The Safaricom International Jazz Festival turned five years this year marked by electric performances. The Festival attracted the highly acclaimed American jazz trio BWB, made up of Grammy Award winners Norman Brown (guitar) and Kirk Whalum (saxophone), and trumpeter Rick Braun.
“The fifth edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival has a special place in our hearts for many reasons. Not only are we celebrating five years of great live jazz performances from world renown and locally admired musicians, we are also celebrating the social impact we’ve created through funds raised from the Festival,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.
In the past five years, the jazz event has featured, among others, some of Africa’s most celebrated jazz artistes. These include South Africa’s world-renowned jazz musician Hugh Masekela (he has been visiting and performing in Kenya since the mid-1980s), whose influence has inspired many in Africa.Others include guitarists, Jonathan Butler and Jimmy Dludlu and trombonist Siya Makuzeni and pianist Bokani Dyer.
Local jazz artistes have also done us proud. They include the youthful Afro-jazz group Shamsi Music, Mwai and The Truth, Nairobi Horns Project, pianist James Gogo with GogoSimo band, pianist Zach Amunga’s AfroSync, saxophonist Chris Bittok, guitarist Eddie Grey, saxophonist Juma Tutu, saxophonist Edward Parseen, and pianist Jacob Asiyo.
Nigerian guitar sensation Kunle Ayo, has made two appearances in Nairobi. Other West Africans who have featured at the Safaricom Jazz Lounge include the seminal Malian singer-guitarist Salif Keita and fellow Fatoumata Diawara.
Proceeds from the Festival – a brainchild of The Art of Music Foundation – go towards supporting the Ghetto Classics, a programme that teaches music to youth from Korogocho.
The Safaricom International Jazz Festival has evolved significantly and is effectively serving to contribute to the diversification of Nairobi’s and indeed Kenya’s cultural landscape by cultivating a jazz culture.
Since 2014, proceeds from all ticket salesare donated to the Ghetto Classics music programme, which has been the Safaricom Jazz beneficiary since 2014 and has so far received an estimated Shs 60 million, funds that have benefitted over 1,200 children from Nairobi and Mombasa.