA

This genre-busting music collective presents a unique approach to the South African sound. Bombshelter Beast comprises of some of South Africa’s most innovative musicians: Pule, Dionne Song, Mihi Matshingana, Alex Hitzeroth, Sisonke Xonti, Janus VD Merwe, Marcus Wyatt, Speedy Kobak, Justin Sasman, Etinne Mecloen, Romy Brauteseth, Kuba Silkiewicz, Hugo de Waal, Riaan van Rensburg, Erica Louw and Gavan Eckhart. 

Genres are blended together with a fresh original sound, and you’ll hear notes from old school kwaito and house, to boeremusiek and ghoema. Bombshelter Beast have worked with local music talents such as Pitch Black Afro, Nomadic Orchestra and Sho Madjozi. 

GRASSY SPARK

SA

Grassy Spark is a collection of musicians – Yanick Bathfield, Josh Riley, Simon Ackermann, Kevin Kok and Lawrence Jaeger – with a passion for groove. The band borrows from Ska, Reggae, Latin, Rock and Funk to create a unique sound that embodies the diversity of culture found in their hometown of Cape Town.  Since their formation in 2012, when the five artists created an album in a makeshift home studio and received over 1000 downloads in their first week, the band has gone on to perform their refreshing, foot-stompin’ sound at several festival on the South African music calendar. 

JONAS GWANGWA TRIBUTE

SA

JONAS GWANGWA TRIBUTE.

KUAETNIKA

INDONESIA

Kuaetnika is one of Indonesia’s most well-known and unique music ensembles. They bring foot-tapping, jazzy pop tunes powered by strong percussion, which can quickly turn into beautiful melodies that excite the auditory imagination. Their music both draws from the past and takes inspiration from today’s popular forms. Rooted in Indonesia’s long history of inter-cultural contact and assimilation with India, China, Europe and the Middle East, Kuaetnika creates adventurous arrangements of well-known songs of the East, the West and elsewhere. These lavish interpretations not only show their versatility, but also capture their ability to retain the nuances and power of traditional and ethnic sounds. 

SOUNDS OF BRASS

SA

Sounds of Brass is a collaboration between some of South Africa’s most talented brass instrumentalists, in which musicians are respectful of the past yet unafraid to push boundaries. Trumpet player/composer Marcus Wyatt brings almost 30 years of experience to the stage, and has played with the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim, Miriam Makeba, John Faddis and Steve Turre. He is joined by saxophonist and 2020 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz Sisonke Xonti. Bringing his years of expertise to the band is saxophonist Don Vino, who is the resident saxophonist of Johnathan Butler’s band. Georgia Jones, an alto and baritone saxophonist, and Byron Abrahams, saxophonist and singer, complete the band’s complement.

EARL SWEATSHIRT

USA

American rapper Earl Sweatshirt (Thebe Neruda Kgositsile), who recently released his EP Feet of Clay, using his music to untap deeper issues such as depression and loss, through the poetic talent inherited from his father, Keorapetse “Bra Willie” Kgositsile. After releasing his debut mixtape, Earl, in 2010 at the age of 16, the teen took a two-year gap in music creation while at a boarding school. When he returned home, and to the music team, he re-joined alternative hip hop collective Odd Future, with whom he had started working in 2009 along with Tyler, the Creator. He has since released another two albums alongside his EP. 

JOEL ROSS

USA

Joel Ross, the most thrilling new vibraphonist in America, grew up in a quiet Chicago South Side neighbourhood, where he began playing drums at church from a young age. He and his twin brother progressed to school and multi-school bands, where Ross took up xylophone and later on vibraphone. 

Following training with the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet at University of the Pacific, Ross went on to create bands ranging from quartets to large ensembles. The Brooklyn-based player and composer has worked with artists such as Makaya McCraven, Walter Smith III, Matthew Stevens, Marquis Hill, Peter Evans and James Francies. He joined Blue Note Records in 2019. 

JUDITH SEPHUMA

SA

Multi-award winning artist Judith Sephuma has continued to dominate airwaves for close to two decades.  Since the release of her triple platinum-status debut album titled A Cry, A Smile, A Dance in 2001, Judith has attracted interest and acclaim from Jazz, Afro-soul and Gospel music lovers all over the world.  

Sephuma has worked with and shared the stage with international artists like Bebe Winans, Oletta Adams, Jonathan Butler, Al Jarreau, Randy Crawford and Chaka Khan. Her eighth album, titled Power of Dreams, was launched last year. She has performed at some of the greatest jazz festivals around the world. 

MANOU GALLO

COTE D'IVOIRE

Manou Gallo, born in 1972 in Ivory Coast, is a virtuoso and her unique talent is rich with the heritage of her origin of the Djiboi tribe. She plays the tambour (percussion drums) which is normally only reserved and allowed for men in the Ivorian culture. When she discovered the bass guitar, she brough this knowledge with her, transforming it into a percussion instrument. The award-winning bassist joined world music band Zap Mama and moved to Belgium in 2003. She has collaborated with the likes of Manu Dibango, Mamady Keita, Wyclef Jean, Marcus Miller and Lucas van Meerwijk. 

THE UNITY BAND

SA

A young vibrant collective formed at the UCT South African Collage of Music, The Unity Band draws inspiration from Jazz, Fusion, Hip Hop, African and World Music to create a sound reflective of the cultural diversity of South Africa. Comprised of sought after musicians Lumanyano Mzi  (Drums/Vocals/Bandleader), Stephen “Stevovo” de Souza (Bass), Thandeka Dladla (Vocals),  Lonwabo Diba Mafani (Piano/Keys), Dylan Fine (Guitar), Marco Maritz (Trumpet), Lilavan Gangen  (Percussion) and Ofentse Moshwetsi (Alto Saxophone), The Unity band has become a fixture at jazz clubs and festivals. They have performed with McCoy Mrubata and Mandisi Dyantyis, both playing original music and as well as paying homage to music greats. 

EZRA COLLECTIVE

UK

Ezra Collective’s sound is rooted in classic jazz but features strong influences from Afrobeat and Hip Hop to create a sound that speaks to their home of London. Consisting of Femi Koleoso (Drums), TJ Koleoso (Bass), Joe Armon Jones (Keys), Dylan Jones (Trumpet) and James Mollison (Saxophone), Ezra Collective released their first EP, “Chapter 7” in 2016 and was awarded Best Jazz Album at the Worldwide Awards in 2018 for their second EP, “The Philosopher”. Dubbed as ‘pioneering a new wave of UK jazz”, this five-piece band released their full-length debut in 2019 and has collaborated with the likes of Loyle Carner, Jorja Smith, and Kokoroko. 

JOHAN LAAS

SA

Playing piano from the age of three, Johan Lass joined his father’s band when he was 15, where he played piano, bass, guitar and drums. Entering a career as a session musician, composer and arranger, Lass has also produced albums for local and international artists. Lass has been nominated for nine Artes Award and has won one. 

He joined the “Idols” team as Musical Director in 2002 and has worked with, among others, Soweto String Quartet, The Afro Tenors, Steve Hofmeyr, The Parlotones, Judy Page, Kim Kallie and Michael de Pinna. In 2019 he selected top session musicians and formed a new six-piece Jazz-Fusion band “The Laas Resort”.  

KOKOROKO

UK

All-star band KOKOROKO, formed in 2014, features leading lights from the London jazz community: led by Sheila Maurice-Grey (Trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi (Saxophone); Richie Seivwright (Trombone); Tobi Adenaike (Guitar), Yohan Kebede (Keys), Mutale Chashi (Bass), Onome Edgeworth (Percussion) and Ayo Salawu (Drums). Embodying experimental rhythms and sounds from West Africa, the band is named after the Urhobo – a Nigerian tribe and language – the word meaning ‘be strong’. Drawing on the high energy of Afrobeat and Highlife nights, the musical influences of Jazz, Funk and many other genre's, the band’s own written music is shaped by the sounds of their home city, London.

SAUDIQ KHAN

SA

Saudiq Khan fell in love with the passionate sounds of the Flamenco guitar in his teens. At 15, Khan went to work in the printing industry to help his family financially. He also developed a skill for fixing cars, and approached a local Flamenco guitarist, bartering mechanical repairs for lessons. In 1989, Khan had the opportunity to travel to Lisbon to help run a print shop. On weekends he took the train to Seville, then considered to be the hub of the Flamenco World, to study under various Flamenco maestros. Today, Khan is one of the few Flamenco guitarists who concentrates on solo performances. 

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