All set for winter jazz festival

The three-day fete is slated for June 30 until July 2 at Jazz 105, Harare’s upmarket jazz joint right in the city centre.

This year’s debutantes include the inimitable guitarist Steve “Dhongi” Makoni and Mawungira Enharira but it is the globe trotters and internationally acclaimed group ‘ the Cool Crooners that is expected to lead a pack of performers who include Mbare Trio, Jazz Invitation, Victor Kunonga, Cannibals and Jabavu Drive.

The popular Kwekwe-based artiste Bob Nyabinde who is known in some quarters as the “Headmaster” returns with his third album which will be out on or before the jazz festival.

But the Headmaster is the man to watch out for as he stole the show during last year’s festival and fans should expect a repeat of that show.

After he belted songs from his two chart topping albums Pane Nyaya and Ndiratidze Mumwechete, Nyabinde literally blew off the roof and sent everyone on the dance floor.

Many would remember the Headmaster injecting frenzy into the crowd cracking jokes and virtually relieving the masters of ceremonies of his duty. His classic hit Chabuda Hapana and Pane Nyaya carried the day.

In fact, he became the entertainer, the MC as well as the host.<BR>
Another artiste who promises to be a thriller at this year’s fete is Makoni, fondly called Dhongi by his fans.

Dhongi is set to reclaim his position as one of the talented guitarists, songwriters and performers in the genre.

Dhongi, who was named after his song of the same name, knows his music and every song is a fountain of wisdom as well as encouragement. Songs that quickly come to mind include the classics include Handiende and Zvachonyana.

His music often touches on the troubled dynamics shaping the socio-political landscape of his native country and the surrounding region, and addresses the most universal aspects of the human condition.

Mbare Trio a group of the old musicians often referred to as the “old madhalas” features great talents of seasoned vocalist Friday Mbirimi and his young brother Clancy.

Despite having been in music for more than a decade, it was only last year that the group found a breakthrough and released its debut album titled Uru Rufaro distributed by Kingstones Entertainment.

The group has been a major attraction at the Winter Jazz Festival and its number one fan is Oliver Mtukudzi, who not only founded the group but was also once a member.

Kunonga is billed to perform on the first day of the festival. He defines his music as percussive jazz as it has a distinctive drum style. Last year he was one of the major attractions as he was riding on a crest of success with his first album titled Such Is Life ‘ Ndakanyengetedzwa.

The single Mayidarirei against child abuse is a poetic piece that castigates fathers from sexually abusing their children. Loaded with rich rhythms and engaging harmonies, Such IS Life is a gem to listen to. Word doing rounds in Harare is that he is expected to unleash his second album before the end of the year. Another regular performer is Dumi Ngulube with his outfit Amagents. Certainly, the group has been through it all and their presence at the show will help spice up the line up.

Youthful outfit Afrika Revenge, Churchill Boys High Band, Prince Edward School Jazz Band and Patience Musa and her backing group The Other Four are some of the groups taking part.

Afrika Revenge rose to prominence with their first hit album and is working on its second album although they featured on Tanyaradzwa motion picture soundtrack.

Jabavu Drive, fronted by gynaecologist Rodger Hukuimwe, would feature after an eventful three-month tour of Namibia.

Other perennial performers include The Cannibals, Jazz Invitation and Too Open.

To many Afro classical and contemporary jazz fans in Zimbabwe, the festival has become a social event for people where they can share ideas and find ways to develop jazz music in the country.

Josh Hozheri, the organiser of the event said the three-day jazz feast would feature on the menu renowned and upcoming artistes.

“We are showcasing our Zimbabwean artistes as you know this is an event that gives them the platform that recognises their unique creativity. Besides this, every artiste gets the spotlight as they perform on the main stage.

“The event has also encouraged jazz artistes to work as professionals through exchanging notes such that they can fit anywhere in the world,” Hozheri said.

He said they will also support charity through the “Donate a blanket and warm somebody this winter” campaign where performing artistes would lead in donations.

“Every year we donate goods to charity after the festival and this year we hope to give blankets to St Giles School for the handicapped and Mashambanzou Home, a home for people living with HIV and Aids,” he said.

Billed as the prestigious jazz event on the calendar, this year theme is “Proudly Zimbabwean, Proudly Ours” and it places emphasis on the local artistes.

June 2006
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