The emphasis of this year’s Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is on vocalists and a strong South African line-up. Almost all the vocalists who will be performing have won awards – from Grammys to Down Beat Jazz Polls.
Each will also be backed by their own groups. The world’s No 1 male jazz vocalist, Gregory Porter, will be bringing band members Chip Crawford on piano, Aaron James on bass, Emanuel Harrold on drums and Yosuke Sato on alto sax, who all performed with him on his Grammy-winning CD Liquid Spirit.
Among the female vocalists are Roberta Gambarini and Ann Hampton Callaway, both masters of the Great American Songbook. Callaway’s trio has Ted Rosenthal at the piano, one of the great bass players in the world, Martin Wind, and drummer Tim Horner.
The popular Dianne Reeves returns after a few years absence, as do bassist Wind, and drummer Horner, who has an impressive jazz CV.
There will also be pianist Laurence Hobgood, who was here last year, with Kurt Elling, plus Abe Lagrimas on bass and Gary Wicks, who played drums for Manhattan Transfer.
R&B and hip hop fans will be delighted with Dwele from the US and Billy Ocean from England. On the contemporary side, electric bassist Richard Bono should do the trick.
Three trumpeters will be leading their groups. They are Roy Hargrove, who will be bringing fiery alto saxman and flautist Justin Robinson, pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Ameen Saleem and drummer Quincy Phillips. The group will also play for Gambarini. Christian Scott from New Orleans, who missed last year’s Joy of Jazz, will make up for that this year with his brand of jazz influenced by his New Orleans upbringing and Mardi Gras Indian, and Tomasz Stanko, from Poland, who with musicians from Finland and Scandinavia promises to offer new sounds from that part of the world.
Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa is expected to play something from his latest piano solo CD, and with his band Afri-Lectric Experience, music from his highly acclaimed CD Eggun, which is a tribute to Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue recording. Inspired by various musical elements and motifs from Kind of Blue, Sosa wrote this suite of music honouring the spirit of freedom in Davis’s seminal work. It provides a medium for musical elements from Africa to shape and develop the music, and the resulting jazz textures are further enriched by the subtle and expressive use of electronic elements. At the heart of the recording is the spirit of Mother Africa.
Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis will lead the Uptown Jazz Orchestra though some real New Orleans jazz, swing, bebop and brass band funk. Wolfgang Diefenbach, founder and artistic director of the Hessian State Youth Jazz Orchestra, also known as Kicks & Sticks is a German band playing Ellington and Basie swing as well as Latino and Cuban jazz.
Spearheading the South African artists is Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The inimitable Carlo Mombelli is always an experience to listen to. He fronts a heavyweight group of Kyle Shepherd on piano, drummer Kesivan Naidoo and vocalist/songwriter Mbuso Khoza. Shepherd will feature with Jonno Sweetman on drums and Shane Cooper on bass.
Trumpeter and flugelhorn player Feya Faku has lined up an all-star group of Nduduzo Makhathini on piano, William Haubrich on trombone, Romy Brauteseth on bass and Kesivan Naidoo on drums.
The Mike Rossi Project is another powerhouse group with the leader playing tenor sax, Andrew Ford on piano, James McClure on trumpet, William Haubrich on trombone, Wesley Rustin on bass and the inimitable Kesivan Naidoo on drums.
Jonas Gwangwa is also on the bill as are Gloria Bosman, Melanie Scholtz, Sibongile Khumalo and Tutu Puoane.
Renowned bassist and composer, Nduduzo Makhathini, drummer Ayanda Sikade and tenor saxophonist Sisonke Xonti, brings his take on Afro-jazz and will lead pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, drummer Ayanda Sikade and tenor saxophonist Sisonke Xonti.
Joy of Jazz runs from September 25 to 27 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Book at Computicket.