12 August 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Joy of Jazz 2011

Invariably, there is too much to choose from at the annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival in the Newtown Cultural Precint. The 2011 event is no exception. That’s why I can’t decide if the fact that tickets for the Dinaledi Stage for Saturday August 27 (as well as the inclusive day passes for the same day) have already been sold-out is a good or a bad thing. Less choice, but it means I would miss, among others, the legendary Wynton Marsalis (winner of nine Grammy Awards and the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music).

Luckily I can catch him at his performance at Emperor’s Palace on August 25, when he opens the festival.  Marsalis will be accompanied by Jonathan Batiste (piano), Walter Blanding (reeds), Carlos Henriques (bass) and Ali Jackson (drums). I cannot wait - I loved last year’s event. Tickets are selling fast though, so don’t wait to book - you don’t often get second chances to see artists that you’ve missed!

And Marsalis just sets the tone for the rest this event. Newtown will also be hosting Grammy winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and pianist McCoy Tyner; South African superstars Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo;  contemporary jazz maestro Jeff Lorber; fusion great Gerald Veasley and Brazil’s Tania Maria. There will also be performers from the African continent include Angola’s Bonga, Nigeria’s Olufemi and one of my perrenial favorites, Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukui. Big band sounds will be provided by Belgium’s Brussels Jazz Orchestra with Tutu Puoane, who won the Standard Bank Young Artists Award for Jazz in 2010.

There are (at the time of writing this) still tickets available for the other Newtown stages on August 27. They are the Mbira Stage, with Julius Schultz, Simphiwe Dana (always stunning), Frank McComb, Jeff Lorber and Alexander O’Neal, the Conga Stage with Olufemi, Mango Groove, Oliver Mtukudzi, Tania Maria and Bonga and Bassline, with Bokani Dyer (winner of the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artists Awards for Jazz), Victor Ntoni, Dee Dee Bridgewater, McCoy Mrubatha and Gerald Veasley.

The popular day passes which cost R650 are still available for Friday, August 26 and allow you to move between performances at the Dinaledi Stage, the Conga and the Mbira Stage. And don’t forget the 16 free concerts on the line-up - check the Joy of Jazz website for details.

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