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First Artists Announced


New Orleans-born trumpeter, keyboardist, singer and composer Nicholas Payton, is a dynamic performer, steeped in acoustic jazz and post-bop, whose music often finds him exploring genres beyond the confines of the jazz tradition.


Payton burst onto the New Orleans jazz scene a quarter of a century ago, whilst still a teenager. He started studying at the University of New Orleans with pianist Ellis Marsalis but left to take up a travelling gig with drummer Elvin Jones. He began his solo recording career with Verve Records, who released From This Moment in 1994 and Gumbou Nouveau the next year. A year later, he appeared alongside his jazz contemporaries in director Robert Altman’s film Kansas City.


Over the years, Payton has delved into straight-ahead jazz, post-bop, funk and R&B-influenced sounds and on his 2011 album, Bitches, he not only composed and arranged the entire work, but played every instrument and provided all vocals.


Most recently in 2016, Payton returned to a full band-oriented approach with the hip-hop and spoken word-inflected The Egyptian Second Line. And this year he delivered another highly inventive hip-hop and world music-influenced production, Afro-Caribbean Mixtape.

NICKY SCHRIRE (South Africa)

Nicky Schrire completed her undergraduate studies at UCT’s College of Music before moving on to a Masters degree from New York’s Manhattan School of Music.

She has performed in New York, Los Angeles, Dublin and across South Africa with musicians ranging from Arno Carstens to Sibongile Khumalo, Card on Spokes to Grammy nominated pianists Gerald Clayton and Gil Goldstein.

Schrire released albums Freedom Flight (2012), Space and Time (2013) and EP To The Spring (2014) in quick succession, receiving glowing reviews.

Comparisons of these three works to the stylings of Joni Mitchell, Becca Stevens and Tori Amos encouraged Schrire to delve more into the folk genre and she recorded the five song EP An Education, in 2015, with long-time collaborator and friend, cellist Ariella Caira.

Schrire is based in Cape Town where she composes in multiple genres and performs regularly.

R&R=NOW: Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Christian Scott, Derrick Hodge, Taylor McFerrin,
Justin Tyson (United States of America)

Robert Glasper is a multi-award winning (three Grammys and currently nominated for an Emmy), hip-hop inspired pianist and record producer from Texas with a knack for mellow yet harmonically complex compositions. Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, actor and record producer, Terrace Martin’s sounds encompass funk and jazz to classical and soul via hip hop and a dash of pop for good measure who is as adept at rapping as he is playing the saxophone.  Christian Scott is a Grammy Award nominated trumpeter, composer and producer from New Orleans. He has been planning the recent release of The Centennial Trilogy to mark the 100-year anniversary of the first jazz recording since he was a child. Derrick Hodge is a celebrated composer and bassist equally adept on upright and electric instruments. Though best known as a member of the Robert Glasper Experiment, Hodge is an accomplished session musician who works extensively in R&B and jazz. A talented drummer currently residing in New York, Justin Tyson is a Berklee College alumni who has played for Jesse J and Mos Def and works as permanent drummer for both Esperanza Spalding and Now vs Now. Also New York based, Taylor McFerrin is a multi-instrumentalist, keyboardist and beatboxer who usually tours as a one man show, relying on sampling and chopping up his live takes.


Over the past 18-years, The Sekunjalo Development Foundation has hosted the annual Sekunjalo Edujazz Concert for young music students to share a stage with established jazz artists from Cape Town. Programme founder Donovan Witten, initially shared his vision with Dr Iqbal Survé and together they established the Sekunjalo Edujazz Project to promote development of jazz music in schools on the Cape Flats. Past alumni include the likes of Kyle Shepherd, Darren English, Claude Cozens, Don Vino Prins and Lana Crowster.  Mentors who have conducted workshops include; Alvyn Dyers, Camillo Lombard, Amanda Tiffin, Sammy Weber and Shannon Mowday while music educators including Frank Paco and Andrew Ford.


This year the Edujazz Big Band will be directed by Kelly Bell – the first female to lead the band. Bell is a Cape Town-based performing artist who regularly tours with artists including Israel, New Breed, Sibongile Khumalo and Danish bassist Ida Gormsen.


The Settlers High School boasts three jazz bands that have over the years, produced some of South Africa’s finest jazz and pop genre talents. The Dynamix Jazz Band started afresh in 2017 with a completely new line-up of first-time players with ‘Jazz on the Lawn 2017,’ their debut performance.


The band is under the direction of music educator and musician, Tracey Johannes, herself a past pupil of The Settlers High School and a University of Cape Town graduate.


Some of the previous band members were selected for the All-Star Band who performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival’s free concert on Green Market Square in 2015 and 2017.


Their repertoire ranges from well-known jazz standards and African music, to local and international jazz, Latin and pop covers. They participate in espAfrika’s Youth Training and Development Programme as part of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and as a result of their commitment to the programme and outstanding development, they have been afforded an opportunity to play on the main stage at this year’s CTIJF. 


Previous senior band members of The Dynamix Jazz Band have gone on to further their studies in music at UCT’s prestigious South African College of Music and the acclaimed Music Conservatory at the University of Stellenbosch.


A Brazilian singer/songwriter/actor born Jorge Mario da Silva in 1970, Seu Jorge was raised in the city of Belford Roxo near Rio de Janeiro. He cites samba schools and Stevie Wonder as major musical influences and is credited by many, as a ‘renewer’ of Brazilian pop samba.


Jorge learned to act at Rio’s state university theatre company and saved up to buy his first acoustic guitar in the early 90s. Subsequently, he became a well-known personality on the Brazilian music scene - as the front man of the group Farofa Carioca and eventually released a solo debut, Samba Esporto Fino, in 2001, which was renamed Carolina in the United States.  This album found Jorge creating a distinct musical blend by marrying Brazilian samba to other genres.


Jorge gained exposure through his work as an actor, appearing in City of God (2002) and in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisso (2004), in which he played a deckhand who played guitar and sang. He provided much of the film’s soundtrack in the form of Portuguese language cover versions of David Bowie classics. A 2005 recording The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions featured stripped down versions of many of Bowie’s older works.

SISONKE XONTI (South Africa)

Sisonke Xonti fell in love with the saxophone at the age of 13. He was introduced to jazz three years later when he joined Cape Town based, The Little Giants, led by George Werner and the late Ezra Ngcukana, in 2004.


That same year, he was selected to be a part of the Schools Big Band at the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival in Grahamstown. Three years on he was chosen for the National Youth Band, for the first time under the leadership of Dr Andrew Lilley. He has since played and collaborated with an array of musicians including Jimmy Dludlu, Victor Ntoni, Lira, Neo Muyanga, Bheki Khoza, Abdullah Ibrahim and The Cape Town Jazz Orchestra, Kyle Shepherd, Bokani Dyer, Marcus Wyatt and Simphiwe Dana.

A band leader in his own right, Xonti recently released his debut album, Iyonde and is planning a SADEC tour.


Fezile (Feya) Faku was born in 1962 in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth. He started playing the trumpet with no formal training and picked up theory and practical lesson from various artists around his home stomping ground.


In 1992, he completed a Performer’s Diploma in Jazz Studies at the then University of Natal, under Darius Brubeck and his career started taking off. Over the years, Faku - an accomplished composer, trumpeter and flugelhorn player - has released several solo albums and collaborated with a multitude of local and international artists. He has worked with SA legends such as Thandie Claasen, Basil Coetzee, Bheki Mseleku and Abdullah Ibrahim.


Based in SA Faku regularly travels overseas and has toured the US extensively with SA group Uhadi and with Kesivan Naidoo & the lights. Since 1994, Faku has maintained a relationship with the Dutch Paul van Kemenade Quintet and participated in a number of teaching and fellowship programmes on ensemble work and the trumpet.


In 2015, he launched Feya Faku + Spirit Jazz Orchestra, which was recorded live at the SABC2 M2 Studio, and released as a DVD and documentary of his musical journey. In 2016, he released le Ngoma, recorded in Switzerland with his Swiss quintet - the Feya Faku Quintet.


While he came from a musical family and studied piano at a college in Darjeeling Louiz Bank, really hit his stride when he discovered jazz in Calcutta in the late 1960s. There he started performing at the Hindustan Hotel, which led to an invite to play at the Blue Fox Restaurant, a popular nightclub famous for its patronage of Western Music. Here he began composing advertising jingles and stage musicals, something he continues to do to this day.


It is also where he met RD Burman, who invited him to join his troupe in Mumbai where he helped to popularise live jazz in nightclubs. In 1979, he formed the Indo-Jazz Ensemble with Goan saxoponist Braz Gonsalves, composing music on Indian classical scales and jazz rhythms and incorporating instruments such as the ghatam and thavil. In the 80s he was part of the jazz quartet in the orchestra. which performed with Ravi Shankar in his suite Jazzmine at the Jazz Yatra Festival.


Banks has scored several films and his 2008 collaboration as arranger/pianist on the Miles Davis tribute album Miles from India was nominated in the best contemporary jazz album category at the Grammy Awards in 2008.

THE SOIL(South Africa)

A capella 3-member group, The Soil, are Buhlebendalo Mda, Luphindo Ngxanga and Ntsika Fana Ngxanga. The group insists that a fourth member of their band exists in a spiritual form as ‘The Creator of all’.


Their music features a mix of jazz, hip hop, Afro-pop and Afro-soul. They tend to employ a rhythmic vocal bass line with constant beat boxing, while the remaining voices contribute a choral and polyphonic accompaniment and each one takes a turn in solo vocal performances.


The Soil released their self-titled debut album in 2012, followed by a deluxe edition the next year. In 2013 they released a live DVD/CD called, Reflections: Live in !Joburg and in 2014, they released their second album, Nostalgic Moments, which was nominated for Best R&B Soul Reggae Album at the South African Music Awards 2015. They also recorded a track (Hamba Uyosebenza) with Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 2014, which was nominated for Best Collaboration at SAMA 2015.


They released their third studio album, Echoes of Kofifi, in 2016. The Soil has played Womad Festival in Chile and The Sacred Festival in India in 2016 and toured Australia and New Zealand in 2017.

TROMBONE SHORTY (United States of America)

Born into a musical family steeped in jazz, Trombone Shorty, born Troy Andrews, was encouraged to pick up the trombone because there were already several trumpeters in the family. The multi-instrumentalist however, plays trombone and trumpet, as well as drums, organ and the tuba and has toured with his own band, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue since 2009.


The 31-year-old started participating in brass band parades as a child, played shows abroad with the Neville Brothers as a teenager, and fresh out of high school, joined Lenny Kravitz’s band. Three Trombone Shorty albums and many collaborations later, Andrews has nurtured a voracious appetite for all types of music - a phenomenon on display with Parking Lot Symphony, his first Blue Note Record released in 2017.


In the last four years, Andrews has backed Macklemore and Madonna at the Grammys; played on albums by She & Him and Mark Ronson; opened tours for Daryl Hall & John Oates and Red Hot Chili Peppers; appeared in Foo Fighters' Sonic Highways documentary series; voiced adult characters in The Peanuts Movie; and released Trombone Shorty, a children's book about his life that was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 2016.

VIJAY IYER SEXTET (United States of America)

Vijay Iyer is an American jazz pianist, composer, band leader, producer, electronic musician and writer based in New York. The son of Tamil immigrants to the US, the Grammy-nominated Iyer - Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University, and 2013 MacArthur "Genius" Fellow - composes and performs prolifically. Iyer has released 21 albums, working with his trio, with a string quartet, in a duo ensemble with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, and in numerous other configurations. He was named Downbeat Magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year for 2012, 2015, and 2016 and Pianist of the Year in 2014.


Iyer's latest record release Far From Over (ECM Records/2017) with the Vijay Iyer Sextet, has received critical raves from around the world. The only jazz album in Rolling Stone Magazine's "Best 50 Albums of the Year", Far From Over has been called "rambunctious, furiously funny" (L.A. Times);  "a five-star masterpiece" (Helsingen Sanomat); and "spine-tingling jazz for heart, head and feet" (The Guardian). The sextet, consisting of Iyer's long-time, powerful rhythm section of Stephan Crump (bass) and Marcus Gilmore (drums), fronted by three stellar horn players (Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman and Mark Shim) is "a dream team of cutting-edge improvisors" (Rolling Stone). This is the band that will be playing in Capetown. This is indeed "A band for the ages" (San Diego Union Tribune).

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