The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown 2014, incorporates a variety of disciplines into its programme. Modern Jazz is one of the exiting genres that will be showcased at the festival this year. It is just one part of the exceptional programme which includes Mainstream, Afro-Jazz, Modern Jazz, Youth and the Standard Bank Jazz and Blues Café.
Capetonian pianist, saxophonist, composer and band leader Kyle Shepherd is the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2014. Ten years ago this prodigiously talented young man performed in Grahamstown as a member of the Standard Bank National Schools Big Band; now he stands on that same stage on the cusp of a career that promises to be significant for South African jazz. He has already released three critically-acclaimed albums, all of which have earned him South African Music Award nominations and has performed – playing his own music – in 15 countries through Africa, Europe and Asia, including significant festivals in China and Denmark and well-known jazz clubs in Switzerland and Japan. His music pays homage to his musical and cultural roots, but with an internationalism that sets him comfortably on international stages – years spent playing with Zim Ngqawana, Robbie Jansen and Errol Dyers are off-set by collaborations with cutting-edge young musicians from around the world.
Shepherd performs his music in two separate shows: Kyle Shepherd Quintet with Buddy Wells (sax), Feya Faku (trumpet), Shane Cooper (bass) and Claude Cozens (drums); and the Kyle Shepherd Trio with Shane Cooper and Jonno Sweetman (drums). Fezile Feya Faku – a Trumper/ Flugel Hornist – was born in New Brighton Port Elizabeth and started playing music without any formal training and got help from various local musicians. In 1988 he enrolled at the university of Natal to study with Darius Brubeck.
Having claimed the SBYA title, Kyle joins an illustrious group of performers that is now marking its 30th year. For three decades Standard Bank has been a central sponsor of the arts in South Africa through their support of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award. Winners of this award have always been musical fire-starters – musicians whom audiences know will set the stage alight each time they set foot on it. This year five of these past SBYA winners, each with an impressive local and international pedigree that can make us proud as a nation – Shannon Mowday (sax), Mark Fransman (sax), Afrika Mkhize (piano), Shane Cooper (bass), Kesivan Naidoo (drums) – team up for SBYA Fire to show how South African jazz can hold its own in any international arena.
In another coup, South African jazz icon Louis Moholo-Moholo performs for the first time in Grahamstown. A founding member of the legendary band The Blue Notes, he emigrated to Europe, settling in London where he formed part of a musically-profound and influential South African exile community. Moholo-Moholo is joined by Dutch cellist and composer Ernst Reijseger, recognised for his work in world music, improvised music and jazz, as well as Mark Fransman (sax), Kyle Shepherd (piano) and Shane Cooper (bass).
Although individual members of the ground-breaking, inspiring and musically sensational Norwegian Big Band Ensemble Denada have performed in Grahamstown in the past, we have finally managed to get the whole band here for 2014! The band is led by trombonist Helge Sunde – a brilliant composer and arranger with a string of awards to his name. Their music is comprised of equal portions of electronics, lyrical grace and precisely executed groove-work, along with a high level of sound development and balance of moods, melodic variety and arranging ingenuity.
Last in Grahamstown in 1998, Austrian Jazz professor Karlheinz Miklin – an internationally recognised saxophonist, educator and composer – has specialised in playing jazz trio in a variety of formats on different continents and assorted instrumentations. He returns with a Dutch bass master and South Africa’s most fiery drummer, Hein van de Geyn and Kesivan Naidoo respectively.
“Standard Bank is proud to host so many Young Artist winners in Grahamstown this year as we celebrate three decades of young artist awards”, says Hazel Chimhandamba head: Group Sponsorships.
A new Jazz Festival venue – the Standard Bank Jazz & Blues Cafe at St. Aidan’s – will offer a great jazz show every night at 21.30 with a 23.30 jazz jam session where professional and student musicians drawn from across the Jazz genres will be jamming, improvising and letting loose late into the night.
The 40th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place 3 – 13 July 2014.
Author: Fiona Gordon
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