CROWD-PLEASERS: Mango Groove performed at the free jazz concert on Wednesday.Picture: Phando Jikelo
Years ago, while watching Queen perform, Billy Domingo wondered why the likes of Queen, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones were on the bill at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The answer festival director Claude Nobs gave him, he has not forgotten.

“Claude said that you would die if you only went purist jazz. You’ve got to attract the wider audience,” Domingo remembered.

This idea is something that the Cape Town International Jazz Festival has always kept in mind.

“Jazz has the ability to bring people together, but Cape Town has a way of captivating people,” said Domingo. This combination brought Domingo to the idea that the festival needs to speak to Africa and the Diaspora, hence the programme changing over the years to bring more countries in with a view towards a 70/30 spilt of artists (70% artists from Africa and 30% artists from the rest of the world).

The festival is a destination event, it attracts diverse musicians and audiences globally because Cape Town has so much to offer.

This makes the festival a cultural glue for an annual visit, but Cape Town and its diverse residents make it all work.

“It’s a lifestyle event where people come to show off their fashion, network for business, see their family, while popping into Gugs (Gugulethu),” Domingo said.

The festival’s training and development programmes have grown into a life of their own. These programmes leave a legacy, ingraining a sense of cultural worth among the youth.

The workshops are more than just focused on music, they are industry-based: “Some phenomenal stories have come out of the programmes, even internally, we have seen success stories.

“As Africans, we have a resilience that allows us to move forward in hardships. It’s exciting to see how investing in our youth really does create great things.

"Education is key to change. We are very proud of the programmes we run and look forward to planning the next year,” said Domingo.

“People extract knowledge, confidence and skills from these programmes.”