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Freedom Park steams Jazz for Lagos at 50


Fuji musician performing at the 2017 Lagos International Jazz Festival held recently at the Freedom Park, Lagos

From a humble beginning few years ago, the yearly Lagos International Jazz Festival has become a major part of the city’s events calendar, with notable stars on parade. And with the coming of the Freedom Park on Marina, Lagos, the music project seems to have found a perfect home, with five different stages to its disposal.

As part of the Lagos @ 50 celebration, Inspiro Productions, organisers of the jazz festival pulled off another feat in honour of the city that has given so much to the entertainment industry. Aside from parading over 50 musicians, the inclusion of Fuji musicians Obesere and Malaika for the three-day gig, provided a new twist to the festival, which originally created to celebrate and propagate jazz music.

Themed 505050JAZZ Lagos@50, event was planned to climax at the end of The April Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), which happened to be on April 30, the International Jazz Day celebrated worldwide. But prior to the main festival, three Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) session events and three empowerment workshops were conducted at various venues in the city, including the SPAN academy of Jazz & contemporary music, The Posh Renaissance Hotel GRA Ikeja, Southpaw Lounge Gbagada, and Industry Nite at The Spice Route Victoria Island, Lagos. And for the first time in the history of the music project, the festival committed to raise funds in support of two charities in Lagos: The Down Syndrome Nigeria Foundation and Sesor Foundation for Internally Displaced Persons.


The main festival kicked off at the Freedom Park, on Friday the April 28, with exciting performances from core jazz and Jazz related artistes such as master percussionist Samson Iroko, fellow of London School of music saxophonist Olumide Shobowale, soft rock and alternative music guitarist Nathmac, Piano Duke, master bassists duo D-Bass & Joshua Fashina (Agbar Joshu), Ajaga Master Ade Piper, Clintonic the violinist, Celeste, Wole Jesutomi and trumpeter Jesse Ibidun.

The day two of the festival paraded the likes of Afro Gospel Sensation Kenny Kore, Ace Saxophonist Dotun Dina, Afro-Highlife Trombonist Femi Slide, Nathan, Oluchi, Multiple Percussionist Aje Band & Saxophonist Justin Ige perform.

But the grand finale was fully loaded, with artistes such as Organic Jazz Band, bass master Bright Gain, Jojo Body Beats, Afrocentric musician Elfreda, dynamic Afrobeat/Highlife Multi–Instrumentalist Seun Olota, Ken Baze, Damilare Sax, Afro-Jazz/Highlife Guitarist Adeh and the delectable Moyeen. Guests were obviously in ecstasy when the paramount King of Fuji Music Obesere mounted the stage at about 11pm. For over an hour, he thrilled the crowd with hits from his repertoire, which surprisingly had generality of the crowd sing and dance.

As his performance ended, fuji music star Malaika and his orchestra of native percussions and other musicians, got on stage and thrilled the elated crowd; a perfect choice to wrap up the special edition of the festival.

In a rare display of solidarity, the LIJF founder Ayoola Sadare, welcomed on stage the founder of Satchmo Jazz, Dolapo Ajayi, who had just organised an international jazz day event at Othello’s lounge in the city. PMAN national president Pretty Okafor also got an opportunity give his brief goodwill message to the audience and organisers.


On the inclusion of indigenous artistes, especially the fuji musicians, to this year’s lineup, Sadare said, “we decided to look inwards to recognise and honour our own indigenous music and musicians that are making a mark no matter the genre. The likes of Fuji, apala, Sakara, Juju, Afrobeat, Highlife and others, are our own Jazz or what we have termed NAIJAZZ. Other countries celebrate their musicians on their stages and we shouldn’t be the exception,” he said.

The music promoter further stated, “as a tourism based international event, we are developing a tourism and cultural offering that visitors can’t get anywhere in the world except on our stage. As the festival progresses hereafter we hope to be able to add more of our rich cultural and indigenous genres from all part of the country to the offering so that international patrons, who should form a large part of our audience, can experience and enjoy our own blend of contemporary indigenous music. The Jazz component will not be removed, but complemented with these various genres. It’s dynamic, innovative and of course relevant. Many collaborations and partnerships have already been formed from this festival and we are satisfied,” he explained.

The LIJF 505050JAZZ Lagos@50 Special Edition Festival was supported by Helping Hands International, PMAN, Freedom Park, Megapluxglobal, Configure systems, Efizzi worldwide and Ultrasight.


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