National Arts Festival: Jazz In Black And White

by People Magazine
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national arts festival

The National Arts Festival’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival is offering a wide variety of local and international acts this year and they did not disappoint!

Starting off with a four night programme featuring a host of Big Band ensembles such as international star Sweden’s Nils Landgren’s and his Massive Funk Big Band, as well local jazz artist Marcus Wyatt’s ZAR Jazz Orchestra. Also performing is Standard Bank Young Artist 2019 winner Mandla Mlangeni and his Amandla Freedom Ensemble Trumpet, New York’s Too Many Zooz and Chinese duo Coco Zhou and Huang Juanyi, as well as Shane Cooper’s Mabuta, Facing South, Asanda and many more.  Take a look at these portraits of these talented local and international artists:

national arts festival

Mandla Mlangeni: Standard Bank Young Artist 2019

Mlangeni has come a long way since he was a member of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band in 2006.This year, with his Amandla Freedom Ensemble Trumpet, he explored a different side to his music – intending it to be he says, ‘an odyssey of musical meditation and healing; a journey into the less travelled where sonic realms are constantly in flux. He says, “Ours is a canvas of our imagination where our colours are hues of an ascending melodic line or the crescendo of boisterous horns grooving to the syncopated rhythms of a new song”. The NAF website describes Mlangeni as ‘using his peers as the foundation of the group, but then asks three musical elders to join him for inspiration in drawing from the past to reach a new present.”

Nils Landgren

Makanda and The Standard Bank Jazz Festival proudly presented what they called ‘an all-star band of top South African and European musicians, the Funk Big Band, this time led by Nils Landgren’. Described as ‘one of the funkiest musicians in the world’, the conductor/ composer and trombone player has played with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, the Crusaders, Joe Sample and Wyclef Jean.

national arts festival

Fredrik Noren 

Trumpeter with the Nils Landgren Funk Big Band.

Marcus Wyatt  – ZAR Orchestra, Funk Big Band, Bombshelter Beast

Marcus Wyatt, is described as one of South Africa’s premier jazz musicians.  According to the National Arts Festival site, ‘he has led a number of projects in recent years that echo the sounds of genre-defining composers and performers in our musical history, polishing the ideas with the new shine of South Africa’s modern internationalism’.  Wyatt, who founded the 17 piece ZAR Jazz Orchestra, also played with Nils Funk Big Band, and his Bombshelter Beast band, which is a fusion of kwaito, rap, marching band and Baltic sounds.

national arts festival

Romy Brauteseth ZAR Orchestra, Bombshelter Beast

Port Elizabeth born Romy  learnt to play electric bass and read music and played in the Victoria Park High School Big Band. She was chosen for the National Schools Big Band in 2005 and the National Youth Band in 2010. In 2011 she started playing the upright bass and has now played with many top South African Artists.

national arts festival

Andreas Tschopp

Trombonist and Jazz Werkstatt festival organiser in Switzerland – played with the Nils Landgren Funk Big Band and ZAR Jazz Orchestra.

national arts festival

Sydney Mavundla

The local trumpeter played with the ZAR Jazz Orchestra and Jeff ‘Siege’ Siegel  Quartet.

national arts festival

Ariel Zamonsky and Juana Pires Rafael

Argentinian duo Ariel & Juana is collaborative project between upright and electric bass player Ariel Zamonsky and vocalist Juana Pires Rafael – Argentinian-born but currently based in South Africa. They combine ‘Latin American folklore, jazz standards and original compositions informed by South African jazz’.

national arts festival

Robin Fassie Playing for Shane Cooper in Mabuta

The Naf website says Mabuta, harnessing some of the strongest young voices in our country at the moment, is undoubtedly one of the freshest and most innovative sounds featured in the South African contemporary jazz scene today’.

national arts festival

Facing South with Damian Roos

Capetonians guitarist David Ledbetter and vocalist Amanda Tiffin make up acoustic duo Facing South. They performed with Damian Roos jazz vocalist – and joined up with visiting Brazilian maestro pianist/accordionist Guilherme Ribeiro and internationally acclaimed Dutch bassist Hein van de Geyn.

national arts festival

Coco Zhao and Huang Juanji 

According to the National Arts Festival bio Coco, ‘was a student of western classical piano and composition at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He discovered a new world in jazz vocals and has since been immersed in finding the unique cross-sections between Chinese traditional music, western classical music and jazz’.

national arts festival

Touring with him is pianist Huang Juanji – the first Master’s graduate in Jazz from the Shanghai Conservatory.

Francesa Tanksley For The Jeff ‘Siege’ Siegel Quartet

Francesa Tanksley plays piano with New York jazz artist Jeff  Siegel, joined also by local Trumpeter Feya Faku and others.  Drummer Siegel ‘has a serious jazz pedigree’, having played in the Sir Roland Hanna Trio for six years and many other well known jazz musicians. His latest project is described as ‘reconnecting the American jazz scene with some of its African roots – King of the Xhosa is intended to celebrate African and American cultures in an exchange of languages that have shaped Jazz music over the years’.

national arts festival

Asanda Mqiki

Another artist from Port Elizabeth, vocalist Asanda draws on a number of genres in her performances, including the afro-funk, jazz, soul and traditional genres. She has performed with  platinum-selling a cappella group The Soil and was also lead vocalist for band Take Note. She has played around South Africa and in Sweden, Mozambique and Australia and has won multiple awards. 

national arts festival

While taking in all the amazing art and culture on offer, don’t forget to do your bit for the severe water shortages  Makanda is having to deal with:

Amanzi Yimpilo Project (Water is Life)
Help secure water tanks for the Amanzi Yimpilo Project.  They aim to provide sustainable source of clean water for drinking, basic hygiene and cooking in Day Care Centres in Makhanda, for about 1200 children between the ages of 0-5 years old. 
How To Donate:
1. Show your #AfricanheART by downloading and use Snapscan app to make a donation
2. Join the conversation on our Arts social communities using #SnapforWater

Photographs: Jonathon Rees

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