The annual Winter Jazz Festival’s 11th edition roars into life tonight with a fireworks-promising gig at Jazz 105.
The three-day event kick- starts with the launch party that will feature an intriguing line-up of jazz outfits that include Jazz Invitation, Mbare Trio and Summer Breeze while urban grooves musician Diana Samukange will be guest artist.
Festival organiser Josh Hozheri said this year’s edition, which does not have any foreign acts, will be a way of celebrating local jazz music.
Musicians from other genres have also been invited to the event as a way of spreading the festival beyond jazz circles.
“We are celebrating our jazz music and this will be an edition with a difference. Since we celebrated our 10th anniversary last year, we felt that our previous editions have given our artists all it takes to go it alone,” said Hozheri.
“All jazz musicians performing have promised to do their best while those that we have roped in from other genres have shown much interest in rallying behind their contemporaries in this important festival.”
The festival will be held in various venues around the capital.
The major highlight of the festival will be a commercial gig set for Friday, which is slated for City Sports Centre, an unusual venue for jazz music.
This is certainly not the only revelation which jazz lovers should expect, what more with local dancehall artist Winky D featuring as the biggest surprise on the day performing live with his band and brushing shoulders with jazz stars including legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi and his protégé Munya Mataruse.
Sulumani Chimbetu — also riding high with his dendera music which was popularised by his late father Simon — will also be another non-jazz artist to feature at this year’s festival.
He is also among the outfits that have been given the privilege of performing twice at this festival during the commercial gig and the closing ceremony slated for Ochi City.
Winky D and Chimbetu will arguably add flair to the festival with their two strikingly different genres which have in recent years gained popularity and appreciation in musical circles.
After almost three years of absence from active showbiz, Picky Kasamba will return to the stage at this festival on Saturday at Jazz 105 performing alongside youthful jazz outfit Too Open.
Clare and The Other Four, Selmor and Tendai Manatsa, The Cool Crooners, Victor Kunonga, Jeyz Marabini together with the Prince Edward Band will also be part of the exciting line-up of artists set to perform on this day.
The closing ceremony will witness two venues hosting several artists as a special wrap-up to the festival. Summer Breeze and Jabavu Drive will host Chimbetu at Ochi City while Dino Mudondo and Jah Prayzah perform at Jazz 105.
This year’s edition of the festival will be running under the theme “Celebrating our own Jazz”.
Responding to claims that the jazz festival had left out jazz artists in favour of other genres, Hozheri said each year he gives different jazz artists a chance to perform.
“As you know, there are so many jazz artists in the country and there is no way the festival can accommodate everyone. Over the years, artists have rotated in different editions and very few will tell you that they never performed at the festival.
“The idea of bringing other genres is a way of taking jazz music to the people. Indeed jazz is for a mature audience, but I feel we also have to market the genre to the youths lest its audience dwindles with time.
“We want jazz to live forever and we all know that the future lies in the youths, so we have to introduce them to the genre so that they begin appreciating it. The only way to do so is to juxtapose jazz artists with those non-jazz musicians that appeal to a wider audience.
“As a promoter, I think in the past we have been focusing more on bringing international artists to grace our events, but the idea is to expose our own local artists and give them the platform to showcase their talent,” said Hozheri.