All that jazz: A great year for jazz

2011 was truly a great year for jazz with unprecedented activity on the scene.

Upon reflection, there were a number of notable events, concerts, festivals and album releases.

In February, Jazz Under the Stars, a new concept created by new players on the scene, brought South African sensation Lira to perform in Zimbabwe for the first time.

According to reports, Lira gave a memorable performance that delighted the audience.

Harare Jazz Festival presented its third edition in April in a two-day festival that featured the inaugural Jazz Lifetime Achievement Awards.

The Cool Crooners, Dorothy Masuka and Lina Mattaka were honoured at a high- profile gala dinner that was also the opening ceremony of the festival.

At the main event, the festival presented some exciting performances from Kunle Ayo, Tanga wekwa Sando, Oliver Mtukudzi, Dudu Manhenga, Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana and Amanda e la Banda from Italy.

The Winter Jazz Festival commemorated its 10th anniversary with a colourful opening ceremony and great performances from local artists.

The festival continues to grow, support local artists and take the genre to a wider audience.

Jazz 105 also launched a new festival, Women in Jazz, which seeks to promote female artists.

The festival also saw gospel star Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave performing at a jazz venue for the first time ever.

The October International Jazz Festival, organised by the Italian Embassy in Harare, set a new standard for jazz festivals in Zimbabwe.

The week-long festival had a developmental aspect with music training workshops targeted at children.

These workshops were held at Zimbabwe College of Music, Celebration Centre, Streets Ahead and Pakare Paye.

The festival also brought out some fantastic performances and collaborations from participating artists including Mtukudzi, Ayo, Amanda e la Banda, Jazz Invitation, Raffaele Casarano and the Tinissima Quartet from Italy.

The Soweto String Quartet also performed in a garden setting in Harare alongside popular local artists.

This was also an new initiative from promoters venturing into jazz for the first time.

All these major events were a great achievement by the jazz fraternity and society as a whole. Most importantly, the corporate sector is increasingly realising and appreciating the value of jazz to their brands.

It is very encouraging and gratifying that prominent brands and organisations including Lion Lager, Coke Zero, Pacific Storm, European Union, Ethiopian Airways, FBC Bank, Peroni, Telecel, Fiat, Rainbow Tourism Group, Progressive Insurance Brokers and Sontine Travel supported jazz in one way or another.

We hope for continued support to ensure that the popularity of the genre keeps growing.

The year also saw growth in the body of music with new releases from Tanga wekwa Sando (Sunrise), Too Open (Still Alive), Manhenga (Ngangiwe), Munya Matarutse (Dengu Remhodzi), Jazz Invitation (Tsoka) and Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana (Prudence).

Manhenga also went on her maiden tour of Italy where she flew the Zimbabwean flag high, thrilling audiences wherever she performed.

As we look forward to a new year, we hope stakeholders build on these successes to ensure greater value for society.

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