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American jazz musicians tour Zim

JAZZ lovers will receive a rare treat when US jazz musical group Ryan Cohan Quartet tours Zimbabwe. The Chicago-based group — composer and pianist Ryan Cohan, Geof Bradfield on saxophone, Lorin Cohen on bass and Kobie Watkins on drums — will be hol

ding workshops and educational sessions with students and musicians and will hold concerts at different venues.

The group will kick off their Zimbabwean tour with a concert at Pakare Paye Arts Center in Norton on Monday February 18. The group will also perform to the Harare public on Wednesday, February 20 at the Harare International School in Mount Pleasant. Both concerts are free.

The group will conclude their tour with a joint concert with Luck Street Blues featuring veteran guitarist Dave Ndoro at Harare’s premier jazz club, the Mannenberg, on February 21.

The group’s tour of Zimbabwe concludes a marathon tour of countries in the Middle East and Africa that saw the group visit Jordan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda since January 29.

US Embassy public affairs officer, Paul Engelstad described the tour by the jazz group as “a musical homecoming of sorts that will allow the group to bridge cultural divides and communicate with their audiences through the universal language of jazz”.

“While on tour, the group will introduce their music within the context of the great repertoire of jazz and open up dialogue, meet Zimbabwean musicians, interact with them and play with them,” said Engelstad.

He added that one of the great features of jazz is its ability to incorporate music from all over the world and the communication that goes on among the musicians that get together to play.

None of the group members ever has travelled to Africa before.

Saxophonist Bradfield told a news website before their departure from the US that the prospect of hearing local musicians is exciting.

“We would not necessarily be able to hear a jazz band from Zimbabwe in the United States. A lot of people are saying they do not have the opportunity to hear jazz from the United States very often. Well we — to a much greater degree — do not have the opportunity to hear them. So I am excited to hear what it will be like. Many times when you go to a different country, you hear a different flavor of jazz in each country,” he said.

The Ryan Cohan Quartet constantly searches for new musical territory to explore while remaining deeply rooted in jazz and blues traditions. Conversant in a variety of world-music styles and rhythms, the group has distinguished itself on major stages throughout the US and Canada by balancing dynamic and tight ensemble playing with explosive, expressive solos.

The tour is part of The Rhythm Road- American Music Abroad programme, co-sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State and the Jazz at Lincoln Center programme, which offers professional American jazz and urban music performers the chance to perform their music in countries with limited exposure to American culture. — Staff Writer.

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