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MJF 2017, Review

A review by Joey Fourie

I was taken through to the 7th Heaven of Jazz, a brief moment of bliss, when I attended the Muizenberg Jazz Festival in October. The world stood still for a little while and I drank from the jazz well and replenished my soul. I’m talking about JAZZ, the real McCoy – pun intended.

Setting: Idyllic Muizenberg
Venue: Intimate Masque Theatre
Event: Muizenberg Jazz Festival

STAGE ONE

The JAZZ YARD ACADEMY started me on this heavenly trajectory on Friday evening, as the opening act of the inaugural Muizenberg Jazz Festival, thanks to Ulla Gosebrink (director), Muriel Marco (stage production) and Koko Kalashe (host). Students, ranging in age between 14-18yrs, supremely talented yet humble, with mentors Judith Kennedy, Marc Fransch and Chris Petersen (among others) were with them. Long-standing supporters, Owen Granger, Richard Arends and Al Petersen were also in attendance.

Jazz Yard Academy pianist and drummer

I was immediately transported to a heavenly plane. I was off, sailing to Joshua’s soaring saxophone, Curtley Cerfontein kapping his keyboard to Ghoema, Quinley Lodewyk holding the rhythm with consummate ease and Tyrese Stuurman bringing angels to attention with his licks.

I found myself in 1st Heaven, reserved for the nurtured young jazz talent and their mentors.

STAGE TWO

Bokani Dyer, a rare piano solo

Bokani Dyer, pianist composer and producer, taking aspirant jazz talent of Kronnendal Academy from Houtbay and Jazz Yard Academy from Bonteheuwel, through their paces at a music workshop on Saturday. The workshop was arranged by Diane Rossi and sponsored by South African Jazz Education (SAJE).

Bokani Dyer chose to focus his lesson on the music of South Africa’s great Bheki Mseleku, pianist, saxophonist, guitarist, composer and arranger extraordinaire (who was entirely self-taught). Bokani expertly took his eager students through Nants’ Inkululeko, a track off Bheki’s album ‘Home at Last’.

SUCH a thrill to be present, and there I was in 2nd Heaven, reserved for jazz development and empowerment practitioners.

STAGE THREE
Photo of MSMF taken from backstage

MSMF from the wings

Early evening drinks in the foyer of the Masque Theatre, with the strains of MSMF filtering through from the theatre lead by Muizenberg’s own Keegan Steenkamp on tantalising trumpet. Mingling in the foyer with like-minded jazz enthusiasts, Enrico Fourie (my cousin from another mother, surprising us with his visit to CT from Jozi), Gregory Franz and Jeffrey Abrahams (two fantastic jazz photographers), Hazel Jacobs (ex CTIJF Logistics), Rod Solomons (organiser of the Oude Molen Jazz Festival) et al.

Something stirred within as I entered 3rd Heaven in the company of this throng of jazz enthusiasts. Utter bliss!

STAGE FOUR

McCoy’s show-stopper

McCoy Mrubata (Artist Page) from Langa, Cape to Cairo, via Johannesburg and now back under the mountain … playing his own compositions with killer side-men Kevin Gibson [the groove he brings!], Blake Hellaby and Shaun Johannes of gentle Little Giant fame.

I was transposed into 4th Heaven, reserved for a special breed of SA Jazz, composition and finding your voice.

STAGE FIVE

Yvette’s awesome band from Cape Town

Ah, the romance that jazz brings! Yvette Norwood-Tiger celebrating the music of Ella Fitzgerald. An engaging, consummate professional from the USA, her side-men of the best from Cape Town, brought us under the influence. Blake Hellaby on grand piano, Lumanyano Unity Mzi on drums, Sean Sanby on upright bass and Marco Maritz on trumpet.

The ensemble entranced, romanced and ultimately mesmerized us … bewitched, bothered, and then bewildered. I had arrived in the 5th Heaven, the resting place of jazz romantics.

STAGE SIX

The Buddy Wells Quartet

I was unprepared for the impending rapture that my Buddy (with apology to Trevor) took me through. His musical style so full of passion, connects with a deep burn that ignites a fire within. A message to relay from the jazz gods that says to the world “live in harmony, seek justice, express yourself, break barriers”.

The Buddy Wells Quartet, together with Kevin Gibson, Shane Cooper and Reza Khota, led us down the path of activism and the art form as a force for change.

The door opened to the 6th Heaven, where jazz and justice reign.

STAGE SEVEN

Ramon Alexander and his band

Then the highlight: Ramon Alexander called us with his Ghoema Rhythm, quintessential sound of the Cape. He demanded we go back to the root, and look within, to ask questions about our identity.

His band, comprised of Annemie Nel, Chadleigh Gowar and Bradley Prince, cajoled us to find our inner Ghoema Rhythm. We swayed, we jived. We just HAD to move as he took us to the inner sanctuary of the 7th Heaven …

Cape Jazz, our own music. Our own expression. Give me a spot where I can dance. Do a jive with Madiba. Touch Basil and Robbie again. Talk to Hotep. Listen one more time to Winston.

BUT, pretty please keep a place for me in that special room of substance, of justice for jazz, where the development and empowerment of our young people is paramount. Take me back to the 2nd Heaven, please!