8 must-see acts at the Cape Town Jazz fest

2017-02-05 06:01

Cape Town - We asked jazz fundi Gwen Ansell who to look out for at the Cape Town Jazz Festival this year. Then we added a few of our own picks for the less purist jazz fans out there...

1) Rudresh Mahanthappa (US)

A saxophonist who sis Gwen describes as a “player who never does the obvious and is deeply rooted in the tradition but never imprisoned by it”. According to her, Bird Calls was the jazz album of 2015.

Performance: Saturday, 1 April

2) Kamasi Washington (US)

A visionary reedman who was involved in arranging on Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 sophomore album, To Pimp a Butterfly. Sis Gwen described his three-hour-long album as being an epic consisting of, “rich and full ideas from everywhere including a generous admixture of groove alongside soaring abstract impro”.

Performance: Friday, 31 March

3) Escalandrum (Argentina)

This band is led by the grandson of Astor Piazzolla, who sis Gwen describes as the man who “brought tango into the 20th century”. They approach music with a sense of exploration, resulting in a sound that keeps the audience guessing.

Performance: Saturday, 1 April

4) Laura Mvula (UK)

A two-time Mercury Prize nominee and two-time Music of Black Origin award winner, this vocal sensation from Birmingham may not be a conventional jazz artist, but her sound is one that should be experienced at least once. Singing has been a part of her life since she was a kid and the skill in her delivery is evidence of that.

Performance: Saturday, 1 April

5) Mandla Mlangeni’s TRC (SA)

To real jazzheads, this man and his Tune and Recreation Committee being on this list is no surprise. An “interesting and thought-provoking performer”, he uses his music to provide commentary on where people and society are at.

Performance: Saturday, 1 April

6) Darren English (SA)

Sis Gwen had nothing but praises for this vibrant artist: “I heard this trumpeter in CT when he was much younger and he was very impressive: nice sound; packed with ideas.” It is always good to take in some local flavour at the fest and this brother cooks it up real good.

Performance: Saturday, 1 April

7) Buddy Wells Sextet (SA)

If you’ve been to the festival, you’ll be familiar with Wells who, according to our jazz expert, has been at every festival. This time will be different, however, as it will be his first time leading an ensemble. “A technically superb, warm and empathetic player.” What more could you ask for?

Performance: Friday, 31 March

8) Thandiswa Mazwai (SA)

Bongo Maffin’s high priestess has been a part of the local soundscape for two decades. She is not purely a jazz singer and easily incorporates neo/soul and more traditional African sounds into her infectious melodies.

Performance: Saturday, 1 April

*For the full line-up, visit capetownjazzfest.com.

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