Bilal joins the Line-Up at Cape Town International Jazz Festival

bilalaOh, to hear the opening strains to Soul Sister, to close our eyes and be swept away by the swelling vocal crescendos of Sometimes… damn, Bilal playing at this years Cape Town International Jazz Festival is the best news since we heard about our poor Guru (who by the way is thankfully out of his coma).  It was so dope to see Bilal a few years ago at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam,  where he mesmerized the crowd and had ladies nearly nekked with lurve for his sexy ways… We’re sure Bilal will deliver hands down once again and we urge you of course to GO GO GO.  We will try to see just how up close and personal we can get.

Bilal, one of the world’s most well-respected and highly sought after live acts performing exquisite, pitch-perfect, old-soul hip-hop tinged vocal gymnastics like no other completes the line-up for the 11th Cape Town Jazz Festival.

From the humble streets of Philadelphia to The Big Apple, Brooklyn has been the aural disseminator’s base from where three albums worth of brilliance have, thus far, been realised.

As his keen insistence saw him plough through and challenge his chosen genre Bilal quickly caught the attention and made fans of soul jazz legends Giles Peterson, the Roots, Dr. Dre, Jay Z and Raphael Saddiq. It was Erykah Badu who, upon hearing his early Brooklyn demo’s, hired the prodigy to not only perform, but also produce her 2000 album Mama’s Gun.

Dedicated to old-school, the former jazz musician navigates comfortably around all things percussion, organ and guitar-based. In 2001, at the age of only 21, Bilal’s aptly titled 17-track autobiographical debut 1st Born Second shook the larger neo-soul tree to way beyond its knotted root core where it celebrated comparisons to the true greats. The most memorable confirmation came when critics set it up alongside D’Ángelo’s 2000 Voodoo album, labelling it the ‘smoother stepchild’. From there the rollercoaster was well and truly set in its tracks and was hurtling, at blinding speed, up the charts and into live arena’s right around the world.

“His voice – including a terrific falsetto, can still a room. He has the ability to head in unexpected directions, at the edge of off-key, only to bring back the song with emotional satisfaction that comes when risks pay off” – The Boston Globe
In 2003 he delivered his startling second collection of songs titled Love For Sale. The album was never officially released, but rather bootlegged by hungry fans and one which Vibe magazine tagged ‘psycho soul’. From “How Do You Do You” and “All The Humans Make Some Noise” what’s clear is Bilal enjoys pacing himself and his growing audience, almost insisting that each of his releases find their way in the world, all in their own sweet time.

From recording with Blue Note’s Robert Glasper’s Jazz Trio, this classical and operatic talent, musically fluent in no less than seven languages, has made friends and laid down tracks that have elevated the albums of his peers. Common, John Legend, Boney James and Kayne West all count him part critical to their respective ever-spreading global impressions.

Describing Mos Def, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Q-Tip and Erykah Badu as; “our forefathers” Bilal’s inspiration has seen him grow into a musical phenomenon, untouchable as he swerves out between jazz, blues, funk and soul – defying traditional definition and clear-cut pigeonholing.

Writer of both lyric and note, few in Bilal’s field can claim such a rich understanding of soul and jazz’ respective rich chemistry as he does. Steadfast and dynamic, this multi-talent is pitch perfect and emotionally armed to the teeth, ready to deploy a barrage of lyrical wizardry reserved for the ticket-wielding loyal. “When I perform I live the music,” Bilal told MTV when asked what fans can expect from him in live performance. “I’m expressing whatever emotion lies in the song,” he concludes. “I can’t help that, ‘cause I’m living it!

September 2009 saw Los Angeles based record label, Plug Research, celebrate a coup when they signed Bilal in readiness for his next full-length album. Scheduled for release this year, festival goers are sure to get a slice or three of his 20/20 2010 musical vision that’s a plethora of soul, jazz, rock and electronica.

As his first official release in eight years, the 11th Cape Town Jazz Festival is one of the first platforms on the continent sharing in a full history lesson that will culminate in future promise and leave the audience richer for having shared a room with greatness.

“Bilal embodies the spirits of our legendary forefathers-with-voices with a funky new-age twist” – Essence Magazine

Bilal joins the spectacular line-up of 42 artists that will play on five stages over two days.   Other artist include George Benson ‘An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat King Cole’ with 28-piece orchestra  and “Greatest Hits” Jonathan Butler with special guests Rick Braun and Richard Elliot,  Michaela Rabitsch & Robert Pawlik Quartet; Ronny Jordan Organ Trio, Vusi Mahlasela, Selaelo Selota, and Toots Thielemans Quartet, Amanda Tiffin, BLK JKS, Bokani Dyer Quartet feat Buddy Wells, Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Charles Lloyd New Quartet, Delft Youth Big Band conducted by Ian Smith, Gauteng Jazz Orchestra, Glenn Robertson Jazz Band, Iridium Project, Jason Moran & The Bandwagon, Judith Sephuma, Kesivan & The Lights: Instigators of the Revolution. feat. Feya Faku, Lira, Marcus Wyatt Language 12, Makeson Browne & Akoustik Knot feat. Johan Hörlén, McCoy Tyner Trio with special guest Gary Bartz, Melanie Scholtz.,  Mervyn Africa’s Kaap Finale, Mezzoforte, MiKANiC with Zolani Mahola & Buddy Wells, Musa Manzini, Paulo Flores, Rachelle Ferrell, Regina Carter’s “Reverse Thread”, Sammy Hartman Project feat Robbie Jansen & Ezra Ngcukana, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, Stix Hojeng, Tete Mbambisa, The Bad Plus, Allou April, Jeff Lorber, LA MELODIA and TKZee.

The festival will take place at the CTICC, on Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th April, for more information go to: or see below

Ticket prices for the 2010 festival are: R330 for single day pass and a two-day weekend pass is R485. As in previous years, there will be an extra fee of R25 per act for patrons wishing to attend concerts on the Rosies stage. Tickets are available at Computicket and Shoprite-Checkers stores.

The success of the festival would have not been possible had it not been the generosity of sponsors. The gold sponsors for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2010 are: Department of Arts and Culture, Ritek Empredentos. Other sponsors include Provincial Government of the Western Cape, The City of Cape Town, Grolsch, Jack Daniels, SA Tourism, Polo, Pepper Club and Nokia Siemens Networks.


Feb 9
I can hear the Woop!Woop! of fans all over South Africa at the news that the legendary George Benson will be playing live at this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival…

Remind yourself of the man’s sweet style that influenced many a musician since his soulfull career began in the 70s… although according to Wikipedia, he was strumming the blues in public places at 8 years old already… A few reminders of his sweet style:

Singing with Jill Scott – Summertime
Doing his classic – On Broadway

However, we’ll be hanging close to the Bassline stage to catch the superb line-up:

Guru’s Jazzmatazz feat. Solar & the 7 Grand Players (LE BIEN LE MAL!!! NO FREAKING WAYS>.. this sums up Editorista’s YOUF when she did finish her schooling…!!!!)
Blk Jks
with Freshlyground’s Zolani Mahola and saxophonist Buddy Wells

Other performers we’re excited about:

Marcus Wyatt Language 12 (Editorista’s wedding band!!!) ,Jason Moran, Ronny Jordan Organ Trio, and of course Lira

Author: admin

Share This Post On