The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown is celebrating two decades of an incredible jazz festival that for 10 days every year turns Grahamstown into “Jazztown” during the National Arts Festival. Its 20th anniversary edition from 29 June to 8 July this year features over 100 musicians from 12 countries across a diverse range of styles and collaborations.
Included in the line-up are one of the world’s premier multi instrumentalists, the Australian James Morrison Quintet, along with Estafest from the Netherlands, Andy Narrel (US), Judith Sephuma, The Soil, Zinzi Makeba Lee and Africa Mkhize, Yaron Herman & Ziv Ravitz, Jimmy Nevis, Marcus Wyatt’s Bomb Shelter Beast, Shane Cooper, Kyle Shepherd, Thandi Ntuli, Desmond and The Tutus and many others.
Recognised as a catalyst for South African Jazz, this year’s festival showcases artists that have made their name at the festival over the past 20 years whilst also giving a platform to exciting new young players – amongst them sensational Brazilian bassist Michael Pipoquinha, who at the age of 21 is receiving critical acclaim worldwide.
Arguably the musicians’ favourite festival, the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown is known for its ambitious collaborations across styles, continents and generations and manages to attract serious musicians year after year to a small magical corner of South Africa.
For 10 days, the DSG campus – “Jazztown” – and the Monument are jam-packed with performances which continue long after the lights have gone down, where the performances move to the Standard Bank Jazz Café in downtown Grahamstown where the musicians hang out for some serious spontaneous improvisation.
The festival is probably South Africa’s best-kept jazz secret and the launch pad for South Africa’s next generation of jazz stars. It is here that the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz makes their big debut performance. This year’s winner, bassist Benjamin Jephta, will be following in the footsteps of successful alumni that include Gloria Bosman, Victor Ntoni, Sibongile Khumalo, Siya Makuzeni, Kesivan Naidoo, Melanie Scholtz, Kyle Shepherd, Bokani Dyer and many more.
“If you’re serious about music and jazz, and want an experience that will live with you for a lifetime then put it on your bucket list and come to Jazztown this year,” says Hazel Chimhandamba, Head: Group Sponsorships for Standard Bank who have supported the festival for 20 years.