The 5 to 7 July 2012 edition of City Hall Sessions features a series of musical collaborations unlikely to be repeated again. Although separate sets by Maskanda guitar legend Madala Kunene and renowned vocalist Caiphus Semenya headline as the grand finale of the mini music festival on Saturday 7 July, to many the once-in-a-lifetime collaborations to be seen on Thursday 5 July and Friday 6 July will be the real drawcards.
Entitled The Bridge, and featuring creative direction by drummer Kesivan Naidoo and musical arrangements by pianist Andre Petersen, Thursday 5 July will feature a repertoire of South African compositions and classics, with a twist.
Top-flight local artists collaborate
Stretching over two sets and starting with a duo, the line-up of musicians will seamlessly enter and exit in varying combinations and numbers, taking audience members on a musical journey narrated by actor David Isaacs. Featured principals include Afropop singer Zolani Mahola of Freshlyground, saxophonist Khaya Mahlangu and guitarist Errol Dyers. The show will also serve as a special hometown appearance for New York-based saxophonist Morris Goldberg. Goldberg and his band are in South Africa to perform at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and his appearance at City Hall Sessions is made possible with the facilitation of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival.
Other international guests performing in The Bridge include top Swedish double bass player Martin Sjöstedt, who has a longstanding relationship with South Africa. Martin has recorded and collaborated with South African artists such as Kesivan Naidoo, Melanie Scholtz and Mark Fransman. He regularly plays with well-known jazz names such as Joey Calderazzo and Joe Lovano, and is also bass player for the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra.
Bringing fresh talent to the stage
Younger musicians will also have the opportunity to share the stage with their heroes, including Lwanda Gogwana on trumpet, Siya Charles on trombone and Reza Khota on guitar.
“Part of the City Hall Sessions mandate is to use the spotlight cast on the bigger names to bring fresh talent to the stage,” explains Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, managing director of the Cape Town Partnership, which includes Creative Cape Town and its City Hall Sessions project.
“It is also important for us to motivate the local creative industry by encouraging experimentation. Setting the standard of always bringing something new to the stage, City Hall Sessions serve to educate audiences and stimulate musicians.”
Pushing stimulation, inspiration and experimentation even further will be the cutting-edge sounds to be pumped out on Friday 6 July. Headline Afropop heartthrobs Joe Nina and MXO are each profiled names in their own right, but have been collaborating as a duo for the past year. Their joined vocal ministrations in the second set will offer an insightful blend between MXO’s hip-hop fusion oriented delivery, and Joe Nina’s soulful, often jazzy melodies.
Closet Snare and City Hall Chamber String Ensemble pair up
Meanwhile, the first set will see electronic jazz collective Closet Snare on stage with the 12-piece City Hall Chamber String Ensemble, as well as vocalist Inge Beckmann of Lark fame, emcee EJ von Lyrik, and 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award-winning keyboardist Bokani Dyer – this time on synthesisers.
Itself billed as an experiment in ongoing collaboration, the members of Closet Snare are each individually accomplished musicians who participate in numerous bands of varying genres. The band comprises Mark Buchanan on guitar, Kesivan Naidoo on drums, Lee Thomson on trumpet and flugelhorn, Shane Cooper on bass, Mr Sakitumi on decks and machines, and The Grrrl on visuals. Thomson is directing the set.
The concept for these collaborations was orchestrated by Silent Revolution, the music events and promotions company owned by Naidoo and Thompson. The company was born on the back of the massive-scale collaborative concert that the pair organised and staged in 2004, the impetus of which has been revived in these two performances. It also follows the company’s successful Winter Jazz Series held at the Fugard theatre last year, which also ran hot off the back of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown.
“The long term potential of such musical collaborations is that it introduces musicians to each other here in Cape Town, and nurtures formal working relationships that fortify the local industry on the global landscape,” Bulelwa explains.
To book your ticket to the July 2012 edition of City Hall Sessions, head to Computicket.
Image: Closet Snare and guests, photo by John Pillemer