Jazz is seemingly becoming popular in Kenya. Last week, fans thronged the Uhuru Gardens on a weekday for the Safaricom Jazz Lounge. Surprisingly, young fans trooped in more than the older folks. The Safaricom Jazz Festival takes a generous view of what constitutes jazz; Grammy award winner, Dianne Reeves, Italian jazz luminaries Double Cut and Kenyan guitar maverick, Kato Change were the main feature acts for this festival
Double cut set the stage for us.
This is the first time I saw the band live. I was unprepared for the musical experience. Though, I was moved by their music performance.
The band beautifully laced together beautiful harmonies that compelled my inner being to yearn for more. This sense of musical subtlety through playfulness showed their ingenious virtuosity.
The band comprised of Tino Tracanna and Massimiliano Milesi, the group’s leaders and saxophone players. They performed a special arrangement dedicated to their African tour. It was wonderfully intimate, with Giulio Corini on double bass and Filippo Sala on drums who embellished the saxes without getting in the way. They were playful improvisers. It was clearly evident of their vast musical experience with their inventive harmonic and melodic construction of songs such as Perfect and Love & Love again. The level of musicianship expressed that evening was a tremendous display of musicality and instrumental mastery.
The mesmerizing Kato Change Experience
The crowd went wild when they saw the young man who represented Kenya hold up his guitar ready to cast a spell with his music.
With the spotlight on him, you could clearly see his face beaming with excitement. With a gleeful face, Kato went on to say how he longed to have performed at the Safaricom Jazz stage. Kato has been at the Safaricom stage as a backup artist for renowned Kenyan born- US based pianist, Aaron Rimbui in 2014.
With a full circle of musicians backing him up, it was definitely a dream come true for this Kenyan self-taught guitarist. Though Kato has become known for his experimental and electronic-aided sound, the jazz sound bellowed with songs such as Nairobi, African Woman that suggested his jazz influence seeped his creative process in a voracious way.
Dianne Reeves at her best
When I look back at this night, we got to experience one of the best jazz vocalists of our time. She has honed a niche by melding pop music and offering it a jazz approach. Dianne embraced the stage with ease, taking command of the space with a calm demeanour.
You could clearly hear in each song, she is a seasoned jazz singer with a vast vocal range, rich, meticulous, expressive, excellent technical execution on a superb vocal foundation as she fluidly elongated certain notes and changed the melody on alternated chords.
Her impressive personality projected a warmth and fun person, not to mention a million-watt smile. She performed a good selection from her repertoire, every one of them sending a delighted recognition through the audience.
Images Courtesy of: Safaricom PLC 🙂