Joy of Jazz Festival dawns on Jo’burg

The festival runs from August 24 to 26 and will see international jazz artists taking turns to grace the stage.

British pianist/vocalist Jamie Cullum, American saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and Grammy-award winning pianist Ramsey Lewis are some of the best performers coming to the festival.

South Africa’s Jonathan Butler, Israeli bass virtuoso Avishai Cohen, US-born singers Brenda Russell and Nnenna Freelon put flair to the attractive line-up.

Jazz lovers are indeed in for a treat from jazz gurus and their upcoming fellows.

Marsalis hails from musical aristocracy, being the eldest of four famous musician brothers.

He started out as a saxophonist in the ’80s, collaborating with, among others, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Sting. He is considered one of the most successful saxophonists in the industry.

Then there is Lewis, a top-of-the-shelve pianist whose music mixes jazz and pop genres and has earned him three Grammys, the last one being in 1973 for best R&B Instrumental Performance.

A sumptuous treat would have to be bassist Cohen, who seductively combines Middle Eastern and Israeli music to create his unique sound. Try not to miss this one.

However, the artist who is really expected to draw crowds is the fresh young talent, Cullum. He will open the festival with Butler.

Cullum is fast gaining international acclaim. His latest albums, Twentysomething and Catching Tales, which feature a fusion of pop, rock and jazz, are drawing a younger generation of jazz listeners, much like the sound of an artist like Norah Jones.

What makes this year’s festival particularly stunning is the fact that there is a little bit for everyone as it broadens beyond the jazz treat.

Other genres would also be represented.

Modeling Agency falls

Cape Town ‘ United Kingdom-based Storm Modeling Agency has closed down its Cape Town based subsidiary Storm South Africa in a move that has left dozens of models dumbfounded.

Storm SA had produced up to 600 models, photographers and performers around the country, including Christina Storm and Miss South Africa runner-up Tammy-Anne Fortuin.

Storm UK applied to have Storm SA liquidated in the Cape High Court in February, following a damning forensic investigation.

The report, by the KPMG Forensic Unit, alleged, among other things, that Storm SA owed R7-million to the taxman and had failed to produce financial statements for years.

The closure of such a big agency comes as a huige blow to the SA modelling industry as it played a very crucial role in nurturing and grooming models for mainstream pageants.

It also means loss of jobs to many and sadder still, it has emerged that the agency owed many models some money and it is not clear whether they would be able to get their dues.

Zimbabwe prepares for Umdala Wethu Gala

Harare ‘ Preparations for this year’s Umdala Wethu Gala that is slated for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Grounds early next month, have began.

The Ministry of Information and Publicity last week released the list of musicians who are expected to feature at the show.

The gala is held in commemoration of the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo and about 30 artists, including two foreign groups, will take to the stage.

However, this year’s list digs deeper into memory bag as a bigger part of performers is made up of musicians who had fallen from the limelight.

Those who have featured in galas before include Andy Brown, Allan Chimbetu, Mahendere Brothers, Bob Nyabinde, Cdes Max Mapfumo, Sister Yondo and Peter Majoni.

The Namibian Ndilimani Cultural Group that performed during the Independence Gala at the Harare International Conference Centre two months ago returns but this time the group has to contend with the Kwacha Dance Group from Malawi.

Elijah Madzikatire, Kenneth Chigodora and Franco Hodobo made a mark on the industry sometime ago but they are currently riding very low on the music industry hence the gala looks forward to revive their withering careers.

Another artist joins Vee

Gaborone ‘ Barely a month after severing ties with his long time producer to form his own recording company, Odirile ‘Vee’ Sento must be a happy man after fellow musician Olebile ‘Maxy’ Sedumedi recently joined his new company.

Maxy has followed Vee’s example of by pulling out of a deal she signed with CCP Records. The two Botswana musicians had signed the deals anticipating to make it on the South African market but the promises they had been given by their producer failed to materialise.

According to the Showbiz Magazine, Vee has announced that Maxy’s one-year deal with CCP has come to an end and that the Otse-born singer has now joined his newly established record label ‘ Black Money Makers Records.

Vee said Maxy’s forthcoming album, which will be the first with Money Makers has already been recorded.

He said the album could be released as soon as the finer details have been ironed out.

“The album is ready, but it is not yet time to talk about it now as we are still discussing other things. So we are unable to say when exactly Maxy’s Black Money Makers’ release will be available, but she has indeed signed with us,” Vee was quoted as saying.

Maxy’s dream of becoming the next Brenda Fassie came close to realisation when he signed with Sello Twala last year.

He is the producer acclaimed for making Brenda the super star that she was. However, it was a case of so near, yet so far, as Maxy failed to realise her dreams despite a rich album, Nare, she released with the popular producer. Maxy had hoped that the company would follow up the release of her album with some eye-catching marketing strategies such as video production for South African television stations.

But she has not even appeared on Sout h African radios since the album was released, nor has she had exposure through the magazines or news papers which would have helped create awareness of her Brenda status among South Africans.

Ever since Brenda’s death, Maxy changed her style of singing so that she sounds like the late diva. In some circles, she was hailed as the new Brenda, and the thought of capturing the lucrative South African market motivated her to hook up with the producer who made Brenda big in the music business.

But instead of penetrating the promised south African market, Maxy has found herself performing at sporadic shows in Botswana, where she was fast becoming respected for her traditional music style than for her vocal similarity with Brenda.

Finally she appears to have given up on trying to be the new Brenda. Instead, she will be reviving her status as a cultural music icon, by giving her followers those San music beats that made her everyone’s darling. Maxy was recently in Tokyo, Japan, with a group of cultural music performers to promote Botswana at an international tourism event.

But Kwasa Kwasa sensation, Vee, who last year signed up with another South African record company, Guffy Records, only to pull out of the deal this year, recently told revellers at his new album listening session in Phakalane that Maxy has also joined his record label, Black Money Makers.

Like Maxy, Vee signed with Guffy Records amidst wild excitement at the opportunity to penetrate the huge South African market. But he pulled out of the deal after claiming that the South African company failed to fulfil its promises of marketing his album in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, where Vee is well known. He claims that he never received royalties for Tja Mme, the album he released with the South African record company.

Angolan musician presents new album

Luanda ‘ The Angolan singer Mamukueno, pseudonym of Jos’ Matias, today presents his second album entitled “Eza Kungiambela” at the Angola National Radio (RNA) gate.

Made up of ten tracks in the Semba style, the work was produced at Jo’o Alexandre studio “T”, by the musician Quintino and arranged in Spain.

The disc has songs such as “Mangueira”, “Idimakaji”, “Jingela”, “Tuka Tuka”, “Belela”, “Rei do palhetinho”, “Bela Bela”, “Pexeira”, “Kalumba” and “Eza Kungiambela”.

According to the artist, the album “Eza Kungiambela” is in honour of his late father.

“Eza Kungiambela” had participations of musicians such as Nanuto, Dod’ Miranda, DJ Mania, Calo Pascoal, Yeye J’nior, Chalita, among others.

June 2006
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