IF jazz can be given the attribute of being a narcotising substance then I and a host of other attendees at this yearâ€™s Harare International Jazz Festival can lay claim to having been â€œjazzed upâ€ by the time we left the Celebration Centre last Saturday.
Organised by versatile drummer and promoter Sam Mataure the festival had all the makings of an impressive show with a line-up consisting of some of the jazz industryâ€™s greats.
Divas Rute Mbangwa, Kudzai Sevenzo, Dudu Manhenga and Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana â€“â€“ who performed in that order respectively â€“â€“ gave a good account of themselves with Mbangwa performing songs from her recently released Rute Goes Kumanginde and Sevenzo rising to the occasion, highlighting that she is now a force to reckon with.
Manhengaâ€™s effervescent stage performance warmed the crowd up and was followed byÂ Katomeni-Mbofana whose commanding presence was complemented by lively and energetic backing vocalists.
Multi-award winning South African guitar maestro Ernie Smith â€“â€“ who recently released his first gospel album Blessed Man â€“â€“ conveyed a message of hope and restoration to the nation of Zimbabwe urging us to abide in godliness and trusting in God at all times. Â
Next up was Kunle Ayo the South African based Nigerian jazz guitarist who lit up the auditorium with a dose of West Africaâ€™s rich and rhythmic musical heritage.
The inimitable Yoruba sound characterised by the â€œtalking drumâ€ has become his trademark style which he then fuses with various Western jazz styles.
He then took his dazzling guitar work to the audience which included Oliver Mtukudzi to whom he paid tribute for being a great source of inspiration.
Judith Sephuma gave a soulful and spiritual performance in which she expressed thanks to God for having given her the strength to go on in spite of the travails she was having to deal with.
If anyone in the audience thought the show was now rumbling to a dreary end, they were jolted back to life by Jimmy Dludluâ€™s appearance on the stage. Dludluâ€™s intricate guitar prowess â€“â€“ which combines both traditional and modern elements of jazz, got the crowd on their feet.
Into Yami by Ringo Madlingozi capped a festival that celebrated diversity and which gave jazz lovers something to look forward to next time around.
BY NGONI MUZOFA