The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown 2013 incorporates a variety of disciplines into its programme. The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival is one of the highlights at the festival this year, though it is just one part of the formidable line-up which includes Mainstream, Blues/Funk/World Music, Afro Jazz, Modern Jazz, and the Standard Bank Jazz and Blues Café.
Running alongside the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, the National Youth Jazz Festival (NJYF) is intended as a national meeting point for South African musicians, jazz teachers and students, and is an excellent opportunity for networking and seeing what is happening in the jazz world, locally and internationally. It will run from 26 June to 2 July at DSG in Grahamstown, and is open to musicians and jazz educators.
On the first day of the NYJF students from around the country will audition all day in the hopes of getting into one of the two national bands – youth or schools. The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band presents a selection of the top young jazz musicians in the country between the ages of 19 and 25 years. This year the band is under the musical direction of South African jazz legend, trumpeter Marcus Wyatt.
The Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band consists of the top young jazz musicians in the country up to the age of 18 years. Under the musical direction of Ian Darrington, Director of the Wigan International Jazz Festival and recipient of an MBE for his role in developing British Youth Jazz, the band performs material worked on over the five days of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival.
School and university jazz choirs and vocal soloists from around the country are directed by top professional vocalists Paulien van Schaik from the Netherlands, and American Justin Binek.
Programmes of School/Youth Bands allow exuberant young players to hone their craft on the Grahamstown stages; featuring Somerset College from Somerset West, South Peninsula High School (Cape Town), and Future2Future from Tshwane University of Technology. George Werner’s Cape Flats development band, the Little Giants, have made a serious name for themselves over the past decade with their performances and recordings and also perform under this banner; as do Rustenburg (Cape Town); and special guests from Sweden, the Henning Ullén kvintett, winners of the Swedish Jazz Federation Youth Competition 2012.
Big Band jazz is thriving in high schools around the country, as seen with these three standard school Big Bands from different corners of South Africa: St. Mary’s (Johannesburg), Rondebosch (Cape Town) and Stirling (East London). Two potent Big Bands from Alexander Road (Port Elizabeth), and Stellenbosch University are also showcased.
This year will also see the establishment of the Standard Bank Jazz Blues Café at the Lowlander, St. Andrew’s College, which will end each night with a great jazz show and a late night jazz jam session or blues gig – a place where audiences can catch musicians letting off steam and butting musical heads late into the night, featuring the likes of Nduduzo Makhathini, saxophonist Dan Shout, Lee Thomson, Imbaula, and the Rick van Heerden Quartet.
The 39th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place from 27 June to 7 July 2013.
Author: Fiona Gordon