ARTISTS 2017 (PG3)
(First Artists Announced) (Second Artists Announced)
First Artists Announced
ANDRA DAY (USA)
In 2015, Andra Day debuted her album for Warner Bros, Cheers to the Fall, containing the song Rise Up. Since then, the singer has performed at the White House for Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign, featured in an Apple TV spot with Stevie Wonder, and seen the song become one of the anthems for both the Black Lives Matter campaign and Mothers of the Movement (the coalition of those who have lost sons to police or gun violence).
Day has also been nominated for a Grammy and performed again at the White House for a Smithsonian tribute. Cassandra Monique “Andra” Batie was born in Washington State and moved to the gang-riven east side of San Diego when she was three. She attended an arts-focused primary school and sang in her church gospel choir, also studying dance and musical theatre along the way. When she found the music of jazz singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in her teens, she wanted to bring that vibe and skill to her music too, but she never wanted to sing purely mainstream jazz. She honed her unique combination of original ideas and musical influences via videos filmed in her sister’s bedroom and posted on YouTube. When it first appeared, not every critic was won over by the eclecticism of Cheers To the Fall, but the UK Guardian’s Ben Beaumont-Thomas observed: “Day has found a vocal style of her own. In firing clean, piercing notes through the torrid waltz of City Burns, she perfectly evokes a tale of urban self-definition.” And then Rise Up was released. ( )
It wasn’t something Day expected: “I wanted it to be something that was uplifting,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times. “My hope was that [the song] would encourage people… There’s a lot going on culturally and socially right now that I think needs to be talked about, and as an artist I’d be remiss not to bring up what’s going on in our society socially and politically… I just had no idea the bigger meaning the song would take on. But I’m grateful. I think it’s grown me as a person spiritually and emotionally, and continues to remind me that what you do in music can change people’s lives and affect them in a real way.” (https://www.andraday.com/ )
BUDDY WELLS SEXTET (SA)
Saxophonist, composer and arranger Buddy Wells was born into memories of South African urban jazz, from his father, musician and activist Trevor – which perhaps explains his popularity as sideman of choice throughout the history of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Royal College of Music graduate, Wells has won many personal awards including 1994 Adcock Ingram Competition for Best Jazz Instrumentalist, and the 1996 SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition and has made regular appearances at other prestigious festivals in South Africa, Asia and Europe, with musicians as diverse as Feya Faku, Marcus Wyatt, Manu Dibangu, the late Miriam Makeba and Abdullah Ibrahim, inclduing recordings too numerous to list, most recently Andreas Loven’s project District Six. Jazz writer Gwen Ansell in Business Day called Wells “too self-effacing for his own good. He plays superbly in diverse and sometimes surprising contexts, and has won his share of awards, but has no album out as leader and rarely stars in interviews or media features… [But] his quietness may in fact be a key strength. The unpretentious openness he brings to projects allows him to contribute on whatever wavelength is required – yet his work is always inventive and intelligent, and always adds insight.” When 702’s Afrika Melane interviewed him in Grahamstown and dubbed him a “jazz master”, his typically self-effacing response was: “You can never master jazz, hey.”
This time, though, Wells will lead his own band. Club audiences who have encountered him in sensitive yet blistering sets in Cape Town ( ) and Johannesburg know he’s one artist that’s not to be missed. ( )
CAMILLO LOMBARD presents A CAPE TOWN SHOW CASE (SA)
Pianist, composer, arranger, producer and recording artist, Camillo Lombard was born into a musical family. He is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who started playing piano at the age of four and professionally at nineteen. He received his Performance Diploma from the London College of Music in 2011, Jazz Piano Teachers Diploma in 2014 and Fellowship Degree in 2015. In 2005, Camillo established the Cape Town Showcase, to pay homage to great South African artists and composers. This year Camillo Lombard’s Cape Town Showcase will profile consummate Cape Town legends that have made their mark in the music industry over the past four decades. The line-up will include the internationally acclaimed cabaret artist and entertainer Sophia Foster, whose unique voice is as well-known as her sophistication and glamorous gowns; the inimitable female impersonator and entertainer, Terry Fortune (real name Tyrone Robertson); jazz singer, actor, community champion and UCLA graduate, Sylvia Mdunyelwa; legendary bass guitarist Sammy Webber who has been performing for the past 40 years and whose lack of sight, has not kept him from thrilling audiences across the country; and the magical voice of songstress Vicky Sampson, whose song ‘Afrikan Dream’ continues to be a favourite.
The Cape Town Showcase also boasts a stellar 14-piece band that comprises of a six-piece rhythm section, five horns and three backing vocals.
CHRIS HANI HIGH SCHOOL (SA)
Designated by the Western Cape Education Department in 2006 as an ‘Arts and Culture Focus’ school, this secondary school located in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, goes from strength to strength. The band performing at the 18th Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) will play a selection of jazz and African numbers performed by current and past pupils of 17 – 20 years of age. They will be joined by students participating in the CTIJF Music & Career workshop, an annual charitable programme allied to the festival that helps selected high school learners in the Western Cape, polish their music talent as well as highlighting the many different career prospects within the entertainment industry.
DIGABLE PLANETS (USA)
“Boogie had to change/Who freaks the clips with mad amount percussion/ Where kinky hair goes to unthought-of dimensions/Why's it so fly cause hip hop kept some drama/When Butterfly rocked his light blue-suede Pumas.” Digable Planets are an alternative hip hop trio first formed in the 1990s (when hip hop and jazz were in energetic dialogue) by Brooklyn-based rappers Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Mary-Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira, and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving (a.k.a Cee Knowledge). Their aim, says pitchfork.com’s Mark Richardson, was “expanding rap’s reach and deepening its connection to music history.” In 1993, their debut, Reachin’ A New Refutation of Space and Time, included the lead single Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat): a massive crossover hit that scored a Grammy. Two years later, after a second album, Blowout Comb, the outfit had split – the start of a 23-year history of musical evolution, individual projects (including Butler’s Shabazz Palaces), on-off reunions and breakups. Digable Planets came together again in early 2016 for a successful reunion tour. “There's an opportunity to go back, but also think of something new that would be totally different," Butler told Reed Jackson of Willamette Week. The project seems to be working: their 2016 gig with a live band in Seattle was described as “the night people had been holding out for – and it exceeded every expectation.”
Dance/electronic music producer Jameszoo, aka Mitchel van Dinther, may label his music “naïve”, but he’s using the word in its visual art sense; talking about the open, genre rule innocent approach he takes to collaging and weaving together a range of music that all relate in some way to contemporary jazz on his highly-acclaimed debut album, Fool, which dropped in May 2016 on Brainfeeder. Van Dinther was born in Den Bosch in the southern Netherlands. He began as a DJ working with an eclectic selection of avant-garde jazz, prog and kraut rock, electronic experiments, and beat oddities and gravitated towards the greater creative possibilities of production. Van Dinther’s main inspirations were ‘70s albums from Steve Kuhn, Arthur Verocai and Robert Wyatt (the 1974 Rock Bottom which featured South African trumpeter Mongezi Feza). Fool moves away from pure collage, featuring live performances not only from Kuhn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7cREtQQ1wE ) and Verocai but also Brazilian singer Carlos Dafe, Thundercat and many more. At pitchfork.com, Benjamin Scheim described the album as “at its best, recalling the free spirit of late ‘90s electronic music…strongest when he tones down the overt jazz and instead parses the genre for specific sounds and ideas to embellish his electronic experimentations.” Jameszoo himself says: “I tried to create something that is both tradition and me fooling around. There is something to be said for both sides of the spectrum. If we always remain in tradition there will be no evolution.” (https://www.facebook.com/Jameszoomitchel/ )
Jokko is a supergroup of African instrumentalists that brings together five top-ranking players of traditional instruments who are all also fluent in the modern languages of pop, dance and jazz. Renowned balafon (wooden xylophone) player Aly Keita (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoZkNoblOsw ) comes from a distinguished lineage of traditional bards (griots), but has also worked with Joe Zawinul, Trilok Gurtu, Rokia Traore and more. His 2008 album Akwaba Inisene soared in the European World Music charts. Keita was born in Cote D’Ivoire, but his father took him back to the family village birthplace in Mali to induct him into traditional ways of playing. Back in Abidjan, he encountered a jazz pianist “who introduced me to the piano and I immediately saw several similarities.” Stringed instrument (guembri and ghayta) player Mehdi Nassouli (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqnUiCDFOns ) spent years studying the Moroccan Gnawa tradition under several masters, but has also played with international stars ranging from Fatoumata Diawara of Mali to English bluesman Justin Adams. Agadir-born Foulane Bouhssine has been hailed as “the Mozart of the ribab” (Berber lute: a single-string bowed instrument that sounds similar to a violin, and, says Bouhssine, “the spinal chord of Berber music”). One of his other projects is the Ribab Fusion movement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a18NyA0U5as ) that has drawn new, young and international audiences to this ancient instrument. He cites influences ranging from deep tradition to Jimi Hendrix. Mozambican bassist Childo Thomas also plays mbira (thumb piano) and has been a regular touring companion of Cuban pianist Omar Sosa for 15 years (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUTyds0nCZ8). Finally, Senegalese drummer Sega Seck (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnGex0tVUqnl35WmJXVFuTkEe0I5F4f3I ) is in demand internationally, and has worked in the vibrant, dance-oriented ensemble of Toure Kunda. Each of these players is a star in his own right; the combination is pure magic.
KAMASI WASHINGTON (USA)
Saxophonist, composer and producer Kamasi Washington and his release, the 3-CD The Epic, shook up the jazz critics’ pick lists in 2015. It was rated by the UK Guardian, Pitchfork, Allaboutjazz, Rough Trade, the Rolling Stone Top 50 list and many more, and hit the Top 3 in the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. It also won the 2016 American Music Prize. As if that wasn’t enough attention for a player always highly-respected by music insiders, but without any previous glitzy profile, Washington was also attracting fans from new parts of the music world for his work with Kendrick Lamar on the Grammy-winning To Pimp a Butterfly. LA-born Washington’s father was also a saxophonist, and in his early teens a curious Kamasi picked up the instrument – untaught – and began to play. He studied at the Hamilton High School Music Academy and then ethnomusicology at UCLA. While still a student, he toured in the Snoop Dogg band, as well as with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra and the touring ensemble of R&B legend Raphael Saadiq. Genre boundaries and barriers have never constrained him. Since then, Washington has worked with the proverbial “who’s who” – but not only of jazz, because his work has taken in greats such as McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard and more, but also the likes of Mos Def, Chaka Khan and Flying Lotus and Thundercat. The Guardian’s Lanre Bakare hailed The Epic as a work that “looked beyond genre limits and tried to push things further”. But for Washington, that’s nothing new. He told Rolling Stone: “I think that it's a relationship that people talk about being new. But it's something that's always been there. You know, if you listen to so many of the great hip-hop records from the past, there are always jazz samples in there. So someone in there has awareness and an understanding of jazz…. The whole repurposing of music: the way hip-hop uses samples to create new songs, and in jazz, how we take show tunes and turn them into standards. [J]azz in the bebop era …was our way of expressing our intellect and expressing who we were. The thing about hip-hop is, like, that the instruments were taken out of schools [so] we'll take the records and sing over them! Hip-hop and jazz have always been intertwined.” ( http://www.kamasiwashington.com )
MANGO GROOVE (SA)
Multiple award-winning and Platinum-selling group Mango Groove, formed by bassist John Leyden, cut its teeth on the mid-80’s SA alternative music scene and exploded on to national consciousness with the release of its self-titled debut album in 1989. Presenting a unique combination of Claire Johnston’s soaring vocals and the classic African jazz pennywhistle and horn sounds of the late Mickey Vilakazi (who composed their hit Hellfire, but passed away in 1988) and other African jazzmen, the band had appeal across all South African communities. Since then the group, with its uniquely eclectic, big band ‘’Marabi-Pop’’ sound has continued to capture hearts. The group has released six studio albums, nine compilations and two dozen videos and singles, and demonstrated sold-out appeal at venues from the Sun City Superbowl to the Standard Bank Arena. NBC used their music in the broadcast of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, and the group was subsequently a headliner at the inauguration concert. Internationally, they’ve also made a big impact, performing at the Hong Kong handover concert, the Paris SOS Racisme concert and the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Apollo in London. They continue to entrance younger audiences at SA festivals including Splashy Fen, Oppikoppi and Rockin’ the Daisies. IOL declared, “30 years on, the group still has juice.” Johnston agrees: “Now we’re the elders in the South African music industry and at a different phase in our career. So it would appear that we still have our fan base. It’s sort of young and old. It’s so thrilling that at OppiKoppi, people go nuts when we walk on stage and that’s the power of music. It never really goes away.” (http://www.mangogroove.co.za)
NOMFUNDO XALUVA (SA)
Vocalist, pianist, composer and music educator, and two-time Metro Music Award-winner Nomfundo Xaluva, began her musical life very young. Port Elizabeth born, she started playing piano and singing in her school choir at Victoria Girls Primary Boarding School with never any doubt in her mind that this was what she wanted to do with her life. She holds a Masters in Jazz Studies for a dissertation on Miriam Makeba, whom she considers “a musician’s musician.” Xaluva has shared stages with Sibongile Khumalo and Dianne Reeves, among many others. Her first Metro Award was for her 2013 recorded debut on Universal, Kusile ( ). At IOL, critic Munya Vomo praised the outing for its richness and lyricism, and the flexibility of moods it was able to reflect. Now Xaluva has returned with the 2016 From Now On – which also won a Metro – and which pays very contemporary tribute to the styles and genres of classic south vocal jazz as originated by The Skylarks, Victor Ndlazilwane and Busi Mhlongo. ( ) She told Afripop magazine: “My music stems from identity. As an African-American art form you can lose your sense of identity in jazz. My music comes from my pride in being black, Xhosa, female, in having something to say – and feeling like that is enough.”