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Welcome to a Wordsmiths World,Where appellations is the mother city ‘sound is the town and the Republic is efficacy.

An Alive Jazz Delight

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The Kujenga Outfit

As a people, our inclined notion that mother nature is able to take care of herself is irrefutable. Throughout times, whether sunrise or sunset, without cessation, she evolves and re affirms herself as a persevering entity. Much like jazz, her modulation is gradual, and in the same length, definite.

Under the unpredictable gleam of today’s world, for a day under the Johannesburg sun, man and beast, enormous or tiny, in all shapes and sizes, age and ages, they share and breath the same light and air while their ears feast on great sound and music, suited for all ears, at the Johannesburg Zoo, .

Presented to us by the Johannesburg City Parks, Johannesburg Zoo, the Jo’burg City Theatre and their partnering stakeholder, Arts Alive Johannesburg, this year closed with, and exuded, memorable festivities during the season’s Passover interval.

Over the years a variety of excellent, subtle, emerging and notable musicians have graced the stage, and this instalment has been no exception. Kicking off, and setting up the ambience, were the young lions of the Isaac Morrison Music School, under the capable baton of Daliwonga Tshangela.

DT traversed and steered the impeccable learners through flavoured popular songs while soaring within the intrepid tonalities and structures of classical and chamber music, effortlessly. An effable platter of music, song, rhythm and dance simmered for the day.

Marcus Wyatt’s riffs and sublime grooves freely flowed and eased jazz fanatics that it will indeed be an exceptionally jazz fun-filled experience. Of late, what has been prevalent with Wyatt is that he has bodied full sounds, free of gaudy gimmicks, – presenting listeners with serious and compound, yet expressible compositions.

Then there was Badimo Jazz Band, a name apt for the personnel, their tenets of rigorous South African Jazz rhythm bowled the audience over. With a simplified approach towards the complexities of jazz, it is their depth and soulful interpretation of the African Jazz context that are copious. Their nuzzle leaves a lingering palette of yearning.

Mohamed Dawjee

As the day lit up, the audience continued to grow in healthy numbers. The par excellence of Yonela Mnana once again prevailed when taking the stage with his added voicing ensemble, SoulTee. Here one can hear Mnana’s gentle yet intense pedagogy. It is fair to deduce that his Debut album, uBaba, is an elaborate mine where the ills ,thrills and thunders of a nuclear family is a bottomless well, as he further extrapolates when in ferocity he imparts songs and renditions that cater even for novice and non jazz receptors.

Later Mnana joined the well-schooled conceptual chameleon Herbie Tsoaeli as a sideman, who never ceases to find a way into the crowd’s hearts, whether presenting new material or re introducing us to the many facets of the timeless concept and music of the institute of the Afrikan time.

Billy Monama continues to be an incinerating performer. He glistened the audience with emotions, reflection, jives and protests, and just when the audience heated up and reciprocated it was time for the next call up.

One obvious band that rumbled was the ‘got to be loveable’ Cape Town based Kujenga, a radical band that got the throng dancing. It is likely that after the performance many patrons lost their voices from singing and cheering them on. The band is a collective that speaks to the many issues that we broach, in soft and low voices. Their melodies, chops and licks, are proof that they are writing a chapter in South African music history.

Transcendental notes were not short as Abase Mkhathini, a multifaceted band led by Nduduzo Makhathini and Mbuso Khoza, ascended beyond expectations, whilst retaining the festival atmosphere.

Amidst the festivities, in walked the gentle giant, Andile Yenana, and we were not short-changed by the giant’s aura of an altruistic bug. Obviously, no performance is incomplete with the Tembisa, The People anthem. This time, complex time signatures waved and trickled through this rendition. As the swallows returned home, dusk was ushered in, and the well-received Simphiwe Dana with her transcending voice, lit the night, and verse for verse the crowd sang along.

As with all great times, they come to an end. Ami Faku closed curtains and bade farewell to the masses .

ArtsAlive Johannesburg is certainly one of the subtle festivals that not only grows in number attendance but also seeks and strives to quench the thirst of many fervent jazz fanatics. One key patency is the fact that the festival has outrightly capacitated its production with flawless musical faculties. The balance of straight-ahead jazz artists and Afro Jazz is weighed, unlike other jazz festivals, where popular music overbears the lineup.

It is a friendly and accommodating outing for the entire family. All types of jazz listeners are catered for. Above all the ambience and atmosphere is outstanding. In my sentiment, it is one festival that you should attend. I certainly look forward to the next one.

PS : No animals were harmed or left in distress during the festival. This is attested by the fact that all animals were visible in their habitats, and nocturnal activity was not interrupted. This barometer can be interpreted and concludes that the music exuded a mellifluous air.

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