Jazz festival thrills

The sixth edition was an impressive event with a stand out line up of performers from Zimbabwe’s small but proud jazz scene. The arrangement and organisation of the show was up to scratch and matched other international jazz showcases.

But to those who attended, it showed that Zimbabweans are happy people, who want to dance, they want to go out, they love life and want their musicians to colour it.

Revellers paid through the nose while beer was expensive. This was the most expensive show according to Zimbabwean standards but surprisingly, the show was sold out.

The marriage between Nestle Zimbabwe, through their brand Nescafe Ricoffy and Jazz 105 turned the festival into a top drawer show where there was a lot of thrills and entertainment for jazz lovers.

Billed as the prestigious jazz event on the calendar, this year theme was “Proudly Zimbabwean, Proudly Ours.”

Each of the 21 performers gave their best in music and the quality sound added a sparkle to the event.

Friday saw live entertainment by Mbare Trio, Charles Summerfield, Jazz Invitation, Kuchinei Chatsama, Victor Kunonga and Overdrive Jazz Band.

The Bulawayo-based group ‘ Overdrive Jazz Band was the toast of the day as the group rocked the crowd. This was their first time to play in Harare and their debut performances wowed many.

Kunonga who is working on the follow up to his debut Such Is Life ‘ Ndakanyengetedzwa gave fans a foretaste of the upcoming album.

Then came Mbare Trio whose debut album Uru Rufaro mesmerised many revellers. Fronted by the Mbirimis ‘ Clancy, Friday and Lovejoy ‘ the group dished out their township jazz like it was their last day on mother earth.

Some of the group’s popular numbers include Gaba Remanyuchi written by Oliver Mtukudzi, Anojiwa Hataure, a revamped classic by the late System Tazvida and Tinobva Mbare.

However, there were some revellers who were not amused by the inclusion of some musicians generally regarded as jazz musicians.

But the whole line up had something for everyone such that it became difficult to single out one group as the best. On Saturday there were High School bands ‘ Prince Edward and Churchill, who as usual open the day’s live show.

But it was Bob Nyabinde, Dumi Ngulube and Afrika Revenge who turned on the style to put up a polished act that got revellers talking. Nyabinde who is also affectionately known as the Headmaster by his fans was great. He performed some of his popular tunes and those from his latest album Terera.

Afrika Revenge took time to introduce some of their yet to be released songs and what a show it was.

Afrika Revenge is also working on its second album although they featured on Tanyaradzwa motion picture soundtrack.

The Cool Crooners deserve special mention as the group literally razed the roof with their laidback cuts. Of course, they performed their usual stuff but fans still loved every bit of it.

Patience Musa and her backing group The Other Four were a joy to listen to. Most jazz lovers could not help but sing along with her as she performed soothing music. The festival ended last Sunday with a fresh line up of artistes including Steve “Dhongi” Makoni who was one of the debutants at this year’s fete gave his best shot.

He belted his popular numbers like Handiende, Maidei and Zvachonyana and in between songs, he would crack side-splitting jokes that sent the crowd into tears of laughter. Makoni has been performing at the joint as a solo artists and his shows are well attended.

The crowd screamed: “one more, one more!” and the organisers had to call Makoni back on stage to perform a send off track. He did not disappoint and delivered another cut.

Other stand out performances were by The Cannibals, Ladies In Jazz, Mawungira Enharira, Dino Mudondo, Willom Tight as well as bass guitarist Josh Mech and his group Maonero.

Perhaps the break up between Dino and Willom did not yield any results such that the duo is still very much around and very much hooked together.

Of course, their performance had all the ingredients of a five star show. Dino performed Chirangano, Makoikoi and Ndichakumirira much the delight of the crowd. But their combination with Willom on vocals was sheer magic.

Some fans were surprised to see Mawungira Enharira, a mbira group being included on the line up but the organisers said the group what is known mbira jazz.

They said jazz music was influenced by many African music including the sounds of mbira instrument.

Quoting from an unnamed source, Dr Obadiah Moyo who was the guest of honour said local jazz music comes in many varieties and was vital.

“South African musical form called marabi, popular among people in urban ghettoes became progressively more complex and urbane. Kwela was all the rage during the 50’s, now that the 21st century has hit Zimbabwe, it’s become impossible to resolve the many influences which give the region’s music its particular flavour. Zimbabwean jazz artistes have managed to create powerful polyrhythms that are most striking and moving element of local music.

“Zimbabwean ensembles definitely have the capacity to construct layer upon layer of rhythmic patterns, forging a counterpoint of time signatures and polyphony of percussions.”

He said jazz had exploded both in amount and diversity.

The masters of ceremonies Emmanuel Manyika and DJ D-Train entertained the crowd that included several officials from Nestle Zimbabwe.

Josh Hozheri, the organiser of the event said the three-day jazz feast lived up to expectations and a resounding success.

“Every year the festival is growing we were particulalry happy with the attendance because we had a huge turnout than last year and everything else went as scheduled. We showcased our Zimbabwean artistes as you know this is an event that gives them the platform that recognises their unique creativity. Besides this, every artiste got the spotlight as they performed 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 would give part of the show’s proceeds to charity through the “Donate a blanket and warm somebody this winter” campaign where performing artistes led in the 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,” he said.

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.

July 2006
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