By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
It became a moment to forget about everything that affects our lives in today’s contemporary South Africa. And there are so many issues that sometimes we tend to forget special moments in our lives in this beautiful country. The things that make us sad sometimes, first. These worried include whether one would wake up to find out that they cannot take a bath because there is no water from the tap, or that after a night out, one would reach home to a dark house as electricity is unreliable. Whether you have paid for it or not. These are worrisome issues indeed. But there are also good things happening in the country that uplift us from that feeling of despair that is constantly on our case these days.
Being at the Joy of Jazz festival this year at the Sandton Convention Centre that took place on September 29 and September 30 gave us the relief we all need during this time of stress. The music was good and the company was also splendid. Went there on Friday, and was struck by the fact that South African jazz music lovers love local artists as much as they love their overseas stars. You should have seen for example, how Zonke Dikana filled up the huge Mbira stage to a standing room capacity. And boy did the audience enjoy her performance.
It simply demonstrated that local jazz fans have been missing her on stage for sometime now, as just like the other local artists, even the very, good ones these days do not get to perform at concerts and festivals like before. I was also, amid the constant movement from one stage to the next, as the festival was hosted on multiple stages with good artists performing at different stages at one particular time, in a way making it difficult to choose which ones to watch, able to catch Marcus Wyatt’s show. It was indeed great to have a show where one could watch two bassists performing alongside the saxophonist, a trombonist and a horn player. I lingered there for a while, and for a good reason.
I do not care much about the initial false start to his set, but when Robert Gasper got his groove back, I forgave him for the initial hesitancy that defined his show. The man can play his ijnstrument, and play well when he decides he should. And those that went back to the festival on Saturday, tell me that he redeemed himself from the Friday’s, let us say, initial doubts and hesitancy during his performance. Apparently he was in his full element that has won the hearts and minds of many jazz lovers around the world, including in South Africa.
However, I do not know what it was, but somehow, I was not left sure about whether I would go all out to watch Big Zulu and Sjava any time soon. The two who have been honestly packing venues on their own since they started on their journey of collaboration, appeared to struggle to sing and perform in harmony. Both have good voices and impeccable stage presence, granted, but they seemed to be performing as If they were not performing in a collaborative gig. But If they fix that disharmony, I am sure there is something in these two’s collaboration, and only then will I consider going to their next gig.
But fun, I indeed had at this year’s Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, which turned 24 this year, having been founded by Peter Tladi at the South African State Theatre in 1997, and every year the festival has proved itself to be a popular entertainment event in the country.