The countdown to the 2018 Standard Bank Jazz Festival kicks off with a line-up of leading musicians poised to make it an unforgettable 31st edition at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Taking place from 28 June until 7 July, the programme will celebrate great jazz legacies with a league of world-class musicians, reimagining them with a youthful verve. “This year’s programme will celebrate key jazz milestones, give a nod to great musical traditions from across the African continent and showcase some of the best among what Europe and the United States has to offer today,” says Alan Webster, Director of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival. he 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 like bassist Christoph King-Utzinger and drummer Michi Stulz on the rhythm section and a local hornline that includes Wyatt and Sikhakhane. It’s going to be an unforgettable week of magic and music in the culture bowl of Grahamstown for young musicians making their way to the festival.

The SBJF is arguably the most visionary jazz festival in the world, thanks to its educational wing, the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival (SBNYJF), which has for the past 26 years been investing in the country’s young musicians. The best among these will be on stage with the Standard Bank National Schools Big Band conducted by Dr Gordon Vernick, Professor of Music and Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Georgia State University. The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band is made up of musicians between the ages of 19 and 25 years from across the country conducted by pianist, vocalist, composer, arranger and educator Amanda Tiffin, who is Head of Jazz Singing and Acting Head of Jazz Studies at the University of Cape Town.

“There’s a reason SBJF has a global reputation as a barometer of not only the current quality of jazz musicianship in South Africa, but a launching ground for future industry leaders too. The focus on development of young musicians and the way the festival celebrates our jazz heritage exemplifies our values captured by our campaign call for this year; Art_is! We are convinced art and jazz music in particular, are central to building a healthy society,” says Jenny Pheiffer, Head: Brand and Sponsorship Standard Bank.

The road to Jazztown in Grahamstown is now open.

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