Preview: Joy of Jazz, South Africa

Jazz Journal's South Africa correspondent Don Albert previews the jazz festival that has grown from local to international stature and this year includes the UK's Matthew Halsall  

The first Standard Bank Joy of Jazz concert took place at the Pretoria State Theatre 18 years ago and was the brainchild of Peter Tladi. For the first few years it featured only South African artists.

Then the jazzfest moved to Newtown in Johannesburg and overseas musicians such as Lee Ritenour, Bob Baldwin, Marion Meadows and Annie Whitehead were introduced.

Eventually the flood gates opened and Ravi Coltrane, Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis, Anat Cohen, Fourplay, Ingrid Jensen, Sadao Watanabe, Tord Gustavsen, Monty Alexander, Ramsey Lewis, Terence Blanchard, Eddie Daniels, Wynton Marsalis, the ghost bands of Count Basie and Duke Ellington and vocalists from Dee Dee Bridgewater to Stacey Kent and Nnenna Freelon, Renee Marie and Dianne Reeves to Kurt Elling and Gregory Porter have all appeared with their own groups. These are just a few of the names we've seen here.

Of course, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jonas Gwangwa, Hugh Masekela and many more African artists have filled the mix: One of the strong points of Joy of Jazz is it not only offers some of the greatest jazz musicians from around the world, but also top artists from South Africa and the rest of the African continent.

For nearly two decades the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival has been at the apex of international jazz entertainment on the Mother Continent. As the most prestigious arena for live musical excellence and a landmark occasion for musicians to display their performance skills, Joy of Jazz has hosted most of the world’s exceptionally gifted jazz practitioners, covering styles from swing to bebop and Afro-jazz to the avant-garde.
This year’s JoJ will take place in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa from 24-26 September. Over the three days musicians from the USA, UK, Italy, India, Cuba and Africa will perform on four stages.
The line-up includes such recently critically acclaimed artists as Cecile McLorin Salvant, Marcus Miller, The 3 Cohens (Anat, Avishai and Yuval), Larry Carlton, The Yellowjackets, William Parker, Dwight Trible, Matthew Halsall (pictured above right by Brian Payne), Dee Alexander, Lee Oscar, Kirk Whalum, Estelle Kokot with Chico Freeman as well as a trio made up of Paulo Fresu, Trilok Gurtu and Omar Sosa.
There will be a plethora of African artists including Hugh Masekela (pictured left) and Oliver Mtukudzi with Shai-Shai Mbira Ensemble and a very special group put together for the Joy of Jazz and featuring South Africa’s recent Grammy Award winner, flautist Wouter Kellerman.

This year has also brought a renewed commitment from the festival's main patron, Standard Bank. As the flagship partner, the bank has endorsed the importance of this international cultural event by signing a three-year sponsorship deal, ensuring that jazz lovers can look forward to a continued world-class festival. Hazel Chimhandamba, Head of Group Sponsorships at Standard Bank said: “We are excited to extend our 16-year association with the Standard Bank Joy Of Jazz festival for a further three years until 2017; and to continue to forge a close relationship with such an exciting and progressive genre of music – jazz.”
For more information on the festival go to or email festival producer Mantwa Chinoamadi:

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