It was all about jazz and a partnership that has stood the test of time for the past 21 years.
Hosted by the quintessential Thabo ‘Tbose’ Mokwele, the official launch of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz was a taste of what’s to come.
The entertainment was revealed in sections: voices and instruments - horns, piano, drums, etc - that would make up the three days.
A special horn summit will be held on the opening night in honour of Hugh Masekela and will feature Feya Faku, Khaya Mahlangu, Mthunzi Mvubu, Barney Rachabane, Sydney Mavundla, Siphamandla Bhembe and Mandla Mlangeni on the Dinaledi Stage.
There will also be a tribute to Louis Armstrong, who gifted Bra Hugh with his first trumpet. The formidable Cassandra Wilson and alto saxophonist extraordinaire David Sanborn will also feature on the Dinaledi stage for a one-night only performance.
“Each year, the Joy of Jazz grows in leaps and bounds with experience and maturity; 20 years ago Standard Bank realised the potential of this brand and invested in it,” said Peter Tladi, chief executive of T-Musicman, the founders of the event.
“Through the years, we were able to promote this festival with partners such as the Department of Arts and Culture, Gauteng provincial government, the City of Joburg, Tsogo Sun and media houses that gave us support and promoted the festival.
“These partners are the drivers of the trains seeking new destinations to spread the love of jazz,” Tladi added.
Also among the performers lined up for the 21st-year celebration are the iconic Oliver Mtukudzi, Bilal, reigning Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for Jazz Thandi Ntuli, Kyle Shepherd, Femi Koya, the Afro Beat and Sydney Mavundla.
Poet Sibulelo Namathela set the tone for the event with her poetry at the launch venue, Milk Bar, in Parkmore, Joburg.
“Music of resistance for a people drowning in injustice. May we remember his valour, his courage his mastery, may we remember the old trumpet,” she recited as a tribute to Masekela.
Standard Bank’s Thulani Sibeko said many young lives had improved through the access and training opportunities that the festival had made possible.
“We’ve also been encouraged by the cohesion and sense of community that is activated by the annual gathering that has become a key part of the South African calendar.
“This year the line-up of artists is exciting. It represents the best that we have on the continent of Africa. This year the fest will help us share our message about the centrality of jazz and art in a human world. As we step into the 21st year since we began our journey we have the security and confidence of two decades of living up to the promises we make annually to jazz lovers.
“We are looking forward to providing unparalleled access to the best jazz music in the world through our expertly curated programme and line-up as much as we are excited to be able to contribute to the development of our cultural economy.
“The jobs created annually by the festival, the education and training opportunities for young people on and off the stage are all part of one vision that underpins what we mean by joy in the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz,” said Tladi.
Billed are more than 30 musicians representing jazz living heritages of five continents: Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US.
* The festival takes place from September 27 to 29 at the Sandton Convention Centre.