You don’t know what you missed out on. That’s the only way to describe this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival to anyone who wasn’t there. Now in it’s 17th year, the festival still brings music lovers from different genres to the Cape Town International Convention Centre. This year was no different. Veterans like Dorothy Masuka, Tshepo Tshola, Angie Stone were joined by cutting edge young artists like Christian Tiger School, Mick Jenkins, Thandi Ntuli, Nduduzo Makhathini, making it hard to choose from the five stages of the festival.
Christian Tiger School
“Seeing Christian Tiger School with a drummer on stage made me skeptical. I feel like live drums always take away the grit from electronic music. But the duo knew what they were doing. The keys, pads and synthesizers gelled well with the drums and their sound was still as warm and ambient. Most of the songs they performed – “Chorisolo”, “Damn January”, “Mikro Brothers” and more – were from their album Chrome Tapes. During their performance I was catching up with a friend. I don’t remember a single word she said; I was in some form of a trance.” – Sabelo MKhabela
Muzart and Khuli Chana
“The Bassline stage was at its fullest for Muzart and Khuli Chana. Muzart performed a lot of covers from TKZee, Brenda Fassie, Tshepo Tsola and more, which worked and saved what was otherwise a lacklustre set. By the time Khuli Chana joined them on stage, the crowd was at their most ratchet. And the motswako rapper, with his addictive hooks and frantic stage antics, made sure they stayed that way. He drew from his rich discography of hits like “Freshe”, “No More Hunger”, “Tswa Daar”, “Hape Le Hape” and more.” – Sabelo Mkhabela
The Beat Bangaz
“Three amateur deejays playing together at once would probably be disastrous. But three pros, which is what the The Beat Bangaz consists of, will give you an expertly tailored diverse mix of genres ranging from reggae to kwaito to hip-hop to pop. Using MPDs and and turntables, DJ Ready D, DJ Azhul and DJ E20 played live remixes and songs by the likes of Reason, TKZee, Brenda Fassie, Bob Marley, Mano and more. Easily one of my favourite performances of the whole festival.” – Sabelo Mkhabela
“What’s there to say about Mafikizolo that hasn’t already been said? They’ve sold hundreds of thousands of albums, won more awards than they know what to do with, and are probably one of the biggest artists in the country (if not the continent). So it came as no surprise that they delivered one of the standout performances of the festival. Dressed in 60s Sophiatown chic, the duo wowed the crowd with their classic songs like “Ndihamba Nawe”, “Udakwa Njalo” and “Kwela Kwela”. Easily one of the best performances of the night.” – Rofhiwa Maneta
“Despite what their name might suggest, Canadian band BadBadNotGood are anything but terrible. The four piece outfit – known for their distinctive blend of free-jazz, hip-hop and electronica – were one of the few acts that managed to arrest the attention of both the young and old audience members. Plus, they had a bag of surprises throughout their set. First, they had social commentator and artist, Ferrari Sheppard paint live during their set, and toward the end of their set they brought out Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) to round off their performance.” – Rofhiwa Maneta
“Chicago-based rapper Mick Jenkins’ performance wasn’t perfect but it was just a few degrees short of it. The Bassline stage’s sound let him down, but other than that, Mick absolutely killed his performance. He wowed the crowd with material from his breakout mixtape, The Water[s] (a soulful mix of jazz and raw, sample-heavy boom-bap) and also dipped further back into his discography (performing material from his sophomore mixtape Trees and Truth). Check the video below for the end of his performance.” – Rofhiwa Maneta
Other great performances came from Nduduzo Makhathini, Thandi Ntuli, Legendary Ladies in Song (Dorothy Masuka, Abigail Kubeka ft. Lenny “Special” Mabaso), Tumi Mogorosi and Project Elo, Tribute “Birdie” Mboweni, Nathi and more.
Were you at the Jazz Fest? What performances stood out for you? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.