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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Jazz explosion hits Joburg as Joy of Jazz festival returns after two-year break 

Music fans swamp Sandton this weekend as they moved from stage to stage to hear the very best in Jazz music.

Two days of a heavy dose of jazz, dancing, ululating, clapping of hands and stomping of feet, over the weekend marked the incredible return of the well-attended Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival in Johannesburg.

2022 Joy of Jazz festival

The event saw music enthusiasts thronging into the Sandton Convention Centre and – as it is old tradition – staying on until the early hours of the morning.

From the soothing sounds of world-acclaimed guitarist Jimmy Dludlu, love songs of Ringo Madlingozi, to the traditionally-poetic Thandiswa Mazwai – the festival made an appeal to all, with Mzwai’s rendition of anti-apartheid protest songs like Letta Mbulu’s Jikijela ngamatshe (“throw stones”) – evoking memories of struggles waged by the June 1976 youth, who faced the might of armed police with stones.

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Prompting crowds to respond with a clenched-fist black-power salute in honour of the class of 1976 – the likes of Tsietsi Mashinini, Murphy Morobe and Seth Mazibuko – Mazwai belted out Jikijela to the appreciation of crowds at the Mbira stage, with many giving her a standing ovation.

Dressed in a traditional attire, Mazwai superbly performed the Xhosa umxhentso dance – known to be rendered by amagqirha (traditional healers) during customary ceremonies.

Her dancing included overt shoulder movements – shaking the the upper body and stomping feet.

Also performing at Mbira, were the ever-loved Zamajobe, Maleh, Jeziel Brothers and Brenda Mtambo.

At the Conga stage, roaring crowds watched stunning performances by Lwanda Gogwana, Southern African band Mahube, Msaki and Sello Galane.

The Dinaledi stage line-up included The Horn Summit in tribute to the legendary jazz trumpeter Johnny Mekoa, Linda Sikhakhane, Bokani Dyer, Moreira Chonguica, Jaco Maria, Wouter Kellerman, Gloria Bosman and the Female Band; legendary Sipho Hotstix Mabuse and Mandisi Dyantyis.

Signage telling people where to go

Reflecting on the Joy of Jazz Festival, Richard Mhlontlo of Johannesburg, who has been a regular to the original Amsterdam North Sea Jazz festival, said: “Walking in and getting a view of the programme, to see who is performing, some partnership in terms of improving technology is key.

“These days it is simple, because you can have a central barcode, where people can scan with their phones and immediately have the full programme for the day.

“It would be a nice way to form a partnership with one of the start-up companies, with Standard Bank being part of the Innovation Fund.

“Standard Bank has an interesting innovation fund, with information technology companies doing some amazing work for them – part of technical innovation to make it more accessible to people.

“The traffic that you see around is because people are searching for the venue where the next artist will be performing,” Mhlontlo said.

“But if you know and you have these electronic boards on the different floors, then it would be the nice way to do it.

“We have a similar thing here, which compares to the Cape Town Jazz Festival, which I will be attending in April-March next year.

“The last Cape Town Jazz Festival was not as tech-driven, but in terms of signage – telling people where to go, I feel this one is better,” Mhlontlo said of the Joy of Jazz festival.

– brians@citizen.co.za

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