Jimmy Dludlu to spice up Jazz Fest

Jazz revellers will be treated to some groovy jazz music this spring as the Old Mutual Jazz Festival comes to town.

This year’s jazz festival will take place on the 8 October and families and friends will be entertained by masters of the genre who include Major 7’s, Adora, The Fu Jazz All Star Band, and R.U.N NAMS featuring Lize Ehlers, Big Ben, Suzy Eises and the Jazz band.

South African jazz legends Jimmy Dludlu and Simphiwe Dana will add an international flavour to the festival which will be held at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek.

Dludlu will be the trump card to this year’s jazz fest and he is no stranger to the region, having worked with various southern African bands including Impandze from Swaziland, featuring Jamaican singer Trevor Hall, Kalahari and Satari from Botswana, as well as Anansi, featuring the Ghanaian saxophonist George Lee.

A founder member of the highly successful group Loading Zone, which went on to tour across the continent, backing a range of South African stars including Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, Chicco and Sipho Mabuse, Dludlu toured Namibia with Loading Zone in 1992, where they were spotted by then Zairean world-music star Papa Wemba, who subsequently asked the band to back him on several dates in Namibia.

Today, Jimmy Dludlu’s style includes wide-ranging influences, combining both traditional and modern elements of jazz drawn from among others Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Pat Metheny, to South African legends Miriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu, Hugh Masekela, Themba Mokwena, and Allen Kwela.

Namibian revelers are likely to be drawn to the sounds of west and central Africa, as well as Latin America, although Dludlu’s numerous original compositions fall within the tradition of what has been loosely termed Afro-Jazz.
The jazz festival, which is organised by Old Mutual, has become an annual event since inception in 2007, and many enthusiasts in Namibia always look forward to this important event on the jazz music calendar.

International artists like Lira, Judith Sepuma, Zamajobe Don Laka, Vusi Mahlasela and Freshly Ground, just to name few, have graced previous events to woo thousands of music lovers.

The jazz festival has grown in leaps and bounds over the years with its fan base increasing from 100 people attending the first jazz festival in 2007 at Zoo Park in Windhoek to 4000 enthusiasts attending last year’s event at Vegkop Stadium.

According to Old Mutual’s Manetti Ashante: “The success of this event has surpassed all expectations and has matured to an event of fundamental magnitude for its scale and positive contribution to the community as whole.”

Ashante added that Old Mutual’s primary objective was ’to engage the community, in addition to this, the Jazz encounters aim to promote the genre locally by providing a platform for fresh upcoming Namibian talent’.

Over the years, the festival has introduced a substantial number of new and upcoming local musicians to the market and has assisted in showcasing the vast array of local talent. Furthermore, it has exposed local musicians to international acts.

The different local acts to perform at the festival go through a series of auditions where superintended by an experienced panel of judges. The acts that score the highest marks are chosen to be part of the Old Mutual Jazz Encounter.

“Old Mutual consistently strives to do great things every year and make every jazz encounter more special and bigger than the last,” Ashante said.

In 2008 lucky fans won an all-expenses paid trip to the 2009 Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and this year fans stand a chance to win fabulous prizes including Blackberry phones.

Ashante promised jazz lovers a night to remember as this year’s event will be another evening filled with live music, and an opportunity to mingle and relax and celebrate the coming of spring and summer in style.

“It is going to be yet, another tantalizing evening of magic and jazz as well as a great performance by our local musicians along stars Jimmy Dludlu and Simphiwe Dana.”

The origins of jazz

What we call jazz music is a genre that was started in the late 19th century in New Orleans in the United States of America and was played by African-Americans and Creole musicians.

It was common for many black musicians to play in the red light district and some marching bands that were put together within the African-American community. Between the years of 1890 and 1910, the emancipation of slaves meant that there were new educational opportunities for newly freed African slaves. However, their employment prospects was poor, therefore black musicians started providing low class entertainment in bars, clubs in order to earn a living.

From 1910 to 1917 night’s sports in storyville, New Orleans red light district became the ideal environment for Jazz. Bands usually consisted of a cornet or trumpet, a trombone, a clarinet, a banjo or guitar. Generally, the early musicians could not make very much money and were stuck to working menial jobs to survive.

The second wave of New Orleans jazz include musicians Joe Oliver, Kid Ory, and Jelly Roll Morton. These men formed small bands and took the music of earlier musicians, improved its complexity and gained greater success.

Louis Armstrong was discovered in New Orleans and became one of the greatest jazz legends and biggest star in the world.