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Grammy Awardee Lekan Babalola, Bright Gain, Adeniji, Ego, Others For Lagos Int’l Jazz Festival


lekan babalola

Lekan Babalola

Cape Town Jazz Festival Founder Rashid Lombard Comes To Town

After months of working on the programme, Inspiro Productions has unveiled the list of headliners for this year’s Lagos International Jazz festival. Described as Nigeria’s premiere jazz feast, the initiative aims at celebrating Nigerian Jazz and Jazz related musicians, who play the genre of music in various fusions, but with indigenous flavor.

Billed to open on April 30, 2015, which is the International Jazz Day celebrated globally, the three day festival of live music, which holds at the Freedom Park, Marina, Lagos, will climax on May 2, with the likes of Grammy award winning percussionist Lekan Babalola, US based multi – instrumentalist Adeniji the ‘Heavywind’, bass virtuoso and director of the Span Academy of Jazz and Contemporary Music Bright Gain on parade. Also on the bill are veteran musician and classical clarinetist Tee Mac, vocal sensation diva Ego and neo-highlife musical icon Nomoreloss. However, in line with its tradition of giving young talent opportunity to showcase their talent, this year’s festival will also see some younger artistes perform live on stage.

Speaking on the festival, the founder and festival director Ayoola Sadare stated that the dream goes beyond making the Lagos International Jazz Festival just another entertainment event, adding that the main focus of the project is to add value to both the Lagos Megacity as a tourist destination, contributes to its GDP and presents an international platform for our indigenous musicians to explore.

“We believe that the festival should be one of the leading Jazz festivals in Africa in the near future and we are working tirelessly to fully integrate Lagos into the global jazz tourism circuit. We are satisfied with our eclectic lineup of artistes who will be playing this genre and other related ones with traditional Jazz, Naijazz, Afrojazz, Fuji, Afrobeat, Apala, Highlife and Naija-Hip-hop.”

Similar to what is obtainable at the yearly Cape Town International Jazz Festival in South Africa, performances at the Lagos Jazz Festival will be delivered on five different stages aptly named after prominent Nigerian musical icons of blessed memory. They include Fela Kuti, Elder Steve Rhodes, Fatai Rolling Dollar, Osita Osadebe and Bala Milla Stage.

Meanwhile, apart from the musical performances, this year’s event will feature master-classes and art exhibitions. More interesting is the fact that this edition marks the 10th anniversary of Inspiro productions going to South Africa to bring the event to Nigeria. As part of the celebration, Rashid Lombard, founder Cape Town International Jazz Festival will be the special guest of honour and speaker at this year’s International Jazz day lecture.

Born in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa on 10 April 1951, Lombard trained as an architectural draughtsman and then worked as an industrial photographer before becoming a photojournalist covering Africa, particularly South Africa, where he focused on photographing the rise of the South African democratic movement. Widely travelled, he has worked for the BBC, NBC, AFP and a number of progressive publications such as Grassroots and South and his works have been part of exhibitions all over the world. He was a member of the Vukalisa artists’ collective, which promoted community-based cultural activities in Southern Africa. His book of Jazz photographs, Jazz Rocks, was published in 2010.

A passionate lover of music and Jazz in particular, Lombard managed several radio stations before starting the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which is now in its 16th year. The Mandela Bay Music Festival was also launched in Port Elizabeth, his home town, in 2011 and similar jazz festivals under his leadership have been held in Mozambique and Angola, with plans to expand into the rest of Africa including Namibia, Tanzania and Botswana, all having a strong tourism component.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which he founded, brings a mixture of more than 40 African and International musicians from all over the world to perform over two days, attracting audiences in excess of 30 000 from around the globe. Presently, it’s ranked one of the top five best Jazz Festivals in the world, below Montreaux and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and above the North Sea jazz Festival. The weeklong program focuses on workshops, training and mentoring sessions to develop music appreciation, performance and tourism.

Top performers at the festival in the past included the Buena Vista Social Club, Mi Casa, Jimmy Dludlu, Jill Scott, Gregory Porter, Al Jarreau, Spyrogyra, yellow Jackets, Lauryn Hill, Miriam Makeba and Femi Kuti to mention a few. Currently, the event contributes about R700 Million (N1.4 Billion), showing an increased and sustained positive multiplier effect to the Western Cape economy. Besides, the festival created over 2500 additional employment opportunities across several different industries, roughly 400 of which were exclusively dependent on the festival. This is quite an achievement for a two-day event considering that a large number of other South Africa arts and music events take place over a week or more. This success story is what Ayoola Shadare’s Inspiro Productions aims to replicate in Nigeria through the Lagos Jazz Festival, which it has vigorously pursued over the years with little or no sponsorship.

“This year, the festival is going a step higher by incorporating both the Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) and International Jazz Day to its program. The month of April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) and worldwide, a number of programs to promote Jazz both as an historical and contemporary art form are held with concerts, lectures, workshops and exhibitions. The JAM culminates with the International Jazz Day on APRIL 30 and this was officially designated in November 2011 by UNESCO in order to highlight Jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. We expect a huge turnout to the event given the extensive media and publicity plan put in place with support from the city’s leading radio stations and other media outlets,” Inspiro boss said.

Though the headliners would obviously be the centre of attraction during the two-day feast, guests and visitors should find time to see the young talents express themselves on stage; watching the likes of Aduke last years, was an assurance that the future is bright for alternative sounds in Nigeria.

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