20 October 2010 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

The early morning blues

Yes, it was dark when I woke up. Yes it was cold. And yes I had to leave Pretoria at 5am to get to Jozi in time. But as I walked into the Rosebank Crown Plaza I could already a) smell the coffee and b) hear the sweet sound of music helping me on my way. If the musicians were coping, I would too.

Although Jazz is a notoriously late starter, everyone was there, being made up and warming up for when the cameras would begin to role. Watching a live TV show being put together is interesting in itself - but even more interesting was to see the likes of Auriol Hays, Anat Cohen, Fourplay, Oumou Sangare, Sadao Watanabe and Stacey Kent performing for the small, privileged crowd of journalists and TV crew, with a few curious guests from the hotel. They are just so good at what they do.

The highlight of the morning for me was Sadao Watanabe playing ‘Shosholoza’ on the saxophone. The early start was definitely worth it.

South Africa hosts two major jazz events: the Joy of Jazz festival in Johannesburg (in August) and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (in March). There is also fantastic jazz on offer at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and during the Arts Alive festival in September - as well as at other events and festivals throughout the year - but none of these are dedicated events where diverse local and international stars get to do their thing on the stage.

While Joy of Jazz Festival goers can debate the line-up on offer (not all of it was jazz and not all of it was good) there certainly was enough to keep most people humming and grooving for most of the time. As is always the case though when you have several events running concurrently at different venues, there are some you will have to miss out on.

This is another reason that I was so delighted with my early morning ‘concert’ - it was my only opportunity to hear some of the artists that I otherwise would have missed. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal (so long as we stayed out of shot!) and there were some great opportunities to chat to some of the artists like Anat Cohen and Auriol Hays - both of whom were fresh and friendly despite the hour. The highlight of the morning for me was Sadao Watanabe playing ‘Shosholoza’ on the saxophone. The early start was definitely worth it.

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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