Jazz enthusiasts will make their way to the Sandton Convention Centre will be home to enthusiasts as it hosts the 2023 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz (SBJOJ) next weekend 29 – 30 September ending Heritage Month.  Judging by its line-up of artists, the two day event caters for a very diverse audience.  This is a festival that has been hosted annually for more than two decades.

Patrons will be spoilt for choice at Dinaledi Stage, Conga Stage, Mbira Stage and The Market Place. The festival will also pay tribute to four departed South African jazz artists.  Billy Monama will pay tribute to the legendary Allen Kwela (1939 – 2003).  The Hugh Masekela Band will honour the late trumpeter who was affectionately called Bra Hugh (1939 – 2018). Herbie Tsoaeli will honour legendary bassist Johnny Dyani (1945 – 1986) and Titi Luzipo is set to honour vocalist Gloria Bosman (1973 – 2023).

Undoubtedly one of the artists fans revellers are waiting in anticipation for is multi award winning and versatile US pianist and producer Robert Glasper.  His crossover album titled “Black Radio” won him the Grammy Award for Best R&B, defining him as one that cannot be be boxed in one genre as he firmly believes in evolution which is reflected in the number of artists he has worked with.  He is a champion of Black music, Black love and the possibility of a better future.  Glasper is very outspoken on human rights issues including police brutality.

Pianist Robert Glasper

Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider who is turning 70 in October brings an ensemble which includes vocalists Ayanda Nhlangothi, Vusi Nhlapo and Vuyo Tshuma.  With a career spanning more than 4 decades, revellers will be treated to a pre-birthday celebration in song.  He has sold over 15 million records, won awards and has performed in many venues across the globe.  Vollenweider is renowned for creating his won instrument, his distinctive musical universe which has been embraced by his adoring fans.

Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini is one of those artists who is always teaming with different musicians on stage and in studio.  The multi-winning genius who describes himself as an improviser has released two albums with Blue Note Records “Modes of Communication: Letters From The Underworlds” (2020) and “In The Spirit of Ntu” (2022).  He has earned a status of an international artist and has showcased his talent in major festivals across the globe.  His trio will be completed by Cuban drummer Francisco Mela and bassist Zwelakhe Duma Bell-Le Pere with Omagugu Makhathini as special guest.

It does not come as a surprise that guitarist Billy Monama is part of SBJOJ line-up.  His debut album “Rebounce” (2017) is still a favourite of many music aficionados.  In 2020, he released tutorial videos “Introduction to South African Guitar Styles Vol1”.  The long list of artists he was worked with includes Themba Mkhize, Abdullah Ibrahim, Andile Yenana, Sibongile Khumalo, Victor Ntoni, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, Mbongeni Ngema, Dorothy Masuku, Abigail Kubeka and Dave Koz. In his tribute to Allen Kwela, he will be joined by Titi Luzipo and Mimi Mtshali. 

Vocalist Titi Luzipo

Another guitarist that will showcase his talent at the festival is Ernie Smith who began playing strings when he was 13.  He is inspired by Pat Metheny, George Benson, Sandile Shange, Jonathan Butler, Larry Carlton and Wes Montomery.  His debut album titled “Child of the Light” (2001) won him 2 South African Music Awards (SAMAs).  Smith has since released more recordings and has shown his versatility through his performances with other amazingly talented musicians.  His latest album “Colours” is released under his own record label named after his debut album.

Vocalist Simphiwe Dana has come a long way since the release of her debut album “Zandisile” in 2004.  She has released 4 more studio recordings “One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street”, “Kulture Noir”, Firebrand” and “Bamako”.  In addition to that, she has released 2 live CDs/DVDs, “Simphiwe Dana Live at the Lyric Theatre” and “The Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience”.  This vocalist whose accolades include SAMAs and Metro FM Awards is making a comeback to Africa’s premier jazz festival.

Undoubtedly one of the best live performers in the music industry, vocalist Zoë Modiga also making a comeback to the SBJOJ.  Born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, she is a quintessential artist who represents the present and the future of South African music.  Her music is drawn from human experience, identity and storytelling, and creates a distinct sound that communicates a modern, evolving story without loosing its essence.  The lively, transcendent performer has released two albums, “Yellow: The Novel” and“Inganekwane”.  She has won two Mzantsi Jazz Awards.

Guitarist Billy Monama

Bassist Herbie Tsoaeli will present a tribute to the late legendary bassist Jonny Dyani.  It will feature prominent bassists Viwe Mkizwana and Dalisu Ndlazi.  Drummer Leeroy Sauls, percussionist Godfrey Mgcina, bassist Fana Zulu, guitarist Cameron Ward, pianist Johan Mthethwa, trumpeter Sydney Mavundla, saxophonist Percy Mbonani, vocalists Mluleki Chuma and Selema Mokgothi are all members of the Hugh Masekela Band that will honour the late icon.  Vocalist Titi Luzipo will honour her late mentor and role model Gloria Bosman.

Legendary multi award winner and saxophonist McCoy Mrubata will be leading his ensemble Braaskap.  It comprises of vocalist Hlubi Kwebulana, trumpeter Lwanda Gogwana, trombonist Jabu Magubane, baritone saxophonist Gareth Harvey, pianist Wandile Molefe, bassist Thembinkosi Mavimbela and drummer Bernice Boikanyo.  Also, in the menu is iNkabi Zezwe Reframed, an exciting outfit that features SAMA award winning trumpeter Ndabo Zuluand reigning Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz Linda Sikhakhane.

Organizers of the festival need to be commended for their resilience and commitment in providing a platform for jazz artists to share and aficionados to enjoy. Standard Bank card holders qualify for up to 15% discount when they purchase their tickets at Computicket, which is limited to two tickets per person. Terms and conditions apply.  The day pass is going for R950 while the weekend pass costs R1800.  Follow Standard Bank Joy of Jazz on X @joyofjazz, Instagram @joyofjazz_ and on their Facebook Page – Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.