The vibrant and culturally rich province of KwaZulu-Natal will be hosting the KZN Schools Jazz Festival at AJ’s, Durban High School from 22-24 March.  This musical brilliance will bring saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane who hails from Emlazi and Moroccan multi-instrumentalist DJ Reqteq performing on stage.  Other artists that will complete the festival lineup include Andile Yenana, Romy Brauteseth, The Nick Pitman Quartet, Beat Route, Platform Jazz, UKZN Alumni Jazz Band with Neil Gonsalves, Debbie Marie & Thulile Zama, and The KZN Youth Wind Band.

Multi-instrumentalist Reqteq

This festival is the brainchild of jazz artist Natalie Rungan who is its director and is made possible through funding from the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and Nabak Arts.  It is a platform dedicated to nurturing young musical talent, fostering a love for Jazz, and provide a stage for renowned artists to inspire and collaborate.  It aims to create an immersive musical experience for attendees, fostering a sense of community and appreciations for the arts.

Saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane, a native of KwaZulu-Natal, has garnered international acclaim for his ability to weave traditional and contemporary Jazz influences seamlessly.  His performances are a captivating journey through the rich tapestry of South African musical heritage.  “We are honoured to have Linda as our KZN Schools Band leader and featured artist this year.  He epitomizes the type of role model that students can model after and aspire to be like”, Natalie said.  Linda will also lead the KZN Schools Jazz Band, which will be selected after an audition process at the festival.

Guitarist Nick Pitman

Reqteq (Yassine Reqati) is a multi-instrumentalist DJ from Morocco.  With a unique blend of traditional North African sounds, electronic beats, and a mastery of various instruments, Reqteq is set to enchant the audience with a genre-defying performance.  His inclusion in the lineup highlights the festival’s commitment to showcasing diverse musical styles and fostering global connections. “It’s also the first time we feature an international artist at the festival.  I first met Reqteq at Visa For Music in Morocco in 2023 and was delighted to discover that he also worked with young musicians in his country” Natalie said. 

In addition to the star-studded performances, the KZN Schools Jazz Festival 2024 is committed to nurturing young talent. The annual event will also incorporate daily workshops and student band rehearsals, enriching the experience for Jazz enthusiasts aged 13-18.  Daily workshops will provide students with invaluable insights, lessons, and hand-on experiences.  Led by the festival artists, who are musicians themselves, these workshops aim to inspire and cultivate the next generation of Jazz enthusiasts.

KZN Youth Wind Band

There a long-term objectives the festival hopes to achieve. “We want to build and grow a local festival along the same lines as the National Youth Schools Jazz Festival held in Makhanda, and we want it to be inclusive and remove the stumbling blocks.  Many talented children can’t attend the national festival, so Nabak Arts is set to create a festival here in KZN.  Our artist lineup includes world-class musicians coming together to help children develop their passion for music”, a very dedicated music teacher and festival director concluded.

Durban High School is in 225 St Thomas Road, Musgrave Durban. Book your seat via Webtickets by following the link  Jazz enthusiasts are advised to book early.  For more information on the festival, please follow Nabak Arts on Facebook and @nabakarts on Instagram.  In addition, please follow the festival’s director Natalie Rungan on Facebook, @natalierungan on Instagram and Natalie Rungan on LinkedIn.  The hashtag for the event is #KZNSchoolsJazzFestival