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Lagos Steams Jazz, As Babalola, Solanke, Ajayi, Batic, Others Groove

By Chuks Nwanne
15 May 2015   |   11:46 pm
Lovers of music and jazz devotees got more than they bargained, as Inspiro Productions recently staged the third edition of the Lagos International Jazz Festival.


Lovers of music and jazz devotees got more than they bargained, as Inspiro Productions recently staged the third edition of the Lagos International Jazz Festival.

For three days (between April 30 to May 2), the Freedom Park, one of the leading cultural hotspots in the Lagos megacity, played host to guests from different walks of life, including expatriates and tourists, who were part of the three-day live music extravaganza.

Unlike in the days when jazz music was erroneously tagged ‘old skool’, the Lagos International Jazz Festival organisers seem to have found a winning formula for the jazz feats; there’s something for both the old and young on the five different performance stages.

So, from the Fela Kuti Stage to Steve Rhodes Stage, Rolling Dollar Stage, Bala Miller and Osita Osadebe Stage, live music rented the air.

Coincidentally, this year’s edition was significant as it started on April 30 the International Jazz day, which climaxed the April long Jazz Appreciation month.

So, in a way, it was double celebration. However, before festival proper, a few of the musicians performed at several venues in the city including Bogobiri and the Jazzhole both in Ikoyi.

jimi solanke

jimi solanke

So, the momentum had already built up and expectations high as the actual festival itself kicked off. The Day One started on April 30, the International Jazz Day, with a film show facilitated by the American Embassy Lagos titled Legends Of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis and was followed by the International Jazz Day Lecture delivered by co-founder of the Cape Town International Festival Rashid Lombard.

Titled Jazz festivals as a driver for tourism and economic growth, Lombard noted that Festivals generally are powerful marketing opportunities, adding that incorporating festivals into marketing strategies is not, however, simply the addition of a vehicle to the tourism and growth marketing mix.

“The value of festivals to destination building – Brand and metrics – is far more strategic than that. Importantly, festivals offer a destination the opportunity to achieve a number of strategic imperatives central to tourism and economic growth and development – imperatives which, technically speaking, exist within most Economic Development plans across the world, in one form or another,” he said.

Describing Jazz Festival as a multi-faceted multi-dimensional series events, where Jazz as a music form is a central core of a much wider and larger experience, Lombard stated that, “certainly whether you all Jazz or no Jazz or a mix, you will be exposed to host of other experiences both at the Jazz Festival as well in the local environs and community.”

According to Lombard, a consistently well programmed and well produced Jazz Festival is in short terms a huge driver of tourism and economic growth to the extent of putting destinations on the map.

“I mentioned earlier Montreux and New Orleans, I could add Newport and others. I would like to think Cape Town as well with the CTIJF.

A Jazz Festival as a driver will after 10 to 15 years be quite capable of bring US$100 million per year to a host city with a media recovery that is priceless and literally impossible to buy,” he said.

Delivering his paper titled The power and essence of Jazz – Fela as case study, veteran broadcaster and Jazz critic Benson Idonije noted that the unique relevance of jazz as an art form is formidable.

“Jazz is much more than just a musical art form; it is an affirmation of our ability to peacefully collaborate and cooperate as musicians in spite of profound differences – to speak with our unique individual voices while still respecting and celebrating the collective.”

biodun batik

Biodun batik

Idonije, who was Fela’s first manager added that, for us in Africa, the power of jazz is so forceful that it is the element that continues to propel African musicians and their music to the warm embrace of the international pop mainstream; a driving force for acceptance and recognition in the west.

“Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango, Angelique Kidjo, Youssou Nduor have passed through this musical route, but the most perfect example is Fela Anikulapo Kuti, whose Afro beat has become world beat.

Fela’s Afro beat is jazz-fusion. He has demonstrated that non – jazz musicians will always find it difficult to play Afrobeat.”

At the event, Inspiro boss Ayoola Sadare also shared his journey into the world of Jazz from 2005 till date, after which a cocktail was held in honour of the Jazz impresario and special guest of honour that had music lovers and others dignitaries, friends and well wishers in attendance.

“The 2015 edition was symbolic in many ways as it marked 10 years since I journeyed to South Africa to seek Rashid Lombard the founder of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival to help establish a similar successful Jazz festival in Lagos and to help integrate the megacity into the global jazz tourism circuit,” he said.

Coincidentally, this was when and where Sadare met Lekan Babalola, Nigeria’s master percussionist and two time Grammy winner, who happened to be the headline act at this year’s edition alongside Herbert Kunle Ajayi, Daniel Isele, Biodun Batik, Prince Eji Oyewole, Jimi Solanke and other celebrated musicians.

The opening day featured performances by HKA, Nesta, Aduke, Adeh, Ini the Minstrel and others that opened the show on the various stages.

But the Day 2 and 3 of the festival had more of the largely Nigerian musicians, who play a blend of Jazz and Jazz related music both accomplished and upcoming.

“The vision is that in years to come, tourists would fly in from all over the world to hear the beautiful sounds of Jazz and indigenous music in the ever bustling Lagos Megacity”

The list include Imole Afrika, Wole Jesutomi, Samson Iroko, Tosin Paul, Seun Stics, Daniel Bankole, Bimbola, Kingsley Etuk, Femi Slide, Tayo Conga, Wisdom Justine, Oba, Phebean, Survival Band and The MTN project fame season 7 winners, who experimented with fusions.

jahman anikulapo and rashid lombard

jahman anikulapo and rashid lombard

New visible additions to the event this year included the VIP Corporate Hospitality Lounges namely Piano, Trumpet and Sax Lounges, with Telecoms giant MTN very prominent in their exclusive Piano Lounge, where they entertained their guest.

The organisers also put together a ‘who’s who’ event brochure containing festival information with the festival website complementing and festival merchandise like t-shirts were also available. The 2015 festival was staged with support from Sovereign Trust, Hellofoods, Easytaxi, Supermart, Cway waters, 7up, Tasman, Hotel 1960, Luzol, Delaja Daniel Photography, Adex Records, Kadia Makeovers, Jacob’s Canaan and others.

The Lagos International Jazz festival ended on a high note with Bay Lounge Waterfront Lekki hosting the after party, with performances by Tarri, Adeh and others.

“The vision is that in years to come, tourists would fly in from all over the world to hear the beautiful sounds of Jazz and indigenous music in the ever bustling Lagos Megacity,” Sadare said.