The Winter Jazz Festival has come and gone and indeed it was a spectacular four-day event that saw Zimbabwe’s finest jazz musicians showcasing their talent at three different venues in the capital.
No doubt the main event was the one featuring Oliver Mtukudzi, Sulumani Chimbetu, Winky D and young Munya Mataruse at the City Sports Centre. But, was the inclusion of Winky D and Sulu a case of luring crowds to the venue? Of course, Winky D and Sulumani are crowd-pullers for real but in this category they did not fit.
The genre played by the two is nowhere near jazz music and you wonder at their inclusion in this premier event. Events like the jazz festival are meant for those artists who play the genre and it is a time they celebrate the goodness of the melodies of jazz.
The festival was supposed to be purely a jazz session, for those who love jazz music, but it was reduced to a sungura, urban grooves and ragga affair that failed to live up to its name.
Some jazz musicians were crying foul at their exclusion from the festival and they queried the inclusion of Winky D and Sulu in the festival’s programme.
Indeed their arguments were genuine and organisers of such programmes should surely take into consideration the arguments raised by these musicians.
Are our music promoters only worried more about fattening their pockets rather than the growth of the industry?
Names like Raiders, Pablo and Friends, Philbert Marowa, Amagents, Tanga Wekwa Sando, Josh Meck, Kudzai Sevenzo, Faith Mandipira, Willis Wattafi, J Masters Band, Tina Watyoka to mention but a few, are some of the jazz musicians that could have been given a chance to showcase their works.
It is indeed their time as artists who play that genre of music. By having Oliver Mtukudzi playing at the event it was obvious that there would be a huge a huge attendance and it would have been a chance for some of these upcoming jazz musicians to expose themselves.
Most of them are only used to play in small venues like the Book Café and The Mannenberg. So music promoters should not only be worried about making profits at the end of day, but it is also about appreciating music as an art and promoting the young musicians so that their careers grow.
Promoters should take a cue from the late James “Jimmy Jimalo” Chiyangwa who dedicated his time and resources to uplifting musicians. Jimalo was indeed a man who contributed immensely to the development of our music industry and his death was a huge loss to the industry.
His involvement in music was not for money, but for the love of music as an art and he knew that musicians should be supported financially and socially as we saw him at various occasions assisting musicians in various ways.
The legacy left by Jimalo should be a lesson to music promoters that music is not only about making profits but that music and musicians should be supported even in their times of need.