The Makhanda hills are alive to the sound of music this weekend as the Standard Bank Jazz Festival proudly comes to town.

The 32nd edition of this celebrated festival features a host of not-to-be-missed shows including a number of spectacular big band performances; the first outing by Mandla Mlangeni as the 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz; a performance by two top cosmopolitan Shanghai musicians and the contemporary sounds of Mabuta.

On Friday (DSG Hall at 20h30), Marcus Wyatt’s 17-piece ZAR Orchestra who will be bringing their genre-defying, SAMA-award-winning take on jazz music’s Big Band sound to audiences. The line-up is a veritable Who’s Who of South African musicians and includes Wyatt along with Justin Bellairs, Mthunzi Mvubu, Sisonke Xonti, Marc de Kock, Janus van der Merwe, Adam Howard, Sydney Mavundla, Neil Engel, Andreas Tschopp (Switzerland), Justin Sasman, Kelly Bell, Alex Hitzeroth, Michael Bester, Bokani Dyer, Romy Brauteseth and Marlon Witbooi.

Mandla Mlangeni’s first taste of Standard Bank jazz came in 2005 during the National Arts Festival when he played in the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band. Now the acclaimed trumpeter is the 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz. His first SBYA gig harnesses powerful musicians of his generation – Mark Fransman (sax), Afrika Mkhize (piano), Reza Khota (guitar), Nicholas Williams (bass) and Clement Benny (drums) – to give life to his fascinating musical ideas. You can catch them at the DSG Hall on Friday at 17h00.

Also on stage that day is Shanghai jazz vocalist Coco Zhau in performance with our own Asanda Mqiki (DSG Hall at 12h00). Zhau sees both his music and identity as a way to bridge East and West. They will be accompanied by pianist Huang Juanji – the first Master’s graduate in jazz from the Shanghai Conservatory and one of the most cosmopolitan jazz musicians presently based in that city.
There are more big band sounds on Saturday and Sunday (DSG Hall at 20h30) with the massive Funk Big Band of Nils Landgren featuring top South African and European musicians, led by the Swedish jazz legend. The line-up includes Dan Shout, Justin Bellairs, Marc de Kock, Sisonke Xonti, Shannon Mowday, Fredrik Noren, Marcus Wyatt, Sakhile Simani, Sydney Mavundla, Andreas Tschopp (Swiss), Kyle du Preez, Murray Buitendag, Kelly Bell, Michael Bester, Bokani Dyer, Shaun Johannes and Kevin Gibson.

Bandleader Shane Cooper’s new project Mabuta (DSG Hall, Sunday at 17h00) is a blend of his two long-time musical passions of jazz and electronic music. Mabuta, harnessing some of the strongest young voices in our country at the moment, is undoubtedly one of the freshest and most innovative sounds featured in the South African contemporary jazz scene today and features Cooper (bass), Sisonke Xonti (sax), Robin Fassie-Kock (trumpet), Reza Khota (guitar), Bokani Dyer (piano) and Marlon Witbooi (drums).

Other highlights this weekend include Too Many Zooz, named by the New York Post as “the hottest thing in NYC music” (DSG Hall on Saturday at 23h00) and New York drummer Jeff Siegel’s with his Sextet. (DSG Hall, Sunday at 12h00).

Standard Bank customers qualify for a discount of 20% when using a valid Standard Bank debit, cheque or credit card. The discount is applicable to purchases online or at the box office. The offer is limited to six tickets per person. Terms and conditions apply.

Tickets are available at www.nationalartsfestival.co.za