Renowned drummer Paco Sery from Ivory Coast and noted keyboardist and vocalist Cheick Tidiane Seck from Mali will headline the upcoming International Jazz Day concert to be held on 1st May at the Carnivore Grounds, in Nairobi.
They will be joined on stage by Mandla Mlangeni and The Tune Creation Committee from South Africa and Kenyan acts Nairobi Horns Project, Shamsi Music, Kato Change and the Change Experience, Jacob and Kavutha Asiyo, and the Ghetto Classics. This year we celebrate the best of African Jazz with a global touch.
“Over the years, Safaricom International Jazz Festival has been headlined by a stellar line-up of African musicians including: Salif Keita and Fatoumata Diawara from Mali, Jimmy Dludlu and the late Hugh Masekela from South Africa, Kunle Ayo from Nigeria and New-York based Cameroonian artiste Richard Bona. The Festival has become more than a music concert; it is also a platform through which Kenyan jazz artists can reach a wider audience, connect and exchange ideas with their contemporaries,” said Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO and Safaricom International Jazz Festival Founder.
International Jazz Day, themed “Celebrating African Jazz”, is celebrated around the globe each year in appreciation of the genre, and to highlight and appreciate the role of jazz in uniting people from all over the world. Last year’s celebrations were marked with a live music extravaganza featuring Manu Dibango and the Soul Makossa Gang (Cameroon), who shared the stage with some of Kenya’s top jazz artists including Edward Parseen, Afro Sync Band, James Gogo, Shamsi Music, Eddie Grey and Chris Bittok.
“It’s great to see more Kenyans appreciating homegrown jazz talent, and we are honoured to be part of the growth of the local jazz scene. Nairobi Horns Project released their debut album Black in Gold in February, Shamsi Music have performed in Festival Jazzy Koum Ben in Bamako, Mali and the number of young musicians enrolled in the Ghetto Classics music programme has grown from about 300 when we started supporting them in 2014, to about 1,500,” said Collymore.
This year’s headline act, Sery, began his career in 1980 when respected French organist Eddy Loiuss sent out a call for artistes for a record he was making. He successfully played on the record and has been active as a musician ever since. He got a break in his career when Austrian-American synthesizer virtuoso Joe Zawinul took him under his wing.
Fellow performer Seck is a Malian composer who has written for and played with world-famous African musicians such as Fela Kuti, Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and American jazz maestros Dee Dee Bridgewater and the late Hank Jones.
Safaricom International Jazz Festival is honoured to partner with a project known as the Jazz Sister Cities. This organisation promotes Jazz as a tool for building cultural bridges globally through engagement and collaboration with cities, programs, and artists. Nairobi, through the festival will officially join the Jazz Sister Cities Network on this day and will present Sylwester Ostrowski & The Jazz Brigade ft. Dorota Miskiewicz – Freddie Hendrix to perform at the International Jazz Day Celebrations.
All proceeds from ticket sales will go towards supporting the Ghetto Classics music programme, which has received approximately Ksh 60 million since the inception of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival in 2014. These funds cater for music training, schooling and basic needs for members of the programme, most of whom are at-risk pre-teens and teenagers from low income neighbourhoods in Nairobi and Mombasa.
The programme plans to expand to Kisumu this year, where it aims to transform the lives of more youth through music.