SA jazz artists celebrate 10 years of freedom in Holland
South African jazz legends Jonas Gwanga, Winston "Mankunku" Ngozi, Ladysmith Black Mambaso and Hugh Masekela, who'll be playing with the Jamaica All Stars, will be celebrating 10 years into democracy with thousands of music lovers from around the world when they perform on the South African stage of the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague this coming Sunday. The festival starts on Friday, July 9th and runs until Sunday, July 11th.
This is the sixth year running that espAfrika, owners of the North Sea Jazz Festival in Cape Town, together with their Dutch partners Mojo Concerts, who own the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland, will be proudly presenting some of South Africa's best-known and best-loved jazz artists to very appreciative audiences. Theo van der Hoek, Festival Director of North Sea in Holland, says that it has become customary to feature SA jazz groups. "This year we have dedicated one stage, the Dakterras (Roof Terrace) to SA artists as the country is celebrating their 10 years since their democratic elections in 1994. The last time we did that was when we launched the South African edition of North Sea in 1999 - and the festival-goers loved it!"
Artists who have performed at North Sea in Holland over the past six years include Sylvia Mdunyelwa, the late Moses Molelekwa, Judith Sephuma, Jimmy Dludlu, the Sheer All Stars, Paul Hanmer, Ringo Madlingozi, Jabu Khanyile, Miriam Makeba, Zim Ngqwana, Tribe, Selaelo Selota, Winston Mankunka and Robbie Jansen.
2004 is the first year that South Africa will also be sending a youth group, The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band, to take part in the NSJF Student Programme, a successful annual collaboration between NSJF and the IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education). This group of talented young musicians has played to great acclaim at the North Sea Cape Town for the past two years. They, and another 13 outstanding school groups, will perform on the IAJE Students Stage, the Spiegel Tent Stage. They will also be attending a number of workshops, clinics and jam sessions.
The driving force behind the National Youth band is director Alan Webster of the Stirling High School in East London. The musical director for 2004 - this position changes annually - is the very respected Professor Darius Brubeck of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Rashid Lombard, director of espAfrika and festival director of the North Sea Jazz Festival in Cape Town, says that taking artists to perform in Holland is just the tip of the iceberg. "Since 1999 we have toured groups to jazz festivals in Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and France. And this year Winston Mankunku has been invited to perform at the Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival in Rome before he even gets to the North Sea. This invitation was arranged by SA's ambassador to Rome, Lenin Shoppe."
Every year whilst in Europe Rashid spends time promoting both South African music festivals and South African musicians to a variety of people and countries. And this is year is no different. espAfrika starts this process by extensively promoting the North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town at the "sister" festival in Holland. Once the Dutch festival is over Rashid flies to Berlin to meet with ITB, the organisers of the International Tourism Exchange 2005, which is the largest tourism exhibition in Europe. Rashid will be discussing the possibility of a SA Cultural Pavilion where espAfrika will market not only the North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town, but also other festivals such as Macufe in Bloemfontein, the KKNK in Oudtshoorn, Awesome Africa in Durban, the Jo'burg International Joy of Jazz, and Oppikoppi in Pretoria.
"Our aim is to promote major festivals as a point of entry for international tourists. We have done the same thing very successfully on the domestic market by promoting the North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town at the annual travel Indaba in Durban."
Then Lombard is off to Sweden at the invitation of the Swedish Jazz Foundation to attend the Stockholm International Jazz Festival and discuss the exchange of jazz education and jazz performers.
Says Lombard: "Once again we have the opportunity to visit festivals in Europe with the intention of promoting South African artists for their future programming. There is always interest in SA musicians but the problem we face as promoters is that the costs of flights and land travel are not paid for by festivals unless you have a name like Miriam Makeba or Abdullah Ibrahim! However, for the past five or six years we have managed to raise the funding here but this will soon not be possible. We need to address the issue of a Cultural Export Council with the DTI and work together to implement this assistance. Right now, by playing artists internationally, we bring back foreign currency that contributes to the GDP of the country. Imagine what we could achieve for our country, our economy and our music industry with a little more assistance!"
The complete line-up, which includes names like Carlos Santana and Alicia Keys, can be seen on www.northseajazz.nl.
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