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Next generation showcased at the National Youth Jazz Festival

Published on 18 June 2014

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown 2014, incorporates a variety of disciplines into its programme. The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival is a regular highlight at the festival and this year will be no different. It is just one part of the exciting programme which includes Mainstream, Blues/Funk/World Music, Afro Jazz, Modern Jazz, and the Standard Bank Jazz and Blues Café.

Running alongside the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown, the National Youth Jazz Festival (NJYF) is intended as a national meeting point for South African musicians, jazz teachers and students, and is an excellent opportunity for networking and seeing what is happening in the jazz world, locally and internationally. It will run from 2 to 7 July at DSG in Grahamstown, and is open to musicians and jazz educators.

The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band presents a selection of the top young jazz musicians in the country between the ages of 19 and 25 years. This year the band is under the musical direction of South African pianist, saxophonist, composer, arranger and producer Mark Fransman.

The Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band consists of the top young jazz musicians in the country up to the age of 18 years. Under the musical direction of Prof. Mike Campbell – Head of Jazz Studies at UCT and renowned Big Band conductor – the band performs material worked on over the seven days of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival.

A celebration of school and university jazz choirs and vocal soloists from around the country will be directed by top professional vocalists Melanie Scholtz and Katharine Cartwright.

Programmes of School/Youth Bands allow exuberant young players to hone their craft on the Grahamstown stages; featuring the Johannesburg Youth Jazz Ensemble, Rondebosch Boys High School (Cape Town), Stirling High School (East London) and SACS aka South African College Schools (Cape Town); Lasses Lakejer, a band of young Swedish musicians from Gothenburg who were winners of the Swedish Jazz Federation Youth Competition 2013; and the UCT Big Band, heading into its third decade of jazz excellence.

There is such stiff competition for places in the National Bands that we now provide opportunities for those who just missed selection – effectively a National B Band. Drawn from around the country and with a selection of guest conductors, this band is guaranteed to sparkle with enthusiasm and creativity.

A new Jazz Festival venue – the Standard Bank Jazz & Blues Cafe at St. Aidan’s – will offer a great jazz show every night at 21.30 with a 23.30 jazz jam session where professional and student musicians drawn from across the Jazz genres will be jamming, improvising and letting loose late into the night.

The 40th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place 3 – 13 July 2014. For more information check or

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