Usually we enjoy giving you a round-up of who to look out for at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, but since jazz lovers usually know exactly who they’d like to see, we focused instead on a couple of artists who piqued our interest.
Given that jazz can be an isolating genre with connoisseurs safe-guarding it from lawless innovation, new artists who fuse the essence of jazz with something like hip-hop tend to intrigue me. Locally I would suggest you look out for punk rockers BCUC, the Grammy award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir and legends Steve Kekana and Don Laka. And let’s not forget #Trending’s favourite, Shekinah. But here are some visitors who you should pay a visit to at the festival.
ALFA MIST (UK)
March 30, 9pm
Stage: Moses Molelekwa
I feel acts like Alfa Mist offer the youthful jazz enthusiast an easier way into the genre than some of the more avant-garde artists. This record plays out like an intricate jam that makes for easy listening. The melodies make sense and are rhythmical enough to keep the most untrained jazz listener engaged. I find that any good jazz has this cinematic feel to it, almost as if you could envision a stirring scene as the song plays.
What I enjoy most is how Mist can pull in other flavours. On Potential, the second song off his album Antiphon, the arrangement is like a rock song, complete with a menacing guitar solo – but a jazzy undertone remains throughout.
NUBYA GARCIA (UK)
March 29, 10.15pm
Stage: Moses Molelekwa
Another act from the UK, Nubya brings the same youthful understanding of audible rhythms to her sound. By this I mean that a jazz lover in search of complex shapes and far-out improvisation can find as much appreciation in her music as someone who needs a bit of a consistent loop and structure.
This saxophonist’s EP, When We Are, came out last year and consists of only four tracks, but all of them make for easy and fun listening. Something about the clean sound of the piano keys evokes a sense of celebration on the title song. Her album, Nubya’s 5ive (2017), is almost as short as the EP, but her songs are lengthy movements in which she attempts more crossover jazz with strong hints of a soul influence. This is aptly demonstrated with her opening song, Lost Kingdoms. Nubya’s sound has a sensuality that I find intoxicating, making it hard not to feel entranced by her work.
March 30, 9.45pm
Stage: Basil Maneberg Coetzee
Things get trippy when it comes to this man’s sound.
I refer you to the 2017 release of the full length offering, French Kiwi Juice. FKJ’s music is well crafted and has this sound-shifting ability: A track starts off like a break beat and veers off to a beachy-sounding tune with breathy vocals.
This guy got it. He has a layered approach to jazz but an understanding of the groove.
He makes you want to whip out that classic two-step.
Locally I would say Thandi Ntuli’s The Rebirth of Cool could easily be grouped alongside these acts for pushing jazz towards vibey pastures while adhering to the all-too-important fundamentals.
French Kiwi Juice’s We Ain’t Feeling Time Off is such a sweet-sounding song and the man shows off his grasp of mixing in the way that each track falls perfectly into the next one, almost like he played the whole record at once. Dope tape.