The Lady Day Big Band will play at this year's Cape Town International Jazz Festival at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday 30 March. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - South Africa’s first all-female big band are ready to wow the Cape Town International Jazz Festival audience.

The Lady Day Big Band will play at this year's jazz festival at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday 30 March.

Founded by vocalist Lana Crowster in collaboration with acclaimed vocalist/ pianist Amanda Tiffin and respected trombonist/ composer Kelly Bell, the Lady Day Big Band launched early in 2018 at the South African Jazz Educators' Conference in Cape Town and kicked off this year presenting the South African Songbook at the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre. 

The band consists of 21 professional female artists and incorporates contemporary styles with traditional big band sounds, featuring the powerful vocal styling of Crowster.

"I have always dreamed of starting a big band that would provide a platform for professional women musicians to showcase their talents in a safe space,” said Crowster.

"This project is also about inspiring young girls who may have a passion for music. I want young girls to see us doing what we love, doing it well, and see what is possible for them.”

Tiffin, who is no stranger to Cape Town audiences, takes up the baton as conductor for this project, enthuses: ”Watching these musicians come together in such a short space of time and really own the music and their space has been a truly powerful experience.”

Other notable performances include The Cape Town Jazz Big Band Festival and the nationally syndicated Expresso Morning Show. 

The band features writing by several of its members, as well as some fresh arrangements from local composers and arrangers. Their repertoire includes an exciting mix of South African jazz, alongside popular standards and a few surprises.

Lady Day is of course a nod to Billie Holliday (1915 - 1959), the American jazz singer who had a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style - strongly influenced by jazz instrumentalists - pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.

While Holliday made her mark as a vocalist, the Lady Day Big Band is comprised of mostly instrumentalists which is remarkable even in this day and age of post modern feminism and girl power. Though the history of jazz does include the emergence of famous women musicians such as Holliday, the numbers of notable instrumentalists, composers and bandleaders, as well as all-female jazz bands, remains low due to many factors. 

The Lady Day Big Band though shows not only that women are perfectly capable of doing it for themselves but also doing it well.

The Lady Day Big Band are: Lana Crowster (lead vocals); Amanda Tiffin (conductor); Kelly Bell (lead trombone); Annemie Nel (drums); Tracey Johannes (bass) Rousanna Coxson (piano); Ariana Carini (guitar); Claire De Kock (1st alto saxohone); Ashley Laity (2nd alto saxophone); Carla Stokes (1st tenor saxophone); Chloe Rezant (2nd tenor saxophone); Georgie Jones (baritone saxophone); Christin Rohl (1st trumpet); Haley Joorst (2nd trumpet); Robyn Murning (3rd trumpet); Zanelle Kroukamp (4th trumpet); Imke Muhr (2nd trombone); Danielle Midgley (3rd trombone); Tamzyn Freeks (4th trombone); Leah Adams (backing vocals); and Anathi Mobo (backing vocals).

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