19 October 2010 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

The Joy of Jazz

It’s Saturday night and I can hear it long before I see it. Walking down towards Mary Fitzgerald Square past the market theatre, Newtown is bustling - the restaurants are full, the marquees are blazing, the smell of street food mingles with the cool Jozi air and there’s a whole lot of noise!

It’s the final night of Joy of Jazz and I wouldn’t have missed it - especially given the early morning taster I had earlier in the week.

This annual jazz festival takes place in the Newtown Precinct in Johannesburg at a number of venues - all within easy walking distance of each other and the rest of Newtown’s many attractions - such as the Market Theatre, MuseuMAfrica, Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Bassline, the Dance Factory and the SAB World of Beer.

And then there is just her voice and incredible stage presence that draws everyone in. Her performance is so full of feeling it almost hurts at times.

Newtown is very ‘Afropolitan’ and just being part of it makes me feel young and trendy and very cool (although I’m not any of those things really!) The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly as we take our place to watch South African band ‘Upbeat’ (who play with tons of conviction). When their 40 minutes is up, we stay on to listen to Wanda Baloyi. I didn’t really ‘feel’ her performance (although there is no doubt she can sing) so we decide to try our luck next door. Here, Sadao Watanabe’s connection to the audience is palpable and this jazz is about as joyful as it gets. When he leaves the stage there is an atmosphere of happy empathy and understanding as we wait for Oumou Sangare. And then there is just her voice and incredible stage presence that draws everyone in. Her performance is so full of feeling it almost hurts at times. My eyes are drawn to some women from Mali who move to her music as though they are part of it, right up against the front of the stage. I don’t know what she’s singing - but I understand her all the same.

And then I buy a prego roll from a chaotic food stall and, with all the movement and the music around me, feel uplifted and strangely at peace.

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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