Eastern Cape Jazz Showcase

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The Eastern Cape Jazz Showcase (Dakawa Jazz Series) is a stunning showcase of the best Eastern Cape jazz talent, presented by the Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture. It is an exciting platform that aims to
connect the old with the new, with the programme featuring accomplished jazz artists as well as the up-and-coming ‘new kids on the block’. At #NAF2019, the programme is deeply Afrocentric, and the line-up features artists such as Mandisi Dyantjies, Wandile Mbambeni, Yankee Brothers, Sizwe Yaze, Isingqi Sengingqi as well as other inspiring artists from the Eastern Cape.

Too Many Zooz

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Coco Zhao & Huang Juanji and Asanda Mqiki

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Once a student of western classical piano and composition at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Coco Zhao discovered a new world in jazz vocals and has since been immersed in finding the unique cross-sections between Chinese traditional music, western classical music and jazz.

His unique voice, imagination and expressive singing style have made him one of China’s most creative artists and, dubbed “China’s most promising young Jazz musician”, by Youth Daily, his fast rise to international recognition has seen him receive invitations to music festivals worldwide.

Here he presents his “[Dream Situation]” album: a project of rearranged 1920 – 1930’s traditional Shanghai songs brilliantly reworked into a contemporary jazz framework and with the addition of a South African angle.

Touring with him is pianist Huang Juanji – the first Master’s graduate in Jazz from the Shanghai Conservatory and one of the most cosmopolitan jazz musicians presently based in Shanghai.

Company: Standard Bank Jazz Festival

Voice: Coco Zhou (CN)
Voice: Asanda Mqiki
Sax: Mthunzi Mvubu
Piano: Huang Juanji (CN)
Bass: Romy Brauteseth
Drums: Bruce Baker

RedSoil / BrownSoil

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Redsoil/Brown Soil is an intercontinental and interdisciplinary performance, bringing together theatre makers from Norway, Sweden and South Africa to explore the relationship we have to the land we walk on. It uses physical storytelling and visual theatre to draw on the artists’ different cultural, historic and geographical backgrounds to challenge ideas of space and to explore the complexities and politics of land and the earth.

The piece investigates the devastating impact of colonisation on land, and explores the relationship between Africa and Europe. Land ownership is not only economic, but also spiritual – how does it feel to walk on foreign soil, and what is the difference between those who walk on land they own and the experience of those who are landless?

Director: Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and Ragni Halle
Company: Theatreduo, Ragni Halle, Livia Hiselius

Devised by: The Company
Sound Design: John Withers
Cast: Billy Langa, Livia Hiselius

#NAF2019 MultiChoice Sundowers

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#NAF2019 Official Opening

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Thursday 27th June 2019.
National Arts Festival 2019,
1820 Settlers Monument, Fort Selwyn Drive,
Makana Municipality, Makhanda (Grahamstown),
Eastern Cape,
South Africa.


The official flag raising ceremony at the start of the National Arts Festival 2019.

A series of images taken of various artistic, dance and theatre performance pieces and exhibited installations done by a host of artists, dancers and performers amongst others during the National Arts Festival 2019 in Makhanda (Grahamstown), Makana Municipality, Eastern Cape, South Africa on Thursday 27th June 2019.

+27 (0)61 547 2729.

All Who Pass – Amy Jephta

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Written By: Amy Jephta
Music Composed By: Benjamin Jephta
Company: PaperJet
Directed by: Quanita Adams
Lighting Design: Jon Keevy
Costumes realised by: Leigh Bishop
With: Elton Landrew, Carmen Maarman, Jawaahier Petersen, Roberto Meyer and others

Amy Jeptha, this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, explores displacement in her new play, All Who Pass. The work time-travels between a 1974 eviction and a 2019 restitution. This play was first developed during the Royal Court Theatre International Playwriting Residency with support from the British Council.


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On the Main Dance programme at NAF2019:

  • The Boat – Broken Borders Arts Project Themba Mbuli, Fana Tshabalala Thulani Chauke, Billy Langa, Xolisile Bongwana
  • Spirit Child – The Q Dance Company Dancer & Choreographer: Qudus Onikeku
  • Amawethu – Conceived, choreographed and directed by Luyanda Sidiya, assisted by Phumlani Nyanga.
  • SYLPHIDES- humans-fishes-birds is a dance creation by Hannah Ma in collaboration with her company The People United. Inspired by the romantic ballet “Sylphides” and swarm movements of fishes and birds.
  • The Wanderer a contemporary dance theatre work from Hannah Ma and The People United about the search for traces of home and the longing for rituals that transcend cultural boundaries.
  • Encryption – Kristi-Leigh Gresse with Mzamo Kunene and Nomakhwezi Becker.
  • Step into Africa – the 34/18 Youth Dance Company under the direction of Wendi Abrahams.
  • In PINK MON€Y, an international collaboration between South Africans Annalyzer, Kieron Jina and Mbali Mdluli, Dutch artists Djana Covic and Nico de Rooij along with Antje Schupp from Switzerland, the theatre becomes an LGBTIQ+ club.


Standard Bank Jazz Festival 2018 #jazztown

The who’s who of jazz are in Grahamstown for the 31st Standard Bank Jazz Festival, which runs concurrently to the National Arts Festival.

Classics from the great pool of hip-hop and soul music genius are given a jazz treatment by the Rebirth of Cool led by pianist Thandi Ntuli, this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz, and DJ Kenzhero.

The lofty legacy of historic band the Blue Notes will be revisited with dexterous musical adoration by the star-studded Blue Notes Tribute Orchestra, led by trumpeter Marcus Wyatt. 

Award-winning writer Percy Mabandu will lead an interdisciplinary performance to mark the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Yakhal’inkomo,the historic record released in 1968 by the late saxophonist, Winston Mankunku Ngozi. The project will bring together literature with the masterful jazz musicianship of Andile Yenana, Shane Cooper, Ayanda Sikade, Linda Sikhakhane and Sisonke Xonti.

The Jazz Festival is going to be a rare feast for jazz piano enthusiasts too. Pianist and composer SBYA Thandi Ntuli will showcase music from her new genre-defying album, EXILE on Friday 29 June at DSG Hall.  The inimitable Andile Yenana’s sextet Umnqgonqgo Wabantu will ascend the DSG Hall stage on Sunday 1 July. The band will include both the best SA and Swiss players such as bassist Christoph King-Utzinger and drummer Michi Stulz on the rhythm section and a local hornline that includes Wyatt and Sikhakhane.The late, great John Coltrane devotee, American saxophonist Michael Brecker will have his music reimagined by a band led by Norwegian saxophonist Petter Wettre in a project titled, “Don’t Try This at Home – A Tribute to Michael Brecker”. Well-known American pianist Aaron Goldberg, who has toured the world with Joshua Redman for the past two decades, will be bringing his trio to Africa for the first time.

In what is perhaps one of the longest-running musical partnerships in our history, saxophonist McCoy Mrubata and pianist Paul Hanmer will give a performance that reflects their influences on each other in celebration of 30 years of collaboration.

On Friday 29 June at the DSG Hall, American composer and pianist Aaron Goldberg will lead his trio with Matt Penman (NZ), bass and Leon Parker (US) on drums and percussions. Afrika Mkhize will be on stage with Zenzi Makeba Lee and Amanda Tiffin as they break new ground with their collaboration on Saturday 30 June. SBYA alumnus and visionary pianist Nduduzo Makhathini will also set the piano on fire when he plays music from his latest album Ikhambi on Wednesday 4 July.

In keeping with the jazz festival’s focus on youth development and education, this year will mark 30 years of jazz education from Mike Campbell. The renowned bassist guitarist and professor was the founding head of the UCT Jazz School, which has produced a lion’s share of young professional jazz musicians that has included the likes of Marcus Wyatt and Buddy Wells. He will present the UCT Big Band at the DSG Auditorium of Thursday 28 June.

Read the full media release on the National Arts Festival’s website