Joy of Jazz lights up Sandton
Written by: Tamara Arden
The mood of Jazz is present. It airs out Sandton CBD and streams across the buildings. The new venue houses some of the best local and international acts Jazz has to offer, and aims to attract avid music lovers to its premises. Sandton Convention Centre opens its spaces to its fans. Exclusivity will not be graded here; people come from all walks of life to enjoy the smooth, experimental and progressive sounds that Jazz brings.
Christian Scott embraces the audience as he walks onto the Conga stage with his sextet. The band features aTunde Adjuah on trumpet, reverse flugel and sirenette; Braxton Cook on straight alto; Lawrence Fields on piano and keys; Cliff Hines on guitar; Kris Funn on bass; Corey Fonville on drums and Isadora Mendez Scott on vocals.
Adapting an electronic Radiohead song to a full formed jazz piece, he has our attention. Echoing intricate trumpet reverberations while his band circles around him with manic compositions, the tone is set for this year’s Joy of Jazz. On his third track of the evening, his wife Isadora joined the collective with her voice playing around the ambience. As the set continued, the hall filled up with more listeners. Many people settled into their seats, while others left for the next act.
Before we make our way to the Herbie Tsoaeli Quartet, we catch the last 15 minutes of Carlo Mombeli and his quartet and watch them experiment with bold & intricate sounds at the Diphala Stage. Kyle Shepherd joins Carlo on stage. He is the Standard Bank Young Artists for Jazz for 2014, and whirls his way around the keys with precision and finesse. He is regarded as one of the most influential and accomplished jazz musicians in South Africa.
Crowds tried to find their way to the Dinaledi stage without making too many turns. The Convention Centre seemed to have quite a complicated way of getting to each stage, not allowing people through certain access points, and instead going up the escalators to take the lift down to a different entrance. As confusing and frustrating as it was, we made our way to the deep electronic and acoustic bass player. Herbie Tsoaeli reels us in with progressive bass chords. Fast paced with a consistent tempo, his pieces share a story full of high spirit and adventure.
Omar Sosa is the highlight of the evening. He is alive on stage, with an enthusiastic energy, with dual focus on a piano and keyboard, while he stands and boosts his performance. He introduces us to his Cuban roots with renditions of Latin Jazz, showcasing haunting vocal tones and melodic piano tones. The band comes together combining elements reminiscent of a sub-Kalahari journey to the end of the desert. His intricacies belong to the stage. We are in awe of its demonstration. Humming, hollowing out its tune, with the clanking of traditional instruments- shaking around their voices and trumpet, the sensation is surreal. The audience is moving along with their rhythm, dancing in its glory, eyes wide open, fascinated by the details of its tones. I am taken by the movement of their composition. Their worldly arrangement is real, picking and tuning in with an unusual element of jazz we are drawn to. As it comes to an end, we plead for more. When they finally leave the stage, we are left with the remnants of a strong set, knowing we have been exposed to true magic.
Wanting to leave the night on a high note, we glance by the other stages and bid them adieu, leaving satisfied and overjoyed with the amount of talent playing in one space.