An exciting array of contrasting bands and musical arrangements await the listeners on Friday and Saturday evenings of the Jazz Festival (13/14 October). There’s a big band, small bands, trios and quintets, and even a solo act. The most contrasting of the sub-genres of jazz is the Cape-based youth ensemble, Jazz Yard Academy, which will focus on South African Standards, and the experienced American-based singer, Yvette Norwood-Tiger, who is celebrating the contributions of the First Lady of Song in the American jazz tradition, Ella Fitzgerald. In her repertoire for A’LA ELLA!, Norwood-Tiger will present songs composed by Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Duke Ellington, songs made famous by Ella’s voice. Norwood-Tiger convincingly presents Ella’s at times child-like quality and vulnerability in her voice, such as in ‘A Tisket-A Tasket’ and ‘Too Darn Hot’. But Ella was also known for her scatting, and the audience can expect to hear some Ella-inspired scatting in songs, such as ‘Night In Tunisia’ and ‘How High The Moon’.
This is Norwood-Tiger’s first visit to South Africa on her celebratory World tour, made wholesome and well-rounded by the supports of local musicians in her band, pianist Blake Hellaby, double bassist Sean Sanby, drummer Lumanyano ‘Unity’ Mzi, and Marco Maritz on trumpet. Her musical career kicked off from a musical family and journeyed into vocal coaching, songwriting, and work with the GRAMMYs. She performs worldwide and in several languages, but as an African-American, she looks forward to touching ground in her ancestral homeland of Africa, and specifically blessings our shores with the sonic charm.
Don’t miss her performance on Saturday, 14 October!
Jazz Yard Academy
On another side of our local jazzscape is the youthful, joyous, and hard working ensemble of teenagers from the Cape Flats, an historically marginalised area known to produce some of South Africa’s most legendary musicians. According to Chris Petersen, musical director for the Jazz Yard Academy (JYA), this ensemble will be performing a mixture of Cape Jazz covers and originals, as well as a selection funky Jazz covers. He says, “The kids have been encouraged to change arrangements, improvise freely and naturally in any song and in any key thrown at them, and I believe that their audiences are mesmerised by their youthful passion and the way they enjoy themselves on stage, never showing signs of stress. They are also blown away by the fact that the originals (composed mostly by two of the 14yr olds) are so innovative and diverse.”
JYA prefers the word “Academy”, instead of “Band”, because “academy” is aligned with learning, growth and long term success, whereas “band” is associated with short term commercialism and instant glorification, with little respect for long term planning. Their learning philosophy also employs an egalitarian treatment amongst the young musicians, stressing at all times the avoidance of glorifying a specific kid, even if he/she does an amazing solo. “We let the clip speak for itself.” Their motto is “Spread the Love.” The educational focus is to nourish and protect the interests of the valuable Cape Jazz Music heritage.
So expect to hear this zesty group on stage on Friday, 13 October, and have your socks blown off!