Posts Tagged ‘siya makuzeni’

Lionel Loueke performs in the DSG Hall in Grahamstown on 3 July 2015 at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Loueke is originally from Benin in West Africa but is currently living in New York. (Photo: CUEPIX/Kate Janse van Rensburg)

As I look back on this year’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival, I realise how much music I missed. But I had some great highs: Lionel Loueke’s exciting collaboration with four SA artists, whom he praised effusively on stage, was the stand-out gig for me. Vocalist Siya Makuzeni, flugelhorn/trumpet player Marcus Wyatt, bassist Shane Cooper, and drummer Ayande Sikade clearly loved working with this magical Benin-born guitarist.

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Lulama Gawulana performs with South African Jazz Classics at the Standard bank jazz café venue in Grahamstown on 9 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Gawulana was joined on stage by Sakhile Simani on trumpet and Donné Dowlman on bass guitar. (Photo: CUEPIX/Niamh Walsh-Vorster)

I was highly critical last year of the Standard Bank Jazz and Blues Café venue. It was an acoustic disaster, and had zero atmosphere. Reassured that this year’s venue (Saints Bistro in High St) was a very different story, I ventured forth on Thursday night to hear a quartet of Eastern Cape musicians pay tribute to our South African jazz heritage. I was, I must confess, familiar with only one of the musicians: trumpeter/ flugelhorn player, Sikhele Simani, and that only recently, when he impressed with his beautiful sound and good taste in Siya Makuzeni’s band at DSG Hall. (Drummer Lloyd Martin was not originally billed in the NAF printed programme).

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Siya Makuzeni performs at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, 05 July 2015. Makuzeni is known for her experimental approach and has performed in some of the biggest jazz events around the world. (Photo: CuePix/Tamani Chithambo)

She opens with a complex solo she describes as an ode, and ends with Johnny Dyani’s ode to the Kalahari. She is Siya Makuzeni, who sang her heart out the previous evening with Lionel Loueke. Now she takes centre stage and carpes the diem.

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Before the Cape Town International Jazz Festival there was the North Sea Jazz Festival – Cape Town (don’t ask!). There I attended many of the workshops organised by the late Hotep Idris Galeta. The extraordinary contribution from a little-known Benin guitarist at one of these gatherings made us all sit up, and get up!

Since then Lionel (pronounced Leeon- ell) Loueke has made a considerable impact on the US jazz scene, being mentored by veteran jazz masters Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, who recognised both his talent and his uniqueness.

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If you ask who is one of the kookiest musicians that South Africa has to offer, Carlo Mombelli springs to mind. But, apparently, he is only mildly kooky compared to the French musicians with whom he is performing at the Paris-Joburg gig tonight, which isdefinitely one of the highlights at this year’s Jazz Festival programme.

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