Jazzaholic by Don Albert: Monde Ngonyama of the Port Elizabeth Opera House feels PE has been ignored on the South African jazz circuit.
Both Cape Town and Johannesburg have their own jazz festivals, then there’s also Grahamstown, so he set about organizing the first Mandela Bay Jazz Legacy Festival.
The event was over two nights which opened with two pop/ African soul vocalists one after the other, they had the audience in the palm of their hands singing and ululating. While they were good, it wasn’t jazz and I was getting a little edgy. Then along came Lex Futshane and McCoy Mrubata, plus a young pianist and drummer, they played one of the best soul-searching sets I have heard in a long time. Lex’s full round bass notes set the pace for sax man McCoy to soar. I was gobsmacked.
Night two opened with pianist/composer John Edwards who was enthusiastic about his own compositions and playing, yet nothing really swung. The set was too long, and everything started sounding the same. Nobody seemed to be having a good time except the bass player. I look forward to hearing him again when maybe he’ll be more relaxed.
After the intermission the heavyweights (Andile Yenana, Marcus Wyatt, Ayanda Skade and Sisonke Xonti plus others) hit the stage to play some really good jazz in an African cum Blue Note style.
I must say that the acoustics were very good.
Monde dipped his toe in the water, and now I look forward to Mandela Bay Jazz Legacy Festival in 2018.
As an aside I stayed at the King George’s Guesthouse. There’s no frills but everything was spotless, there’s nothing too much for the staff and the breakfast had everything from juices to fruit to bacon and eggs. Thanks Ivan for looking after me with my 5pm double scotch.
Don Albert is an ex-saxophonist and jazz journalist. He spent 12 years with The Star Newspaper on the Tonight! section writing about jazz. He has presented radio programmes on jazz and was the presenter of the TV series Jazz Studio. He has served on the panel for judges at prestigious competitions. He has also won numerous awards, the latest being A Judges Commendation in the 2013 National Arts Festival Arts Journalist of the Year Awards. Presented by Business and Arts South Africa. It read: For outstanding work as an arts journalist over a sustained period, and for his invaluable contribution to the Jazz Industry through incisive, knowledgeable and passionate reporting.
Article source: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=43102