Harare Jazz Festival lives up to billing

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An exquisite ambiance characterised this year’s edition of the Harare Jazz Festival where local and international artists serenaded audiences in a memorable event at Rainbow Towers Gardens on Saturday night.

As early as 7pm, the venue was a hive of activity and parking space proved golden and some motorists risked parking their cars in the dark outside the venue for a $5 fee.

Banners of various sponsors of the festival lined up the way to the entrance, a sign that the festival was well-supported and organised.

The design of the stage was unique, with glittering lights and a soothing, jazz touch.

Testimony to this were the chairs and tables filling up the venue, an indication of a mature audience and a set-up typical of a jazz venue.

The festival began with a performance by Claire Nyakujara, lead vocalist of the famous outfit, The Other Four.

She gave the best of opening performances and pleased the audience with some of the songs from her album such as Gwenyambira, Mumba and Mwanasikana.

Patience Musa, one of the talented local jazz divas, also put up a sterling performance playing alongside her newly-found love and outfit Jazz Invitation.

The festival wouldn’t have been better without the presence of one of the forces to reckon within jazz circles in Zimbabwe, Tanga Wekwa Sando, who thrilled the audience with some of his hit tracks including Wake.

He had the crowd singing along to his songs, and the performance was enhanced by the gentle jazz swaying by his dance queens and enhanced by John “Chibhodhoro” Muyambo’s percussion skills.

Dudu Manhenga and sungura star Sulumani gave a joint performance which delighted fans and one of popular songs from their act was Chimbetu’s Kwedu, originally featuring Oliver Mtukudzi.

Like they say “age is nothing but a number”. At 75 Dorothy Masuka is still going strong and she amazed the audiences with her performance.

She reminded the people of the long journey that she has travelled on the music scene and did popular tracks such as Muroyi Ndiwe, Nhingirikini, and Malaika.

All the way from Italy to stage a performance for the first time in Africa and Zimbabwe was the funky blues outfit Amanda e la Banda.

The outfit rocked the festival and gave the audience a feel of their funky blues and some of the songs from their debut album The First and Last, including a track titled Respect, a dedication to the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

The group also called on stage the likes of Patience Musa, Kunle Ayo from Nigeria and Josh Meck who showed why he is rated among the best bass guitarists in jazz.

Kunle also took to the stage and perfomed alone before he called on legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi who rounded up the show with a great performance.

Tuku wound up the festival and sent fans singing along to his hit tracks Tozeza Baba, Wadadisa and Naniko, proving that he was the main act of the festival.