CTICC.04.04.13. AfroPop duo Mafikizolo are reunited with Nhlanhla Nciza and Theo Kgosinkwe belting it out during the opening act of this year's Cape Town International Jazz Festival held at the Cape Town Convention Centre on Friday night. Picture Ian Landsberg

It’s music to the organisers’ ears: weekend passes to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival on March 28 and 29 have already sold out, and day passes are going fast.

Since its debut in 2000 the festival has drawn as many as 34 000 people over the two-day period to see and hear 40 performers on five stages at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Artists from across the world will grace the city for the 15th annual edition of the festival.

Founder and director Rashid Lombard said tickets to this year’s festival were selling faster than last year when the show sold out two months in advance.

“It’s a great indication of the esteem in which the festival is held, internationally as well as in Cape Town,” Lombard said. “Even though we’ve only announced 20 of the expected 40 artists, the interest has been unparalleled.”

Rapha SoSyk, a software developer from Zimbabwe who has called Cape Town home for the past several years, said he was glad he snagged a weekend pass early. Once the headlining acts The Foreign Exchange and Erykah Badu were announced, he didn’t waste any time.

“Those are headliners that people have been dying to see for a long time,” he said. “I’m excited, it’s very neat. I’m counting down the days actually.”

Lombard said about 7 000 tickets were left for each day of the festival. Acts such as locals Jimmy Nevis, Soul Housing Project and The Soil will feature alongside international groups such as the Kenny Garrett Quintet and Carmen Lundy. Organisers will announce the remaining 20 performers on January 28.

But for “Africa’s grandest gathering”, the two days are about more than showcasing jazz talent. Workshops will give photographers opportunities to learn and practise their craft, and this year’s journalism training programme, “Reviving the Drumbeat”, will offer budding reporters the chance to hone their skills by covering performances. Scouts from Berklee College of Music in the US will hold auditions for scholarships to the university.

The master classes series lets attendees hear from the musicians directly about their lives and careers, and students from the Western Cape’s disadvantaged primary and high schools can attend exclusive demonstrations by some of the musicians through the Intyholo Jazz Development courses.

For some, Lombard said, the festival was “a life-changing experience, and we’ve been having amazing outcomes for students”.

Individual day tickets are still available from Computicket and Shoprite Checkers outlets for R490. - Cape Argus