Around Easter time, Cape Town has a certain air about it. It has nothing to do with Easter egg hunts, bunnies or anything of the sort. Birds seem to chirp, the wind whistles in tune, even the midday cannon ball seems to boom louder. Amidst all this, guitars are tuned, drums are propped up and pianos are reeled in, all in aid of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF).
Gosh, you have to be in this city to feel the energy that the CTIJF carries with it (among the international artists that we all look forward to rubbing shoulders with). From the free concert that took place on Wednesday, April 1 – rather than the usual Thursday evenings – the line up was so exciting this year. They went all out for their 10th birthday to bring us a show to remember (and I most certainly do).
CTIJF brought us the likes of Zap mama, Pete Philly & Perquisite, Mos Def, Diane Reeves, Freshlyground, Hugh Masekela, Incognito, The Robert Glasper Experiment, Zaki Ibrahim, 340ml, Maceo Parker – to name but a few. Now obviously I’d need to multiply myself to catch every artist or band but since that’s not humanly possible, I can only tell you about what I did manage to catch.
On Friday, April 3 I got to see Pete Philly & Perquisite, safely my favourite dutch hip hop duo. This was their second performance at the CTIJF – and I got to see both. I remember falling in love with this band some 3 or 4 years ago. Their sound is so fresh and they are simply perfect together. The flow of Pete Philly’s voice dances on the beat in a way that radiates through your body. And this year, they weren’t any different.
I listened to some Goldfish with their ever faithful Cape Tonian sound that never disappoints. But – and this is not to discredit any other artist – the highlight (possibly of the whole festival) was Zap Mama. The leading woman is absolutely beautiful with a voice that I could’ve grown up to and at the same time something my kids will grow up to – it’s timeless, soulful and elevating. Not only can she beat box with the best of them but she completely took us by surprise when she performed a Miriam Makeba song…in Zulu. It was magnificent.
On Saturday I started the day early with usisi Abigail Kubheka. She was nostalgic as ever performing classics that I remember hearing when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Zaki Ibrahim started right in the middle of usisi Abigail so I rushed over to catch some of her show. I caught about 15 minutes of it and wasn’t impressed much so I headed to the Bassline to see 340ml. well what can I say, they had me at “Friday night and I’m all alone”. I’m loving their new stuff as well even though it took them so long to release it. I must say they have got to be one of my favourite South African bands.
At this point the night air was anxious for the sound of Mos Def, but it was not yet time. So I caught Rus Nerwixh and the Collective Imagination. It was quite a good performance and they most certainly are imaginative featuring the Xhosa rapping female MC, Kanyi Mavi. And then the moment we’d all been waiting for, Mos Def accompanied by The Robert Glasper Experiment. The man is talented, no doubt about it. He has an admirable rap flow and just about the most majestic voice I’ve ever heard. His performance wasn’t quite what we had anticipated though. He took the jazz brief a little too seriously and neglected to give us what we were there to see.
The Cape Town International Jazz Festival was over before I knew it and having had the time of my life, I wanted to go back in time and experience it all again. Next year could not come soon enough…