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North Sea Jazz Festival — Cape Town

Jeni Fletcher: Thompson n Team (TNT)

5 Stages and 40 Acts — What are you waiting for?

The stages are set for all that Jazz Ö South Africans, Cape Townians, jazz-fundi’s, take note: Time is running out for purchasing tickets to this grand African Jazz spectacular.

What to expect: two of the most exciting and important days on the South African Jazz calendar!

It’s the fifth anniversary staging of the annual North Sea Jazz Festival — Cape Town 2004 and this year the Festival takes place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town. Tickets sales have been faster than in previous years as music fans look forward to the new, expanded venue which now has five stages instead of four as at previous festivals at the Good Hope Centre.

Four of the stages at the CTICC are still, traditionally, named in honour of four of South Africa’s Town’s most adored Jazz Clubs of years gone by. They are ‘Kippies’, ‘Manenberg’, ‘Rosies’, and ‘Bassline’. The official name of the new fifth stage has not yet been announced, and is still the subject of much speculation.

There will again be a series of music workshops run in conjunction with the Festival, and there will again be the Free Jazz Concert ‘North Sea Heats the Cape — Community Concert’ at Greenmarket Square on Thursday, April 8. This is traditionally laid on by the festival organisers, esp-Afrika and Mojo Concerts, as a special warm-up treat for all the city’s music fans and visitors just prior to the start of the main festival.

But it is the two glittering nights of jazz stars and music that is the big attraction and the 2004 Festival now features 40 International and African acts, spread over five stages. Truly a music lover’s dream weekend. So let’s take a look at who is appearing, on which stages, and on which night. This is how it will all unfold  ...


‘Kippes’ is the largest venue of the five in the CTICC, with seating for 1,000 and standing room for a further 7,500. This is where you will see all the festival headliners on the big, main stage. In past years, Kippies has hosted names like Erykah Badu, Deodato, India.Arie, Joe Zawinul, Youssou N’Dour, George Duke, Sibongile Khumalo, Herbie Hancock, Miriam Makeba, Marcus Miller, Hugh Masekela, and Randy Crawford.

This year the North Sea Jazz Festival — Cape Town 2004 coincides with the launch of South Africa’s “Ten Years of Freedom” anniversary celebrations. So the opening act on the ‘Kippies’ stage is definitely going to be an emotional one.

The honour of opening the festival on the ‘Kippies’ stage falls to the legendary South African group, Sakhile, who will be reuniting specially for this performance. Since emerging from the group Spirits Rejoice, Sakhile struggled through the apartheid years and their music, although popular among black fans, was prevented from reaching a crossover audience and eventually the band split. In the late-‘80’s the group re-formed to help spread the anti-apartheid message around Europe and Russia, under the music direction of exiled composer Caiphus Semenya. The group appeared at the massive Nelson Mandela tribute concert at London's Wembley Stadium before splitting up in the early-‘90’s. But fans still love the group’s music which melded traditional SA sounds with their jazz fusion influences. So it is going to be a special moment for founder members, Sipho Gumede, Mabi Thabejane, Menyatso Mathole and Khaya Mahlangu, and the festival audience, when Sakhile open the festival on the ‘Kippies’ stage.

Then it’s time for Stanley Clarke, who has forged an incredible reputation over the past 30 years, not just as one of the greatest bass players in jazz history, but also as a composer, conductor, orchestrator, arranger, songwriter, record producer, and recording artist. Since 1971 Clarke has worked with names like Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Saunders, Stan Getz, and Gil Evans. He and Chick Corea formed the seminal electric jazz/fusion band, Return to Forever, and recorded eight albums, notching up gold albums and Grammy awards along the way. Clarke released his debut solo album in 1974, followed by the famous ‘School Days’ album in 1976, featuring his percussive slap funk technique. In 1981 he teamed up with George Duke to form the Clarke/Duke Project. Since then Clarke has worked and toured with a long list of artists, won many major awards, topped reader’s polls, and has also become a highly rated film music composer. But Stanley Clarke’s major passion is still playing his bass for his legions of devotees wordwide and his presence and highly anticipated performance at the 2004 festival is sure to please his many SA fans

Angie Stone, next up on the ‘Kippies’ stage, is the US Soul star who burst on to the international scene in 1999 with her critically acclaimed and platinum-selling debut album, ‘Black Diamond’, with its big pop and R&B hit, ‘No More Rain (In This Cloud)’. The multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician and producer followed the success of that album with the equally successful, ‘Mahogany Soul’. Stone, who names her influences as R&B legends like Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and Donny Hathaway, has worked with names like Musiq Soulchild, Mary J. Blige, Solo, and Malik Pendleton, and was a key musical collaborator on D’Angelo’s platinum-plus 1995 debut album, ‘Brown Sugar’. Both of Angie Stone’s albums have sold well in South Africa, gaining her many SA fans who can’t wait to seeing this passionate, honest and remarkable artist performing at the Festival..

The final act on the ‘Kippies’ stage on Saturday night is one of South Africa’s favourite jazz sons, Jonathan Butler. The Cape Town-born vocalist and guitarist built a successful career over the past 25 years since first appearing as a seven-year-old child prodigy in the townships. Butler was soon supporting his large family and went on to perform both across South Africa and then overseas with great success. Butler works and records equally comfortably in pop, R&B, and smooth jazz as well as venturing into areas of World, African and gospel music. Jonathan Butler will be bringing his popular “Soul-Jazz” sounds to the Festival, and will also be performing with his daughter, Randy Butler.

Sunday night’s line-up on the ‘Kippies’ stage again begins with an emotional reunion for another cult South African group, Ray Phiri with Stimela. The group, whose name means “Steam Train”, formed in 1982 with a line-up of Ray Phiri, Nana Coyote, Isaac Mtshali, Lloyd Lelosa, Jabu Sibumbe, and Charles Ndlovu. A string of emotional and controversial albums like ‘Whisper In The Deep’, ‘The Unfinished Story’, ‘Trouble In The Land Of Plenty’, and ‘Out Of The Ashes’, followed, many of them achieving Gold or Platinum status. Stimela then battled their way through the dark days to take their rightful places in the forefront of the SA music invasion. In 1985, Paul Simon took Stimela to the US to work on the ‘Graceland’ album. Ray Phiri later left the band, but will be fronting Stimela when they reunite to perform at the festival.o Pop/Jazz.

Then it is time for the debut Festival appearance by the sensational jazz vocalist, Cassandra Wilson, who began her musical career performing in and around her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. . Wilson is currently regarded as one of the finest of the new generation of jazz singers and her distinctive style has resulted in many chart-topping albums, and a Grammy award. Her 13 albums to date include her Miles Davis tribute, ‘Traveling Miles’, ‘Blue Light Till Dawn’, and ‘New Moon Daughter’. With a large back catalogue to dip into, Cassandra Wilson will be performing her trademark mixture of first-rate originals and adventurous covers of other songwriters' works at the festival.

Third on the ‘Kippies’ Sunday night bill will be one of the world’s most highly-rated jazz guitarists, Al Di Meola. The US-born Al Di Meola’s career began with early solo albums like ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’, and ‘Elegant Gypsy’. Then followed the famous ‘Guitar Trio’ collaboration with John McLaughlin and Paco De Lucia and the landmark album, ‘A Night In San Fransisco’. In 1996, he formed a new trio with Jean Luc Ponty and Stanley Clarke called The Rite of Strings, and has worked with a long list of major artists through the years. Al Di Meola has recorded over 21 albums, and is still recording and performing around the world. His more recent albums and projects include ‘Winter Nights’, ‘Flesh on Flesh’, and ‘Al Di Meola World Sinfonia 2000’, which featured musicians from Argentina, Cuba and Israel. Al Di Meola’s guitar virtuosity is sure to be a first night highlight.

Expect an energetic musical extravaganza when Femi Kuti & his 17 piece band Positive Force close off Sunday evening’s entertainment on the ‘Kippies’ stage. Femi Kuti is the eldest son of Nigerian music legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and was born in London and educated in Lagos before being influenced by both his father’s politicised sounds as well as the contemporary sounds of the US. Through the release of his four international albums, this 39-year-old Yoruba Gemini has built an international reputation and following, specially after the release of the ‘Shoki Shoki’ album and its subsequent world hit, ‘Beng Beng Beng’. Femi Kuti’s music is vibrant and powerful and a tribute to his father’s music and vision. Don’t miss this one ...!


At the Festival’s previous home at the Good Hope Centre, ‘Rosies’ was the smaller venue that attracted the serious jazz fans, and the most grumbles. This was due to the crowds that occasionally interfered with the audience’s appreciation of top jazz artists like Yusef Lateef, Toots Thielmans, Archie Shepp Quartet, Roy Hargrove Quintet, Bheki Mseleku, Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi, Dewey Redman, the late Mal Waldron, Paul Hanmer, Robbie Jansen, Piet Noordijk, and Sathima Bea Benjamin.

The good news is that the new ‘Rosies’ venue at the CTICC is a 1,500 all-seater auditorium, so there is plenty of room for all those who want to soak up these fine jazz sounds. They’d better be seated on time though, as it will be Miriam Makeba & Trio who will be the opening act on the ‘Rosies’ stage on Saturday night. “Mama Afrika”, as South Africa’s most adored female vocalist is affectionately known, will be reuniting with Trio, a group comprising Tony Cedras on piano and accordion, Leopoldo Fleming-Congos, and William Salter. While in early exile from South Africa, Miriam Makeba performed with Trio at Berns Salonger, Stockholm, Sweden, in 1966, and a rare recording of that historic concert has just been released on CD and DVD almost 30 years later. Miriam Makeba and Trio’s performance at the Festival will feature songs off that album like ‘Mbube’, the struggle anthem ‘Mayibuye’, ‘ Kilimanjaro’, ‘Amampondo’ and ‘Oxgam’.

Next up on ‘Rosies’ is Harold Jefta & Trio who will be making an emotional return to this Cape Town stage. The Cape Town-born Harold Jefta began playing the clarinet aged 14 with the Mother City's famous Senators of Swing. He then moved on to the tenor saxophone and then the alto saxophone, influenced by Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Harold, with brother Kenny on guitar, soon became the hottest item on the Cape Town jazz scene. After Sharpeville, Jefta toured Europe and settled down in Sweden. In February 1997 he returned to Cape Town to work alongside German flugelhorn player and jazz producer, Klaus Werner Pusch, to produce an album called ‘Charlie Parker Meets Cape Town’. This featured his quintet - drummer Maurice Gawronsky, SA bassist Basil Moses, and pianist Nhlanhla Magagula - playing complex Bird pieces like ‘Marmaduke’, ‘My Old Flame’, ‘Confirmation’, and ‘My Little Suede Shoes’. ‘Rosies’ audiences are in for a special treat!

In the mid-1950s, before he became so well-known, Abdullah Ibrahim played in one of Harold Jefta’s Cape Town groups. So it is a nice touch that South Africa’s most famous pianist will follow Harold Jefta on to the ‘Rosies’ stage with his trio. Dollar Brand, as he was originally known, began playing in a big swing band, before performing with the seminal SA jazz sextet called the Jazz Epistles. In the early ‘60’s, the political situation in South Africa led to the break-up of the group, and he moved to Switzerland, playing in a trio and accompanying the singer Sathima Bea Benjamin, whom he later married. Duke Ellington was the catalyst that brought Abdullah Ibrahim to the United States, where he appeared at the Newport festival. His piano playing reflects techniques from all areas of piano history, from the boogie woogie that first inspired him to play jazz, to the more modern sounds of his mentor Ellington, and the inspirational Thelonious Monk. Abdullah Ibrahim has released a string of successful albums through the years, including ‘Manenberg’, his most famous musical piece. His appearance at the festival will be memorable for Cape Town and international jazz fans.

The final act on the first night at ‘Rosies’ is the Lou Donaldson Quartet featuring organist Dr. Lonnie Smith. Lou Donaldson is an alto saxophonist who scored two hit singles and received frequent airplay on R&B radio stations with his funky album, ‘Alligator Boogaloo’. In the ‘80’s he returned to the sounds of hardbop, and still plays in that style, but still makes the occasional excursion into “Soul Jazz” with organist Dr Lonnie Smith. Known as “the magician of the Hammond B3 organ”, Dr Lonnie Smith is so nicknamed due his ability to “always come up with a remedy to cure musical maladies”. He first gained attention for his talents in 1969 and worked alongside guitarist George Benson, but has also recorded 30 albums under his own name. This classic jazz act will definitely be a ‘Rosies’ highlight.

On Sunday night it falls to one of South Africa‘s finest saxophonists to open the show at ‘Rosies’. McCoy Mrubata has been carving himself a sterling reputation on the SA jazz scene over the past 10 years as a musician who is equally proficient on the tenor, soprano and alto saxophones as well as the flute. Mrubata has released very popular albums like ‘Tears Of Joy’, ‘Hoelykit’, ‘Face The Music’, and a ‘Best Of The Early Years’ compilation that includes his best-known tracks like ‘The Groove’, ‘Firebird’, and ‘Tears Of Joy’. Mrubata has also gained recognition internationally and was invited by the The Nordic Black Theatre in Oslo to perform in musicals based on the life of Bob Marley, and then John Coltrane, in which McCoy played the role of the sax legend. A SAMA winner, McCoy heads his own band, McCoy Mrubata.

Then it’s the turn of the Joe Lovano Trio to take to the ‘Rosies’ stage. Joe Lovano has been playing his alto sax since he was child in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was schooled by his father and influenced by the jazz musicians of the day like Sonny Stitt, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and later Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Jimmy Giuffr. Lovano’s 22nd album, ‘On This Day . . . At the Vanguard’, reflects his close affinity for New York’s Greenwich Village Vanguard club. It was in this famous club, which currently serves as his musical home base, that he grew up hearing all those classic live recordings by the Sonny Rollins trio, the Coltrane groups, Bill Evans, and Dexter Gordon. His show at the festival will reflect all those influences.

Third on the ‘Rosies’ Sunday night bill is SA Trumpeter Feya Faku & Friends. Feya Faku was born in the New Brighton Township in Port Elizabeth, which is locally known as “South Africa’s university of jazz”, due to the fact that it has uncovered some of South Africa’s finest jazz musicians. Faku, who is equally adept on trumpet and flugelhorn, began playing with no formal training and received theory and practical lessons from various artists around Port Elizabeth before finishing a Performer’s Diploma in Jazz Studies at the University of Natal. Since then Feya has worked with some of South Africa's top jazz musicians including Barney Rachabane, Thandie Klaasen, and the late Duke Makasi. Feya was also the youngest member of the Winston ''Mankunku'' Ngozi Quintet. Feya’s “Friends” for this festival show are Lulu Gontsane on drums, and Mncendi Kupa on piano

Closing the ‘Rosies’ line-up is the Sax African Summit featuring Jackie McLean and Rene McLean with special guests James Moody & Gary Bartz and also featuring: Hotep Idris Galeta, Nat Reeves, Ronnie Burrage, and Okeyrema Asnate. Jackie McLean is a native New Yorker and was one of the few bop-oriented players of the early-'50`s who then explored free jazz in the 1960`s. Rene McLean played baritone and later alto with Tito Puente for three years in the early '70`s and also worked with Sam Rivers, Lionel Hampton, and with his father in the Cosmic Brotherhood. He started touring with Hugh Masekela in 1978,before settling in South Africa in 1985. Gary Bartz is a Grammy Award-winning jazz saxophonist who first came to New York in 1958 to attend the Julliard Conservatory of Music. Saxophonist James Moody has been serenading lovers with his signature song, ‘Moody's Mood for Love’ for the past four decades. A cool and “saxy” way to end the evening.


As at the Good Hope Centre, the ‘Manenberg’ stage will be the Festival’s outside stage with standing room for over 5,000 fans. Here is where the large crowd has previously enjoyed the fresh air, occasional windy Cape weather, and plenty of exuberant music from names like Vusi Mahlasela, Sipho Gumede, Loading Zone, Bugge Wesseltoft, John Scofield, Allou April, Pieces of a Dream, Andreas Vollenweider, Pops Mohamed, Busi Mhlongo, Zuco 103, Don Laka, Sylvia Mdunyelwa, and Bill Bruford’s Earthworks

The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band (SBNYJB) is a product of the South African National Youth Jazz Festival, which takes place at the Grahamstown Festival each year, and is sponsored by Standard Bank. It is the most significant youth development initiative in jazz in South Africa, but also attracts the very best young players in the country. And it is this band that has the privilege of opening the Manenberg stage on Saturday night.

The members and the conductor of the band are selected annually, and this year the SBNYJB is under the leadership of Darius Brubeck, a pianist of international repute and Head of Jazz in the Music Department at the University of Natal. The band members are selected during a competitive audition which usually involves more than 250 enthusiastic participants. The ages of the members range between 18 and 26.

The SBNYJB performs around South Africa at the country’s major festivals, and the 2003 SBNYJB will also be performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Den Hague in July 2004.

The band this year plays the music of Darius Brubeck, as well as South African standards. The band line up for 2004 is: Darius Brubeck (conductor, composer, arranger); Tumelo Moloi (vocals); Dan Shout (alto/soprano sax); Neil Engel (trumpet); Simon Bates (tenor sax); Ross McDonald (trombone); Shaun Steeneveld (tuba); Roland Moses (piano); Donne Dowlman (bass) and Andre Swartz (drums). Jazz lovers would do well to take note - these young men and women are the future of South African jazz!

The crowd on the first night of the festival is in for a wonderful surprise when the Ngcukana Brothers (all of them) take to the ‘Manenberg’ stage. The Ngcukana Brothers are the five sons of jazz legend, Christopher Columbus Ngcukana, and are: Ezra Ngcukana (Tenor Sax), who has played with Abdullah Ibrahim’s big band, Louis Moholo’s “Spirits Rejoice”, “Mankunku” Ngozi, and Dudu Pukwana; Duke Ngcukana (Trumpet), who is the oldest brother, started a music school MAPP, and is presently leading Chorimba, an innovative jazz and choral music ensemble; Fitzroy Ngcukana (Vocals), who formed the Afro-Fusion group Night Cruiser in the late `80’s and is currently a restaurant owner who still performs with his band and his brothers; Cyril Ngcukana (Guitar), who has performed with Brenda Fassie, toured with the African Follies around Namibia in 1980, and is a prolific composer of African pop songs, which he performs with his band, Tandanani; Claude Ngcukana (Piano), who has performed with bands like “Artists in Rhythm” led by Tete Mbambisa, the late Dick Khoza’s band Vuka. and is now based in Johannesburg. The Ngcukana Brothers’ traditional performance pays tribute to SA legends like Kippie, McGregor, Feza, Davashe, Ndlazilwana, Mgibe and others.

Next on the ‘Manenberg’ stage is Dondo, whose name means “Talking Drum”, featuring Vusi Khumalo, one of SA’s top drummers, and Lawrence Matshiza on guitar. The two met in the ‘80’s when Vusi drummed on Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland' album. Vusi Khumalo and bass guitarist Fana Zulu were the original members of Dondo, a group which has helped launch the careers of artists like the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa. Lawrence Matshiza later joined Vusi in Dondo, and together they have they worked on different projects with Bob Baldwin, Marion Meadows, Karl Anderson, Donald Harrison, Regina Carter, Peabo Bryson, Simply Red, Chucho Valdez and Ernest Ranglin.

Then it is the turn of the world-famous Japanese alto saxophonist, Sadao Watanabe, who studied at the Berklee College of Music in the US and performed with big acts such as Chico Hamilton and Gary McFarland. Sadao later returned to Japan and formed his own band which played a major role in creating the big “Bossa Nova” boom in Japan in the '60`s. His appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1968 marked the beginning of his international career and in the ‘70’s his collaboration with arranger Dave Grusin produced the hits ‘My Dear Life’, ‘California Shower’, and ‘Morning Island’, and attracted a wide range of music fans. He received the “City of Los Angeles Citizenship Citation” in 1988 for his contributions in promoting friendship through music between Japan and the United States. Watanabe moved to Verve Records in 1997 and a year later kicked off his first European tour in 10 years, performing at the Montreaux Jazz Festival and several other events. For the past 50 years Sadao Watanabe has been touring and gaining new fans all over the world and his appearance at the Festival will definitely add many more to that list.

Closing off the first night’s bill on the ‘Manenberg’ stage is Basilio Marquez y Eclipse, Basilio Marquez is Cuba's leading jazz trumpeter, and fans can expect big things from him and his dynamic group, as the recent Eclipse tour to the US in 2003 was an extraordinary success. Basilio Marquez, who was the lead trumpeter with the famed Cuban ensemble, Irakere, from 1996, formed Eclipse, his own septet, in 1995. Marquez is renowned for melding Latin jazz with the Eclipse catalogue of complex arrangements of jazz standards, and has introduced original jazz treatments of Cuban classics from the early 20th century. The group’s full line-up is Basilio Marquez on trumpet and flugelhorn; Moises Marquez on saxophone and flute; Alexander M. Ochoa on piano; Cristino Marquez on bass (acoustic and electric); Rafael Gavilan on trumpet and timbales; Eduardo Ramirez on drums; Gaspar Sanchez on congas; and Rafael Tarin on percussion and sound.

First up on Sunday night on the ‘Manenberg’ stage is the Jonny Cooper Big Band with vocalist Donald Tshomela. The Jonny Cooper 19-piece Big Band has become a huge success in South Africa by re-creating the sounds of the Swing era of the 1940’s. Internationally, The Jonny Cooper Orchestra is recognised as one of the finest copyists of the Glenn Miller Sound and has been referred to recently in the International Big Band Magazine, Big Band Buddies, as “one of the best Big Bands in the world”. With its four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, and a rhythm section, replicating the Glenn Miller’s 1938 civilian orchestra. Donald Tshomela has fronted many well-known SA groups including Victor Ntoni’s Big Band, the African Jazz Pioneers, and Nico Carstens’ ‘Boereqanga’. Donald Tshomela provides vocal tributes to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, singing in the classic style of the big band singers of the 1940’s.

Then it’s the turn of the influential Brazilian group, Azymuth, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2004. Azymuth is a trio consisting of Jose Roberto Bertrami, Ivan Conti and Alex Malheiros, who have released over 20 albums. The group began in the 1960’s and recorded a song called ‘Azimuth’ which was later adapted as their name. Their debut album featured songs like ‘Manh’ (a classic on the London club scene) and ‘Faca De Conta’, which saw the birth of the unique Azymuth sound. Their first release on the Milestone label was a best-seller and featured the world-wide disco/fusion hit, ‘Jazz Carnival’. Since 1996 the Azymuth sound has gone from strength to strength and has gained many new younger fans across Europe. Through their energetic shows and especially through remixes by some of the most important producers around (Mark Pritchard, Roni Size, 4 Hero, Takemura and Global Communications) they have become an important force once again on the underground jazz scene. Expect to hear their famous “Sambo Doido” (crazy samba).

The highly-rated SA jazz vocalist, Gloria Bosman, is next on stage. Gloria has performed live at numerous clubs and festivals throughout the country and has released some beautiful albums including her debut album, ‘Tranquillity’, which was produced and arranged by pianist Paul Hanmer, and which won her the SAMA for ‘Best Newcomer’. She has also added her wonderful jazz vocals to her other albums including ‘The Many Faces of Gloria Bosman’, ‘Stop and Think’ in 2002, and her latest offering, ‘Nature Dances’.

Last up on the ‘Maneneberg’ stage is Hiroshima, the L.A.-based quartet of Dan Kuramoto (keyboards/woodwinds/composer/producer), June Okida Kuramoto (koto), Johnny Mori (taiko drum) and Danny Yamamoto (drums/percussion). The group mixes jazz, pop, and rock with traditional Japanese folk music and instruments. Dan and June formed Hiroshima in 1974 and their self-titled debut on Arista in 1979 spawned the hit single, ‘Roomful of Mirrors’, and the intense showstopper, ‘Da Da’. To date Hiroshima have sold more than three million albums, and have also introduced a wide variety of traditional Asian instruments to a global audience, integrating them seamlessly into a new music and art form. Hiroshima's current line-up includes the Kuramotos, the brilliant Hawaiian keyboardist Kimo Cornwell, drummer Danny Yamamoto, bassist Dean Cortez, vocalist Terry Steele and guitarist Fred Schreuders.


The ‘Bassline’ stage was also known as the “Basement” stage at previous Festivals due to the underground atmosphere and smokey vibe that added to the sounds of exciting new acts with innovative jazz sounds like Herbert, Relax, Zuco 103, Moodphase 5ive, Orishas, Golliwog, Da Lata, Madame Freak, Lebo Mathosa, Tananas, Benguela, Bugge Wesseltoft, and Neo Muyanga. At the 2004 festival, the new ‘Bassline’ venue will have room for 2,500 fans, both standing and seated, as well as a chill lounge!

It is also traditional for a hot, new SA band to open proceedings on the first night on the ‘Bassline’ stage and this year the honour falls to the very popular Cape Town group, Freshlyground, a seven-piece ensemble with diverse cultural and musical backgrounds. The group’s music, as reflected on their big-selling debut album, ‘Jika Jika’, is original and energetic with a fresh mix of musical styles and influences from indigenous African folk music and jazz, to contemporary urban styles such as reggae and dance music. Freshlyground’s songs are in both English and Xhosa, and reflect the rich, complex and ever-changing social, political and economic environment of South Africa today. Fronted by their talented vocalist, Zolani Mahola, the group, consisting of Kyla-Rose Smith (violin), Aron Turest-Swartz (keyboards), Josh Hawks (bass), Simon Attwell (flute), and Peter Cohen (drums), has quickly emerged as one of South Africa’s brightest hopes, and their appearance at the festival is well-justified and should prove to be a Festival highlight.

Up next is Tasha’s World, which features the Rotterdam-born singer, Natascha Slagtand, whose vocal talents have been favourably compared to vocalists like Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. This is due to her rootsy 'neo-soul' and organic sounds, complemented by sparse but tough hip hop beats. The group has appeared on many of Holland’s top television shows and on MTV Europe. Tasha’s World’s live line-up features between seven and ten musicians. The full band consists of a three-man horn section, drummer, bass, percussion, lead guitar, two backing vocalists, keyboard player, and of course, Natascha on lead vocals. Last year the critically acclaimed ‘Tasha’s World’ album was released in Europe as well as in Holland where the Dutch music bible magazine The Oor called it “one of the best albums to come out of Holland ever!” Expect something very special from this group at the Festival.

Then it’s the opportunity for the new SA group, Tumi & The Volume, to showcase their new-school hip hop, beat poetry and funked-up jazz. This group is currently building a large following in South Africa with their live shows, and ‘Live At The Bassline’ album. Tumi Molekane is a 23-year old speaker of fancy, the vanguard clairvoyant, and one of the brightest up-and-coming wordsmiths on the Johannesburg hip hop scene. Tumi has appeared alongside many of South Africa’s main talents including Blk Sonshine, Bra Willie Kgositsile, Max Normal, and Lesego Rampolokeng. The concept band, Volume, is a creative joint venture formed in 2002 between Tumi, Tiago (guitar), Paulo (percussion), Dave (bass), and Kyla (violin). The perfect group for the ‘Bassline’ stage!

Then it’s up to UK artist TY to keep the hip hop mood cooking on the ‘Bassline’ stage. TY’s debut album, ‘Awkward’, was released to critical acclaim and saw the artist move from an underground MC to an artist who is quickly gaining an international reputation. For his second album, ‘Upward’, TY collaborated with a variety of musicians, including Fela Kuti's drummer Tony Allen, and Blur’s Damon Albarn, and the result is an album that is a winning mix of soul and hip hop. TY has also been touring Scandinavia with Norwegian band Mojo & He Man, and is involved in the spoken word/poetry scene, as well as running workshops in schools and beyond since his pivotal involvement in the mid-‘90s Ghetto Grammar organisation.

On Sunday night the ‘Bassline’ bill begins with vocalist Kabelo, aka Bouga Luv, who was originally a member of the massive SA kwaito group, TKZee, before leaving to pursue his solo career. 'Pantsula For Life', the first single off his debut solo album, ‘Everybody Watching’, was a huge SA hit and the debut album sold well based on its combination of kwaito, hip hop, jazz and other SA sounds. Kabelo followed that with another hit album called ‘Rebel With A Cause’ and will certainly bring a strong SA urban groove to the ‘Bassline’ stage.

Then the ‘Bassline’ stage warmly welcomes Soweto Kinch featuring Abram Wilson. The England-born Soweto Kinch is regarded as one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians to hit the British jazz scene in recent years. An early meeting with Wynton Marsalis confirmed his passion for jazz and he learnt piano before focusing on the alto saxophone. Soweto's music is firmly rooted in jazz - drawing equally from swing-era, be-bop and post-bop schools. He also raps and is adept on the soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, and piano. Through his work with Jazz Jamaica, he has nurtured a respect and affection for reggae and Jamaican folk music - which can be heard both in his jazz work and his hip hop productions. Soweto Kinch’s debut solo album, ‘Conversations With The Unseen’, was released in 2003 and combined straight-ahead jazz with funky hip-hop and rap vocals. The album won a Mercury Music Prize for Album Of The Year in 2003, and also earned him the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act 2003.

Third up on the ‘Bassline’ stage is Ursula Rucker, the acclaimed US hip hop poetess who performed in South Africa in 2003. Ursula Rucker is currently regarded as one of the premiere spoken word recording artists in the music industry today, and has enchanted critics and fans across the globe with her diverse repertoire, captivating vocals, and accessible poetic verse. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Ursula is a graduate of Temple University’s journalism department. In 1994, Ursula stood up for the very first time and faced an audience with her stunningly genuine verse at Zanzibar Blue in Philadelphia. Ursula is attracted to diverse genres, with roots firmly grounded in hip hop but her later work illustrates her growth as an artist and her ability to transcend the bounds of poetry. She draws on influences from prestigious Black Arts Movement activist poet and icon Sonia Sanchez to Frida Kahlo, Zora Neale Hurston and even Prince. Ursula has transfixed audiences from Tokyo to Cape Town alongside the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, Mos Def, Macy Gray and even the late great Nina Simone. Bassline audiences are advised that when Ursula, although timid at first, grips the microphone tightly, all ears hone in. Don't bet on this veteran to ever sit down and be quiet. Her words are power.

Closing off an extremely strong second night bill on the ‘Bassline’ stage is the SA vocalist known simply as Loyiso. His music is a culmination of the many years he spent perfecting his singing skills, initially on his own and later with the Drakensberg Boys' Choir, with whom he sang from 1990 to 1995. During this time Loyiso toured around 17 overseas countries as head of the choir and received several awards. Loyiso (Bala) is a former member of the TKZee family, but is better known as a solo artist who has enjoyed mega hits with the songs ‘Musukhukala’, ‘Give Me The Night’ and ‘Cappaccino (Sweet Latte)’ off his three smash albums: the self-titled ‘Loyiso EP’, ‘Silky Soft Skin’, and ‘Wine Women and Song’. Loyiso’s dynamic urban soul-pop is the perfect way to bring the curtain down on the ‘Bassline’ stage.

New Stage

For the 2004 festival, the organisers decided to add an extra fifth stage in the new CTICC venue, so that they could invite more artists to the festival, and also give the festival fans a broader choice. This new, as-yet-unnamed auditorium is an all-seater with room for a 600-strong audience.

The honour of being the first act on the 5th stage falls to the Cape Town jazz group Breakfast Included. These four young musicians all have either UCT Bachelors or Masters degrees in Jazz and have already played over 500 live performances (and counting) since their debut at the 1999 UCT Jazz Festival. Breakfast Included are an exciting ensemble to watch, bucking the trend of the Jazz world with their energetic and inspiring live performances, and captivating a whole new audience of new, younger jazz listeners with their unique sound that mixes elements of African-jazz and funk. The group’s successful debut CD has been released throughout South Africa, UK, and Ireland, and their music was included on two international compilations by Passion Jazz and Universal, alongside artists such as George Benson and Dianna Kraal. The quartet has a huge repertoire ranging from all jazz favourites to Latin, African and more contemporary fare, and are sure to impress with their debut appearance at the festival.

The organisers were thrilled that Soweto Kinch agreed to play a set on both nights of the festival and the UK saxophonist will again perform on the New Stage on Sunday evening, again with New Orleans-born trumpeter Abram Wilson.

Then it is a debut Festival appearance on the 5th Stage for Mark Fransman’s Strait and Narro featuring Melanie Scholtz. This exciting new Cape Town jazz group boasts an impressive line-up of emerging SA jazz talent. There’s the group’s leader and composer, Mark Fransman, on keyboards and samples; with Buddy Wells (Tribe) on alto and tenor saxophones; Lee Thomson (Golliwog, Springbok Nude Girls) on trumpet; Sean Ou Tim (Max Normal) on drums and samples; Wesley Rusten (Gramadoelas) on bass; and Melanie Scholtz on vocals and poetry. Mark Fransman’s Strait and Narro fuses the harmonic and compositional elements of South African jazz and modern 'sextet' style jazz, with the rhythmic structures of modern dance music. The horn section makes for exciting arrangements to sing-able, danceable songs. Incorporating such rhythms as hip hop, drum and bass, jungle, funk and South African rhythms into compositions, makes their music accessible to jazz-heads and dance-heads.

Top of the Saturday night bill on the 5th Stage is Amanda Sedgwick and Gilbert Matthews featuring Phillip Harper. Saxophonist-composer, Amanda Sedgwick, is one of the younger generation of musicians who have established themselves on the Swedish jazz scene. Philip Harper has made over 50 recordings, both as leader (his solo albums 'Soulful Sin' and 'The Thirteenth Moon' are on Muse Records) and as a sideman, which has earned him number one position on numerous jazz play lists and critics polls. Gilbert Matthews was born in Cape Town, but was forced to flee to London in 1968 due to the political situation in South Africa. From there he continued to New York and Los Angeles, where he took lessons from, amongst others, Max Roach and Elvin Jones, before playing with artists like Ray Charles and Sarah Vaughn. The word is that this is one of the un-missable acts at the 2004 festival!

Opening the Sunday night bill on the 5th Stage is the Daryl Andrews Jazz Band, a 13-piece Latin-Jazz band featuring some of the finest jazz musicians in Cape Town. The band’s leader is Darryl Andrews, a senior lecturer in the Jazz Studies Program at the University of Cape Town, who composes most of the band’s original material as well as being the band’s arranger, guitarist, and musical director. The members of the band are all students or graduates of UCT, apart from Daniel Bloem (congas) who studied in Holland. The other members of the band are: Vaughn Fransch (first trumpet and flugelhorn) from Zimbabwe; Alex Gibbons (second trumpet and flugelhorn); Dan Shout (alto and soprano sax) from Namibia; Simon Bates (tenor sax); Kelly Bell (trombone); Miso Markovina (baritone sax, concert and alto flutes) from Croatia; Michael Horne (drums); Lindiwe Maxolo (vocals); and “TJ” Simon (timbales and vocals), who as his nickname indicates, comes from Gauteng.

The second act on the 5th Stage is Raga Afrika, which is not only the first ever collaboration between musicians from India and South Africa, but also the first time that musicians from India will be performing at the Festival. Raga Afrika fuses the Indian classical sounds of instruments like the sitar, tabla, violin, and dholak, with bass, guitar, drums, and African percussion in a unique way. Raga Afrika brings together 8 musicians each with their own unique style. Four of the band members are from India and four from South Africa. Festival fans will hear the interplay between sitar played by Calcutta-based Purbayan Chatterjee and a six-stringed jazz guitar played by Nigerian-born Kunle. The heavy bass of African percussion in the form of the two-piece congas played by John Hassan, crosses over to the high pitched sounds of the tabla of Ashis Paul to create harmony in motion. A notable first for the festival!

Next to take to the 5th Stage is the Alvin Dyers Quartet featuring Ray Blue. Guitarist Alvin Dyers was born in Cape Town to a very talented music family, he and his siblings were exposed to music from a very early age. Alvin Dyers has toured and gigged extensively and enjoyed enthusiastic reviews and a great following with the band Workforce. That group included the famous Cape Town musicians, Spencer Mbadu and Robbie Jansen, and has performed at several high profile events and festivals both locally and as far away as Melbourne, Australia. Dyers has also been hosting regular Jazz Jam sessions at various venues around Cape Town, which allow aspiring young musicians to interact with a host of seasoned visiting musicians from, amongst others, Germany, Sweden, the USA and the Netherlands. In 2000 Dyers released his popular debut album, ‘Wesley Street’, which displayed his unique guitar sound that blends elements of Latin, Cape Goema, African and Jazz into a personal signature style. A perfect Festival combination!

The final act on the 5th Stage on Sunday night is the Toon Roos Group, featuring the Dutch tenor/soprano saxophonist, composer and Bird Award winner, Toon Roos. Over the years Toon has performed and recorded as a band leader with the Toon Roos Quartet and the Toon Roos Group, and as a member or guest soloist with many Dutch groups, including the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra. Since 1984, when he started his international career with his performance at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, Toon has travelled and performed in clubs, theatres and at jazz festivals throughout the world, and has performed and/or recorded with many international celebrities such as Toots Thielemans, Kenny Werner, Vince Mendoza, John Clayton, Jack Macduff, and Art Blakey. In 2001 he won the prestigious Bird Award, an international jazz prize, presented annually during the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, and which has previously been awarded to artists such as Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Joe Zawinul and Pat Metheny. As illustrated on their fourth funky jazz album, ‘Free At Last’, the Toon Roos Group blend jazz, funk, rock, Latin, bossanova, African and other influences into their own distinctive sound. Since then the Toon Roos Group has performed for enthusiastic audiences at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague and the World Port Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, and this year will proudly close the fifth staging of the North Sea Jazz Festival — Cape Town 2004.

Now, do you really think you can afford to miss a Jazz Festival like that ?!?!

North Sea Jazz Festival — Cape Town 2004 hotline on +27 83-123-JAZZ (or 5299).
Line-up updates and other festival info can be found at www.nsjfcapetown.com

Tickets: R260 (single day) and R399 (weekend).
Tickets, which are selling very fast, are available at Computicket.

For more information contact Thompson n Team (TNT):
Tel: (021) 465-3314
Fax: (021) 461-3669, or
E-mail: thompsonnt@xsinet.co.za

LitNet: 24 March 2004

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