Safaricom International Jazz Festival to change Elitist notions of the Genre

Jazz Bassist & Musician Richard Bona

The inaugural Safaricom International Jazz Festival happening on 23rd February will feature international and local artists wit

h the week-long concerts ending with a family extravaganza at the Ngong Racecourse.

The Festival will be an exciting one week multi-venue music and cultural festival showcasing the best in emerging and acclaimed talent from Africa and beyond.

I had a virtual interview with the Safaricom team organising the event and they had this to say about the upcoming event.

KP: The Festival will be a week-long event starting from 23rd to 28th Feb, which other venues will the festival be held apart from Ngong Race course?

It will be a one week festival including indoor concerts leading to the outdoor concert on 23rd February 2014 at the Ngong Racecourse.

KP: Who are some of the international and Local Jazz acts that will perform?

Richard Bona, Yuval Cohen, Rhythm Junks and The Nile Project. Local acts include Aaron Rimbui, Chris Bittok, Eddie Grey , Kavutha Mwanzia and Jacob Asiyo.

KP: There has been several attempts to have frequent international jazz festivals in Kenya before, most of them unsuccessful, how will Safaricom change this.

By looking at this from a partnership lens and not a commercial one. Working with our local and international partners to showcase talent from various countries in a medley of multi-venue concerts. Also, by making it affordable for everyone and every budget.

KP: What sort of experience can Jazz lovers look forward to?

An international and cultural experience with plenty to do for all ages. There will be plenty of room on the magnificent Ngong Racecourse for you and your family to roam, play, picnic, and enjoy an international music experience and a tempting array of food and beverages from different parts of the world!

KP: The ‘ Safaricom Live’ concerts have been a huge success bringing alot of professionalism in the way artists perform including use of live bands, what are some of the things you hope to bring in to the Jazz Festival?

To help raise the bar of our very talented local jazz musicians so that they can compete with other international artists for jazz festival opportunities globally. We would also like to harness a jazz culture where our music students could also look at jazz as a genre that they could pursue.

KP: Alot of Jazz lovers normally make their way down South Africa, how do you plan on changing this and having more Southern Africa or even world Jazz lovers coming to Kenya as well?

This of course is our first go at the Jazz festival approach in Kenya but eventually the goal is to structure it so that this festival can compete alongside the very best jazz festivals like those down south or those in the west. With time, we would want this festival to gain enough mileage that will see international artists also apply to be a part of this festival.

KP: How often will the Festival be held?

KP: Who are some of the Jazz greats that fans can look out for in future events?

We don’t want to ruin great surprises J however we intend to bring you the best of the best from far and wide who will creatively collaborate with our very own stars.

KP: Jazz events have always been look at as elitist events with very high entrance rates, what is the idea behind the rates set for the festival at Ksh. 1,000 and Ksh. 300 for students

To create an affordable musical experience that will engage all

KP: Do you think this will set a precedent on future Jazz festivals not necessarily organized by Safaricom?

We do hope that this fever will catch on and that there will be opportunities for more festivals to commence especially in different regions across the country.

Tickets are available for KSh 2500 VIP Ksh 1,000 regular and Ksh 300 for students. Children under 12 come in free as long as they are accompanied by a paying adult.

Tickets are available at select Safaricom Shops – Sarit, Village Market, Junction, I&M and Galleria as well as the Safaricom Michael Joseph Centre.

For more information visit the MJ Center website

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