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International guest stars headline Mainstream Jazz at Fest

Published on 16 May 2013

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown 2013 incorporates a variety of disciplines into their programme. Mainstream is one of the genres that will be highlighted at the festival this year, though it is just one part of the formidable line-up which includes Blues / Funk / World Music, Afro-Jazz, Modern Jazz and Youth.

Trombonist Steve Turre of the Juilliard School of Music, New York, has played and recorded with many artists around the world. These include Dexter Gordon, McCoy Tyner, Roland Kirk, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ray Charles, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Carlos Santana, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Mingus Big Band, JJ Johnson and hundreds of others, but his most iconic performances were probably with Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra where he shot to prominence on both trombone and shells. He has won the Down Beat Readers’ poll five times as Best Trombonist and has enthralled audiences with his performances on different sized conch shells. Turre is an innovative musician and composer who keeps one foot in the past and one in the future. He adds zest to the Awesome Big Band, and his solo show is supported by a strong line-up compromising Marcus Wyatt (Trumpet), Bokani Dyer (piano), Hein van de Geyn (bass) and Kevin Gibson (drums).

Steve Turre

One of the sell-out trademarks of the Jazz Festival in Grahamstown is the Awesome Big Band – a unique selection of top international jazz musicians in a standard Big Band format. A band of this nature is also known as a Jazz Orchestra for the dynamic and harmonic depth and contrast that arrangers can produce from 17 instruments, reminiscent of Classical orchestras but with the added power and energy that jazz exudes. This year’s band is conducted by Canadian trumpeter Bruce Cassidy, renowned for his quirky, powerful arrangements.

Regular audiences at the National Arts Festival will recognise Frank Sinatra & Friends as a sequel to the series of earlier successes that have been conceptualised and conducted by maestro, Richard Cock. In 2011, Andrew Lloyd Webber & Friends sold out within days of opening bookings. In 2012, Louis Armstrong & Friends (2012) was presented in a larger venue and once again, the sold out show meant that a number of music enthusiasts had to be turned away. In 2013, Frank Sinatra & Friends will have two perfor mances. In this concert, Nic Nicolaidis and Zwai Bala accompanied by the notable KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra will serenade audiences with melodies such as Fly me to the moonI’ve got you under my skinFascinating RhythmUnforgettable and of course the singularly popular Sinatra signature song, My way.

AJ Brown is a young singer and saxophonist from Britain who is rapidly gaining a popular reputation around Britain. He has performed at the Wigan International Jazz Festival and Birdland Club in New York amongst others and was guest vocalist for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in Britain. He has quickly mastered the tunes of the great crooners like Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé and Nat King Cole and has begun producing his own compositions, which are eagerly received. He performs in Grahamstown with Kingsley Buitendag (piano), Gorm Helfjord (guitar), Romy Brauteseth (bass), and Kevin Gibson (drums).

AJ Brown

Justin Binek is the Head of Vocal Jazz Studies at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and maintains an active jazz and classical performing schedule as a singer, pianist, and clinician/adjudicator. He is a prolific arranger and composer and performs in Europe and the US. Paulien van Schaik studied voice at the jazz department of the Conservatory of Utrecht and Berklee College of Music in Boston, and has performed across Europe and in Japan and China. With their tasteful backing band, comprising Jason Reolon (piano), Ola Bengtsson (guitar), Shaun Johannes(bass), and Lloyd Martin (drums); their Vocal Celebration should prove heavenly!

Van Schaik also presents a show with fellow Dutch performer Hein Van de Geyn. Both musicians are on top of their game – masters of their instruments in a context so subtle the audience is spellbound. The critics agreed: “Hein and Paulien have stripped the music of all its frills. A courageous couple, for there is nothing to disguise them. Their interaction is of an ethereal beauty. This must be how angels sing.” Their second recording won an Edison Prize (Dutch Grammy Award). Cape Town percussionist Ronan Skillen joins them as guest.

This year will also see the establishment of the Standard Bank Jazz & Blues Cafe at the Lowlander, St. Andrew’s College, which will end each night with a great jazz show and a late night jazz jam session or blues gig – a place where audiences can catch musicians letting off steam and butting musical heads late into the night, featuring the likes of Nduduzo Makhathini, saxophonist Dan Shout, Lee Thomson, Imbaula, and the Rick van Heerden Quartet.

dan shout band

The 39th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place from 27 June to 7 July 2013.

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The Standard Bank Jazz Festival is presented with support funding from:

Institut Français, the French Institute of South Africa and the Alliance Française

Paul Bothner Music


Royal Netherlands Embassy

Royal Norwegian Embassy


Swedish Arts Council / Swedish Jazz Federation / Mary Lou Meese Youth Jazz Fund

Jamey Aebersold Jazz

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Eastern Cape Government, Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council, City Press and M Net.